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(CNN)   Spammers cost US businesses thirteen billion dollars last year. That's Billion, with a B as in BASTARDS   ( divider line
    More: Scary  
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6861 clicks; posted to Main » on 03 Jan 2003 at 6:24 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

97 Comments     (+0 »)

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2003-01-03 07:02:26 PM  
This study seems to assume that the time that people waste checking spam would've otherwise been used productively. In my company at least, this isn't the case - we waste a lot of time with spam, meaningless water cooler talk, and other non-work stuff, but we also always get our work done. Reading spam has more impact on my social time than on my work.

Spam still sucks, though.
2003-01-03 07:06:12 PM  
[...] In Dec 02 our mailservers processed 5 million email messages...we blocked 31% as SPAM and still the crap gets into my mailbox over 100 per day.

I own a small internet services company, and while we don't process nearly as much mail as you do, those percentages are pretty close to ours -- 30-40% of the email that hits the server is spam. And 98% of that spam goes directly to /dev/null. Wheeeeeee
2003-01-03 07:09:56 PM  
I like spam , fried with mayo

/drops to ground with massive heart attack
2003-01-03 07:10:40 PM  
JDDoeE My time in court for that away from work is worth more than $500.

I don't know if the company will do it on their own either.
2003-01-03 07:11:33 PM  
01-03-03 06:58:29 PM Kremit
This can be solved by simply adding a feature to only allow text messages from known persons. Unless you've got your cell or SMS address posted on the Internet or other public place, there shouldn't be a need for random strangers to be sending you text messages.

Don't work that way.. I get spam text messages on my phone all the time. Never posted it anywhere. I even tried to get the service provider to turn off text messaging. They said they couldn't dissable it and it came with the service. Changed my cell phone and a month later it started again.
2003-01-03 07:12:44 PM  
bah.. my html sucks.. so sue me.. used to ubb
2003-01-03 07:16:11 PM  
JDJoeE: Yupper, that's a roger. Because it uses up Your fax paper, which constitutes physical theft. Really though, can You imagine expecting an important fax to be there when You got in on Monday morning, but wasn't there, because the paper got used up by 20 ads for the X-10 camera?
2003-01-03 07:17:46 PM  
spam stinks....
but 13 billion bucks...yeah right, then picking your nose must cost the government, like $2 trillion by that math.
2003-01-03 07:18:36 PM  
I am calling bullshiat on these metrics. They make too many assumptions and pulled too many numbers out of their ass. They might as well have said $13 trillion. Did SpamCop lobby for this study or what?
2003-01-03 07:18:45 PM  
there has to be a way for a class action law suit...anyone else want to take on Orbitz?
2003-01-03 07:18:58 PM  
Rpm Court? You just call the police. Once they're convicted You file for damages. (within 3 years)
2003-01-03 07:19:01 PM  

I'm betting that about 90% of the mail hitting my server is spam. Most of it goes right to dev/null but it still takes cpu cycles to sort it that could be better put to use downloading porn!

I hope that NY implements those hard line anti-spam laws like they have in other parts of the county.I wanna nail their balls to the wall!

I can't stand the fact that the stuff is so poorly targeted too. I get spam for gay porn sites, penis enlargers and flat hoses (I live in a farking coop!) and other crap I have no use for! And they send hard core porn ads to little kids!

The other thing that bugs me is that it must be working. Someone is replying to them, and making them money. Those people need to be beaten with a hose.

Gee, Hostile? Moi?

2003-01-03 07:25:07 PM  
TommyymmoT I thought under TCPA (the junk fax law) you have to file a civil action.
2003-01-03 07:26:16 PM  
Okay, I live in Nevada, and according to the laws here, spam is illegal and you're supposed to pay a fair-sized fine when caught.

The trouble is, I have no idea where to resend the spam I've gotten so the original sender get's struck by a thunderbolt in the wallet!

