Europe’s fight against spam is at a stalemate

21 Jan 2010

The EU’s cyber security agency ENISA has revealed that no significant progress has been made in the fight against spam and that 95pc of email received throughout Europe is in fact spam.

ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) survey targeted email service providers of different types and sizes and received replies from 100 ISPs from 30 countries throughout the EU responsible for 80 million mailboxes.

In November, ENISA called for the EU-wide rollout of electronic ID (eID) cards, which it said would offer the most secure and reliable method of authentication for internet services like online banking.

Spam report

In its third spam report, it found that less than 5pc of all email traffic is delivered to mailboxes, which means the bulk of email traffic across Europe – 95pc – is spam.

Some 70pc of respondents to the survey consider spam extremely significant or significant for their security operations.

More than 25pc had spam account for greater than 10pc of helpdesk calls.

Among very small providers, 25pc of the respondents allocate anti-spam budgets of more than €10,000.

More than a third of respondents to the survey dedicate anti-spam budgets of more than €10 million.

ENISA says that the fight against spam has reached a certain level of maturity and ISPs are using various kinds of measures, from the extremely technical to awareness campaigns, policies and legal frameworks.

Spam prevention

The ISPs consider spam prevention to be a competitive advantage to attracting and retaining customers but say it is not a critical factor for attracting business.

“Spam remains an unnecessary, time consuming and costly burden for Europe,” the executive director of ENISA, Dr Udo Helmbrecht explained.

“Given the number of spam messages observed, I can only conclude more dedicated efforts must be undertaken.

“Email providers should be better at monitoring spam and identifying the source. Policy-makers and regulatory authorities should clarify the conflicts between spam-filtering, privacy and obligation to deliver,” Dr Helmbrecht said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The European Network and Information Security Agency’s third spam report found less than 5pc of all email traffic is delivered to mailboxes

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years