Only five per cent of emails reach inboxes

ENISA's latest spam report shows ISPs are having to apply increasingly large resources to stopping malicious content at the inbox door.


Spam accounts for 19 out of every 20 emails sent, and ISPs aren't doing enough to combat it, according to the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

The EU's cyber security agency has just released its third annual spam report, and says a more "dedicated effort" is needed from ISPs to get spam under control.

It spoke to 100 email service providers of various sizes in 27 EU member states as part of its ongoing strategy to combat spam. The survey was aimed at getting a feel for the measures ISPs had put in place to deal with spam.

Its results show genuine email has decreased from six per cent of 2008's total email count to five per cent a year later, with 70 per cent of respondents saying spam was an "extremely significant or significant" part of their security strategy.

Last week McAfee came to much the same conclusion in its first report of the new decade pulling out pharmaceutical spam as the biggest culprit.

"Spammers have such a grip on this market, this area of the web is becoming increasingly standardised, making detection of malicious content all the more difficult," it said in a statement.

To that end, ENISA reported that a third of the largest service providers reported anti-spam budgets reaching into the millions every year, while a quarter of even the smallest providers reported an annual spam-fighting budget exceeding 10,000.

ISPs were found to be using a wide spectrum of measures to try and stem the flow, from technical and policy steps to raising awareness and establishing a clear legal framework for tackling the issue.

Depressingly, it concludes that no significant progress is being made.

"Spam remains an unnecessary, time-consuming and costly burden for Europe," ENISA's executive director Dr. Udo Helmbrecht said. "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."

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