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Anti-spam Business Case

Most spam messages might look innocuous, just selling you something you don’t want, or perhaps you even DO want what they are selling. But, and here’s the key issue: a lot of spam messages are also not from who you think they are from, and their purpose is not to sell something to you, but to either get you to download something or grab your personal details, including credit card details.

That being the case, an increasing amount of spam is a either identity theft related, or attempting to install viruses and spyware on your computer.

Security

So, our first business case is security. Not only of your own machines, but potentially your customers (if you are a business) and your family and friends.

We are not keen on scare tactics here at SPAMfighter, because education and understanding are the best ways to help, along with having excellent products, obviously. However, it’s sometimes hard to state the reasons without coming across as a scaremonger.

That’s because things have changed. A lot of spam really isn’t a misguided promotional tool any more, but rather a concerted and often criminal attempt to compromise your system(s).

Compliance

So, that brings us to business case number two: Compliance. This is mainly appropriate for businesses.

If you are a business, you need to be in compliance with lots of different rules and regulations in order to do what you do. You are fully responsible for the data security of any customer data you might keep. You are also responsible for making sure customer payment details are not compromised if you use ecommerce (or if you do off-line transactions too). Such additional compliance issues may relate to SOX compliance in the US, to name just one more.

But, hang on, are we saying that if someone tries to steal from you, it’s your fault if they succeed? As a business, yes, that’s exactly what we are trying to say.

Is it fair? No. But the rules (data protection and PCI compliance) clearly put the requirement to look after customer data on the business that retains it. “We thought we were safe” is not a valid or acceptable reply if your systems and/or data are compromised.

Privacy

But wait, I’m not a business, so this doesn’t apply to me, does it? – Well, that’s a broader issue, however, can you say, categorically, that you don’t do ANY business on your personal PC? If you can answer yes to that, then the compliance issue is not an issue for you, but your personal details are still at risk, including bank details, passwords and other highly personal information that you’d probably rather didn’t make its way onto the internet, or to some criminal gang.

Which brings us to business case number three: privacy. Yours and your friends; and, if you’re a business, your customers and suppliers.

Cost

Counterintuitively, business case number four is: cost.

Hang on, you’re thinking, anti-spam solutions cost money! Yes, they do. But so does not having them.

That ENISA study we talked about at the start of this post states that, in their measurement, up-to 95% of all messages are spam. That represents an awful lot of wasted staff time (sorting and deleting messages), and a reasonably high likelihood that one of your staff will, almost certainly unintentionally, cause an infection or data-breach. This might be okay if you have super-hardened security on all of your systems, and a great de-duplicated back-up strategy. But most of us, especially in the SMB/SME sector don’t. And you have a full-time IT staff, right? Maybe not.

With external IT consultants charging anywhere from $200 and up for dealing with infections and solving security breaches, simple lapses can get very expensive, very quickly.

Peace Of Mind

Which brings us to our fifth and final business case for anti-spam, and one that is often discounted out-of-hand: peace of mind.

Most of us just want to get on with what we are doing: running a business, chatting with friends, updating Facebook. What we don’t want is to be distracted by security. Of course, most spammers and malware writers rely on this kind of thinking. However, if you ARE running an anti-spam solution (along with other security software) you CAN get on with business knowing that your solution is looking after you.

Does that mean you can be complacent? No, life is never that simple. But, you can get on with your life and business and any spam messages that do slip through, well, because they’ll hopefully stand out more now, you’ll know to be careful.

There, we’ve presented the business case: what are your thoughts?

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About Justin Bellinger

Justin is an experienced software professional, having worked in software and software security for nearly 20 years. Justin is VP of Security Products at SPAMfighter.
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