Spam growth fuels continued market for email security services

Rather than contract as filters improve, the mail filtering market is expanding along with the explosive growth of spam, spim and botnets.

The volume of junk mail end-user companies have to deal with increased more than 100% during just the last three quarters of 2006, according to Osterman Research. Some estimates suggest as much as 85% of all email is spam, in fact.

Far from going away as anti-spam techniques get more sophisticated, the problem continues to grow, expanding even further the market for service providers who specialize in security and spam filtering.

That volume -- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center alone gets more than 5GB worth of spam every day -- is driving both the IT staff and end users crazy at many companies, and the problem continues to get worse.

Spam messages that arrive as GIF images, for example, can slip through many filters because the text of the message appears as an image, rather than key words that can be scanned, and those messages can be twice the size of non-image-based spam.

The images are easy to modify slightly as well, which makes them harder to flag even after they've been identified, and the population of potential spam victims has increased as spammers learn how to harvest and target instant message IDs, not just email. (See also: Can simple antispam filters solve the image spam problem?)

New strategies from security vendors such as Symantec Corp. include identifying sources with a "bad reputation," which requires that IT managers keep up a constantly updated list of risky sources as well as risky content or message patterns.

Spim -- IM spam -- only extends the problem, and the exposure of the IT managers responsible for filtering it out.

The original version of this story appeared on TechTarget's SearchSecurity.com.

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