Steps to Protect Your Enterprise from Spam

Written by
Aileen Danna

According to Grocott’s Mail, the oldest independent news source in South Africa, over 204 million emails are sent every minute. From a different perspective, spam laws say that there are 14.5 billion messages sent every day. Unwanted advertising emails make up thirty-six percent of these emails, while emails containing adult related content make up almost thirty-two percent. Unwanted financial emails make up another twenty-six percent. Most people are surprised to learn that under three percent of unwanted emails contain scams or are phishing emails. They can be the most harmful, however, if someone in your organisation opens them. There are several techniques that an enterprise can do to protect itself from spam.

The Cost

Companies waste a lot of money each year on unwanted emails. In fact, according to the United States based Radicati Research Group Incorporated, companies lose over $20.5 billion annually, mainly due to loss of productivity, but also including costs to replace and repair equipment. That converts to over 19,093,085,000 Euros each year. Additionally, Nucleus Research says that the company inadvertently pays each employee 1,798 euros each year because they are receiving unwanted emails. The cost of the problem will only continue to skyrocket in coming years.

In-House Steps That Businesses Should Take

There are several steps that a business can take to stop unwanted emails. The first of these is to use discretion when sharing email addresses. Employees should only be sharing emails with those who have a need to know. One way that employees may inadvertently not use discretion is to forward an important email to other recipients. Encourage employees to avoid forwarding emails as often as possible. Of course, in a business setting, that is not always possible. In those cases, employees should use the blind carbon copy (bcc) option to hide other recipients’ emails. One reason this technique is particularly useful is that it stops others from being able to amass numerous email addresses for unscrupulous purposes.

A second way that businesses can help stop spam is to obscure email addresses when posting online. When obscuring email addresses, however, it is vital that real customers can figure out the email. There are several ways that a company can hide the email address. One possible technique is to include all or part of the email in an image because most email harvesting programmes cannot read these images. A second technique that companies can use is to use a text logo containing the address that has been shrunk with cascading style sheets (CSS), or text that makes no sense, but that is restored to an understandable format with CSS.

A third technique is to implement policies so that employees do not respond to spam. Do not even encourage employees to open the spam to let the person know not to spam them, as this tells the spammer that the email address is valid. Additionally, the spammer may be using an email that they have hacked, resulting in the legitimate user getting closed down even more quickly.

Contact forms on websites are one solution that some companies have tried. While they do help cut down on the amount of spam, they can lead to other problems. Spammers can use poorly designed contact forms to collect email addresses. If the contact form does not perform properly, the user usually gets no notification that the contact failed. Moreover, some users inadvertently type their email address wrong, which can result in an angry customer.

A very powerful technique that most companies can use to stop spam is to disable HTML emails, as these emails can contain several additional problems not found in non-HTML emails. These emails can contain offensive images that do not belong in the workplace. They can also contain codes that allow the spammer to know that someone opened the email. Spyware is easier for spammers to install when a company allows employees to open HTML emails.

Use Anti-Spam Programmes

Despite all these efforts, most enterprises find that they need an anti-spam program installed on all company computers. Systems providing anti-spam for enterprises can block up to 99% of all unwanted emails. When looking to choose the best system, it is important for executives to look for a system that is user-friendly. Otherwise, enterprising employees will just find a way to disable the software. Unfortunately, many anti-spam programmes are so complicated that it takes the entire informational technology team a full day to install the system on each computer. It simply does not need to be that way, as executives can find systems that install in under 15 minutes. Before making a final choice, ensure that you are getting the program from a company that you can trust to be legitimate. The best programmes also offer programmes tailored to the needs of the company. After all, there is no need for an enterprise to pay for a larger system than they are likely to grow into, or to install a program that is so small that it does not meet the company’s needs from the beginning.

It is possible to stop over 99% of spam from reaching your enterprise’s computers. Steps must start with implementing in-house policies that help to stop employees from opening unwanted emails, even to tell a spammer to stop spamming them. Most enterprises, however, find that is not enough. Companies need to install anti-spam programmes that stop employees from ever seeing the unwanted email in the first place. When choosing a provider, make sure to look for a programme that is easy to install, is user-friendly, comes from a legitimate company, and is priced according to the needs of the organisation. It is possible to stop spam, but it takes vigilance on everyone’s part, so give your employees the tools that they need.

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