Spam Threatens Revenue, Kids

What’s worse: Findings from Radicati Group that estimate global spam-related revenue losses exceeding $198 billion by 2007, or Symantec’s survey results that indicate 80 percent of children who use e-mail receive inappropriate spam on a daily basis?

In either case, unsolicited e-mail is more than annoyance — it is a financial drain and a safety threat. The Radicati study found that spam costs corporations an average of $49 per year in the form of additional messaging servers to handle the overload of e-mail — $20 more than they are willing to spend per year to protect each user mailbox from spam.

Roughly 24 percent of the corporate e-mail traffic in 2003 can be categorized as spam, surging to 49 percent by 2007 if left uncontrolled.

Spam’s Impact on Corporations
Year Each Corporate
Corporate Spam
Messages Per Day
Percentage of All
Messages Per Day
2003 $49 $20.5 billion 6.9 billion 24%
2004 $86 $41.6 billion 10.9 billion 31%
2005 $134 $74.6 billion 17.0 billion 39%
2006 $189 $123.7 billion 24.4 billion 45%
2007 $257 $198.3 billion 33.4 billion 49%
Source: Radicati Group

Symantec’s survey of 1,000 Internet users between the ages of 7 and 18 revealed that 47 percent have received e-mails with links to X-rated Web sites, and 21 percent open and read spam e-mails.

“As with any e-mail user, kids are just as susceptible as adults to being bombarded by spam advertising inappropriate products and services, such as Viagra and pornographic materials,” said Steve Cullen, senior vice president, Consumer and Client Product Delivery at Symantec.

Although 89 percent of the kids surveyed responded that they have heard of spam, nearly one-in-three do not know whether spam is good or bad for them, and 22 percent of respondents said that their parents have never talked to them about spam.

Parents are often unaware of what their children encounter online, and Cullen notes that it is important that parents educate their children about the dangers of spam, and how they can avoid being exposed to offensive content or becoming innocent victims of online fraud.

However, it could be difficult for parents to monitor their children’s Internet usage since 16 percent of respondents said they don’t want their parents to check their e-mails with them. Nearly one-in-three respondents said it is not important to always have mom or dad check e-mails with them, and 21 percent indicated that they didn’t care.

Furthermore, when asked whether they get parents’ permission before giving out their personal e-mail addresses to friends or even people and Web sites with which they are not familiar, 46 percent of the youths responded that they do not.

More than two-thirds (38 percent) of the kids that were surveyed don’t tell their parents after they’ve seen inappropriate spam content, even though 51 percent said they felt annoyed by the unsolicited messages, 34 percent have felt uncomfortable, 23 percent have felt offended, and 13 percent have felt curious.

The summer months make it even more difficult for parents to monitor kids’ online activities, as 44 percent of the respondents spend more than two hours a day online during that period — compared to only 23 percent who said they spend as much time online on a school day. Of the youths who spend an average of more than two hours a day online during summer, 75 percent mainly use the Internet to send and receive e-mails.

Consumer Spam Growth
Year Total Spam
Messages Per Day
Consumer Spam
Messages Per Day
2003 14.5 billion 7.6 billion
2004 21.1 billion 10.2 billion
2005 30.6 billion 13.6 billion
2006 42.6 billion 18.2 billion
2007 57.6 billion 24.2 billion
Source: Radicati Group

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