AOL's landmark assault on spam comes less than two weeks after the company announced it daily was blocking three-quarters of a million spam emails from reaching its members.
The amount of spam hitting corporate networks is expected to double this year, according to analyst firm, the Aberdeen Group. Spam increased four-fold last year. ''We expect that if last year spam was on the order of 25% of corporate email, it will be in the range of 50% this year,'' said Eric Hemmendinger, an Aberdeen analyst, in a recent nterview. ''The spammers are getting smarter. Every time they see a new technique for stopping them, they find a new way to bypass it.''
And the assault on corporate email is intensifying.
A recent study by MessageLabs, Inc., showed that corporate email is more infected with viruses, spam and porn than ever before. Out of 212 million emails that MessageLabs scanned last month, 15 million of them contained potentially harmful content, according to John Harrington, a U.S. director at MessageLabs, which is a managed services provider specializing in email and security. And the same study found a 42% increase in viruses between this past January and last month. One in every 134.5 emails are infected with a virus.
And companies also are struggling with the amount of porn flooding their corporate email.
An increasing amount of spam is now porn-related. While MessageLabs' survey found that spam with pornographic images attached may be down, the amount of porn messages is up.
"Pornographic spam is really prevalent right now," says Harrington. "On just a gut feeling, I'd say that one-third of spam is porn. And in the corporate world, there's a huge liability associated with that. It's coming through a corporate network to a corporate-owned machine and it could be creating a hostile work environment. It would be like someone receiving Penthouse or Hustler in his office mailbox every day. It's no different."
A spokesperson for AOL says their users are heavily pushing the company's fight against spam.
Members have driven the increase in emails blocked through use of the "Report Spam" button. Members are using it to send up to 5.5 million pieces of junk email per day to AOL's anti-spam engineers, up from about 4 million per day reported less than two weeks ago.