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Outbound Spam Study Examines Cost To Industry

Commtouch : 03 June, 2010  (Technical Article)
Service providers shown to be finding the handling of spam originating from their own networks to be difficult to deal with and costly
Sixty-eight percent of service providers say outbound spam costs them up to $100,000 per year, according to a new research study by industry analyst firm Osterman Research and Commtouch.

In the first ever comprehensive report on how outgoing messaging abuse affects service providers, the Commtouch-Osterman study surveyed ISPs, hosting providers, managed service providers and Internet portals around the world, asking specific questions regarding spam and scam email messages generated from within their networks. Exploitation of service providers' networks to send unsolicited email can lead to customer loss, operational cost increases, brand damage and even potential lawsuits.

"The results of our research pinpoint a growing challenge in the industry that service providers need to protect against spammers who aim to abuse their networks," said Michael Osterman, president and founder of Osterman Research. "Outbound spam is a rising concern, and it is essential that service providers deal with the issue in order to protect their businesses."

Some key findings from the research include:

* 68 percent of service providers say outbound spam costs them up to $100,000 per year; 4 percent said it is costing them more than $250,000 per year. Costs due to outbound spam include such things as IT helpdesk and anti-abuse team time.

* Almost 40 percent of respondents have had their IP addresses listed on Real Time Blackhole Lists (RBLs) in the past 12 months alone. RBLs are published lists of the addresses of computers or networks known to be sending out spam. A service provider may be "blacklisted" as a result of outbound spam, and thus have its customers' legitimate email blocked by other service providers.

* Nearly 70 percent of service providers are in the process of evaluating solutions for their outbound spam problem. 50 percent expect to deploy a solution within the next 12 months.

"Service providers are well experienced in dealing with inbound spam, but based on these results and our conversations with customers, it is clear that outbound spam is an issue most are struggling with," said Asaf Greiner, Commtouch's vice president of products. "Implementing an effective solution to solve the issues associated with spam and scam emails emanating from their own networks would help service providers reduce their costs, keep their customers happy, and contribute to a cleaner Internet."

Commtouch recently launched an Outbound Spam Protection solution, which enables service providers to identify and block outbound spam caused by compromised user accounts, malicious users, and zombie computers. Commtouch's solution provides real-time blocking of the outbound spam that is unique to each service provider, as well as identifying the spammers for the service providers' abuse teams.
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