Some Unknown Costs Associated With Spam

Spam is an odd thing.

We all know that it is annoying, we know that it wastes time, that it can spread malware and that it can be the cause of financial troubles. So when it makes its way to our inboxes we avoid it as soon as we recognize it.

But this doesn’t slow the spammers down. We put up sophisticated filters to block spam, their botnets are dismantled and people are trained on how to identify junk mail; and still spammers persist.

Obviously this persistence pays off for them or we would see a lot less of it.

Many of the problems associated with spam are rather evident. We read all the time about the costs associated with fighting spam or how much money is lost as a result of lower productivity due to spam. But there are some hidden costs as well.

Some of the problems associated with spam aren’t in the immediate forefront. And today we are going to take a look at some of the lesser known problems that are caused by spam.

Carbon Footprint

Going green has been the goal of many businesses for many years now. Companies have instituted recycling programs, encouraged car pooling and switched to energy efficient lighting. Others have designed their entire facility according to sustainable practices.

But what have they done about spam? That’s right, spam is an unknown enemy to many a environmentally conscious business. In fact the green house gas emissions associated with one spam email equals the same amount emitted by a car driving three feet.

That may not seem like anything to worry about though, so let’s put it into perspective. If you take the 95 million spam emails sent in the year 2010 and multiply that by three, the green house gas emissions are equal to what we would see if that same car drove around the world 2 million times. And 16 percent of that comes from actually filtering out spam messages.

Without your anti-spam solution the 28.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide would increase 270 percent so by fighting spam you are actually helping to save the planet.

Research

If you run a search for spam statistics, you will find that there is a plethora of results for these keywords. And the results vary by year because just about every company that deals with spam or security provides a report that show how much spam is being sent, where it comes from, where it goes, how much is blocked, etc.

Not only that, but companies who are in the business of stopping spam need to continually research trends in email spam so they can learn how to best stop it with their products.

To gather all this research costs money. Of course, spending money on this is necessary. Without it people wouldn’t understand the dangers of leaving email systems unprotected and anti-spam filters wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Tax Dollars

Roads in your neighborhood need work? Want more cops on the streets and teachers in the schools? Well you can put some of the blame for not having these things on spammers.

Businesses aren’t the only targets for spammers. When you see that spam costs organizations in the United States 10 billion dollars a year, a good portion of that is coming from government organizations. That means tax dollars that could be going towards improvements in your community are spent dealing with unwanted junk emails.

Health Care Costs

Everyone wants to save money, and when it comes to healthcare people have found that they can find certain items for a lower price on the Internet. This includes prescription drugs.

When you consider that 66 percent of spam is advertising for pharmaceuticals you can safely assume that someone, somewhere is falling for it.

Unfortunately for those who buy from these online stores, they might not be getting what they paid for. Medicines are often counterfeit or the dosages vary meaning a person could easily take too much or too little – and that can have serious implications on their health.

Can you think of another way, besides the obvious, that spam costs us in the long run? Share it with us in the comment section below.

Written by Jeff

4 Comments

  1. Charles McGoner · May 31, 2012

    I could just imagine how that money can help a lot of poor communities, not just in third world countries, but even here in right in our backyard. The US has its share of poverty, too, you know, sprinkled in almost every state.

    That’s why I also go for harsher penalties for spammers. It might be a white collar crime, but the way it is siphoning much needed resources from where it should be needed, it should be in the same classification as murder. Large companies who is in this fight should not only use their resources to investigate and go after those criminals, they should also use their money to get lobbyists to hound our legislators to pass stiff laws against spam.

  2. Lucas Stockton · June 1, 2012

    When you think about spam in these terms and not just in time and money spent on protection, it becomes almost a human rights violation. Of course, spammers aren’t the first to put their needs ahead of the needs of us all in the name of a quick buck, but they certainly are some of the most universally reviled. With the rise in techno warfare, I would expect to see more funding put into the defense budget to protect us from exploits that spams and scams might try to take advantage of to access confidential information.

  3. Jessica Craig · June 7, 2012

    I won’t be surprised if the money spent on spam surpasses the amount of money a state spends on healthcare or education. This is just sad! This money could be used in much better ways!

  4. Todd Mayner · July 1, 2012

    And yet we think the fight with spam is not enough.

    It is never enough until we see it dwindle to a negligible number. But, resources are scarce and scarce resources need to be allocated effectively. I agree that some things are better spent on healthcare and education. But, I would not agree that we compromise our fight against spam for spending on our CURRENT healthcare and education system.

    Much of the decline in health among citizens are due to poor lifestyle. Spend on reducing obesity and I’ll support the re-allocation of finances, rather than spend on money to hospitalized people with heart disease who are not careful about their diet.

    I’m going political here but I don’t want to mince words. It is not just about the lack of resources, it is also how those resources are spent.

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