Affordable Spam Solutions

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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In a radio commercial not too long ago, a large Washington DC bank pointed a disapproving finger at the exclamation points, stars and fancy typeface on so many mortgage rate advertisements. The rate, the announcer admonished, should be what caught one's eye, not the graphic gimmicks. A good mortgage rate is a good mortgage rate. Effective spam solutions also speak for themselves. The lowest priced anti-spam software is not necessarily the most affordable solution. Looking at spam in context helps clarify why this is so.

Spam Blocking: Getting What You Pay for

Spam is expensive. The round nationwide numbers for 2003 put total cost at about $23 billion, $13 billion related to virus attacks and $10 billion to lost productivity alone. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of all email traffic, as of the third quarter of 2004, was spam. While a good portion of it is a drain simply on server efficiency, computer resources, and overall productivity, approximately one in every 35 messages carries a virus.

The goal of any spam solution is the lowest possible false positive rating--that is, the fewest possible legitimate emails blocked as being spam. The goal of third-party email security vendors is to block upwards of 90 percent of spam without resorting to white listing.

White listing is defined as defining acceptable mail to the software program, versus black listing. Each has its relative advantages, but both are labor intensive. White listing is also sometimes described, not altogether inaccurately, as a work-around for inadequate filtering.

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