25 per cent of e-mail contains viruses or spam
The survey, conducted by Blackrock-based e-mail filtering company IE Internet, also reveals that viruses infect 50 per cent of some individuals’ e-mail and that 98 per cent of spam e-mail sent to Irish people originates outside of Ireland.
The IE Internet’s survey is thought to be is one of the first to collect data on the incidences of spam and virus attacks on Irish business users. The company’s figures were obtained by monitoring 8,000 e-mail addresses owned by 2,000 of its mainly SME customers, which accounted for more than 100,000 e-mails per day.
According to technical manager Ken O’Driscoll, there were a number of factors that made certain e-mail users more susceptible to spam than others. ‘One factor is the length of time you have been on the Internet. If you were one of the early adopters, then your address will have been in circulation for longer than others.’
Certainly, lists of e-mail addresses that have existed since before the dot.com bomb are likely to have been sold to others by Internet companies that went bust, he suggested.
‘Another factor is the number of times you have handed over your address when buying something online or subscribing to a service,’ said O’Driscoll.
A further factor is that top level domain (TLD) names ending in dot.com or dot.net were more likely to be targeted than any other TLDs, including country specific ones like .ie.
The figures suggest that spam in Ireland has yet to reach the epidemic proportions seen in North America, where an average of 50 to 60 per cent of e-mail is spam, according to content filtering firms such as MessageLabs and Brightmail. However, O’Driscoll said the problem was likely to get worse before it gets better. Adequate screening and filtering technology can go a long way towards minimising the cost of spam to businesses, he said.
The Minister for Communications, Dermot Ahern, recently signed into Irish law EU legislation effectively banning spam last month.
IE Internet provides an anti-spam and anti-virus protection system to customers, which successfully eliminates spam and virus e-mails without customers having to download the e-mails to their machines.