The Hess Report

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sausages and Spam Spam Spam!

Blah blah blah SPAM blah blah, say the headlines these days. Some people get a few in their email, but for the most part it's not that big of a deal.

Just to give you some perspective on why it actually is a problem, allow me to illuminate:

At work, our domain receives around 18,000 email messages a day.

About 14,000 of those get killed immediately, as they are addressed to certain people who do not work there anymore yet had managed in their brief tenure to splay their email addresses haphazardly across the Internet.

Another 3,500 or so a day then get the boot, as they are not addressed to anyone in particular and have been flagged by my system as likely SPAM. Bad address plus SPAM flagging equals the trash can.

About 200 messages a day show up with valid email addresses, but are tagged as potential SPAM. I go through these by hand to make sure that nothing important is dumped.

That leaves anywhere from 80-160 actual valid incoming email messages per day at our company. Out of 18,000 received. That's ludicrous. If you're curious, it's between .004 and .009 percent. My SPAM filters screw up about five messages per day on average, giving them a 99.9998% accuracy rating.

However, dealing with that level of email requires that mail services have its own dedicated computer, and costs me probably about a half hour a day. The incoming volume is so high that if the mail server should crash over a long weekend, and, say, 70,000 messages back up, recovery can take hours.

Even if you aren't getting SPAM in your personal mailbox at home, it's a big problem that is costing you money, albiet indirectly through higher costs of good and services from the companies that DO have to deal with it.

What can you do? Very little overall, but there are some small steps that every person connected to the Internet can take. I'm working on a web page that details that few (truly) simple things that every computer owner can do both to protect their home computers, and to be a good Internet citizen. I'll post a link when it's finished.

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