Don’t forget the cost of spam, warns McAfee

Even the small percentage of spam that gets through to workers can cost companies thousands, according to a report from security firm McAfee.

Though malware and preventing breaches hold the headlines and the attention of many IT departments spam can still be an issue.

"Spam is not going away," McAfee researcher Mark Smart told IT PRO. "They [spammers] are always thinking of new and innovative ideas."

That said, an average of 2.25 spam emails get through each day. Based what Smart said was an industry accepted average of 30 seconds per email, workers are wasting a minute a day because of spam.

While that doesn't sound like much indeed, most workers likely waste more on Facebook it can add up.

While McAfee suggested those lost minutes could cost a firm of a thousand workers some $182,500 (131,940) in lost productivity, Smart admitted that it's "always difficult to put a number on it."

More important, he noted, was to realise that there is a difference between spam filters that offer 95 per cent coverage and 99 per cent. McAfee suggested the cost could be as high as $41,000 for every percentage point.

"For every one per cent getting through, that is costing an organisation," Smart said, adding lost productivity isn't the only cost, as firms must also pay for security and archive more email because of spam.

"Spam is here to stay, but we've all gotten used to it, become numb to it," Smart said. "We just deal with it as if its part of the process."

"We've just become numb to it, but it is costing businesses billions of dollars a year."

He added that we should see an increase in spam volume of as much as 20 per cent this month, which happens every March for a reason that security researchers have yet to fully understand. "It seems to happen every year," Smart noted. "We still don't know why to be honest could be China or Russian term times, something as innocent as that."