2003-01-03 07:29:11 PM  
This is a bullshiat number. Corporations LOVE coming up with insanely huge numbers like this to justify (to their stockholders) why they aren't profitable, but it's just not based in reality. It's not $13 billion lost unless you can actually show that the 4 seconds the employee loses would CONTRIBUTE to the bottom line.
Looking at it another way, if Spam costs $13 billion a year, then bathroom breaks probably cost $200 billion a year. So all the corporations should just ban their employees from using the restroom, right?
2003-01-03 07:36:33 PM  
B as in BEST headline ever... :)
2003-01-03 07:37:27 PM  
You can have my bathroom break when you pry it from my cold dead... my cold dead... Well, I'm not sure what you'd pry it from, but it'd be cold and dead when you did it, I'll tell you now.
2003-01-03 07:39:03 PM  
Rpm: What You are looking for first and formost is cease and desist order, as civil actions can take years, during which, You can continue to be harmed. Such an order (which is issued by a judge) is generally reguarded as an official acknowledgement that wrong doing is taking place. Then, when the civil action is actually adjudicated, it(the order) becomes a foregone conclusion of guilt, and liability. Slam dunk. Point Rpm.
2003-01-03 07:40:50 PM  
I'm unclear how these large corps are letting this much spam through their servers. I work for one of the largest, and the amount of spam I get is 0. Mind you, I'm talking one of the mass mailers going nuts on the addies, not individuals who may have their work addy submitted to some list.
2003-01-03 07:55:32 PM  
You wanna know something sick? At my work, we're actually encouraged to subscribe to the spam lists, to see what kinda graphic ideas are current. I get tons of them daily. Amazing how many ways you can stick a one into a zero.

So, it takes me about 10 seconds ctrl+click the real mail and delete the rest. This 4.4 second thing sounds like a vast over-estimation.
2003-01-03 08:01:41 PM  
Wow i'm suprised noone has posted the lyrics to MOnthy Python's 'Spam'. Well shiat, i'm sure not going to....

[image from too old to be available]
2003-01-03 08:24:50 PM  
and T as in Thank You to everybody who things that headline is great. Yes, it was mine.
2003-01-03 08:41:25 PM  
Good one, Ish.
2003-01-03 08:43:53 PM  
who recalls that dude who sent out spam and made millions from it, and how everyone who saw his address on a website signed him up for mail order catalogues. I sure do.
2003-01-03 08:45:59 PM  

I'm unclear how these large corps are letting this much spam through their servers.

Just because the spam never gets to you doesn't mean it's not coming into the server. It would be impossiable to block all spam on the fromline, people tend to get upset is you refuse to allow all incoming mail from servers like AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo.

So the mail comes in, some gets bounced at the firewall, but a lot comes into the server, where it has to be identified as spam. We use Spam Assasain here, it has tons of rules that it checks the message against, and if it scores enough points (based on factors like key words, phrases oddities in headers.) it's tagged as spam, whech can then be piped to /dev/null. However, most users prefer for the mail to go into a folder so they can make sure nothing gets tagged that shouldn't be. We also keep a blacklist of known spammersand open relays.

So you see, even though you, the user may never see any spam, it does come in, and has to be delt with somewhere along the line.

I hope that helps.

2003-01-03 09:01:39 PM  
is that an american or european billion? ;)
2003-01-03 09:25:31 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

Leaders in Spam Technology
2003-01-03 09:31:32 PM  
These numbers are pure unadulterated bullsh*t. You might as well count up the time people spend picking their noses at work and run a story on the 1.5 billion dollar bogey gap.

Idiot Employee
"Gee boss I would have that project finished but I spent so much time dealing with spam it'll be delayed till next week."

"Oh bullsh*t you idiot, you're fired!"
2003-01-03 09:45:13 PM  
they should spam congressmen and all public officials, that way they will work the antispam bill a lot faster!
2003-01-03 10:03:49 PM  
This will not end until we enact capital punishment for spammers. People like Alan Ralsky deserve to die, and until they die, thieves and crooks like Ralsky will continue to commit theft in their efforts to peddle their fraudulent wares.
2003-01-03 10:29:40 PM  
"Spammers cost US businesses thirteen billion dollars last year."

Spammers ARE US businesses.
Think about that one.
2003-01-03 11:26:47 PM  
01-03-03 10:29:40 PM Rikkochet
Spammers ARE US businesses.
Think about that one.

Huh? Please explain.
Even if you define the origin of a spammer by where the computer is that sends the mail, what about where the damn open-relay is that allows it through? I've seen entire Asian countries blocked by some sysadmins because they allow anyone to relay through them. So what if it started in Jersey. People need to learn to lock down their mail servers.

And there are no Canadian spammers? Or Europeans? Or any others?

I'm "thinking about that one" and all I'm getting is that you are full of shiat.
2003-01-03 11:31:49 PM  
i like SPAM.
2003-01-03 11:46:54 PM  
r0b: even spammers are not dumb enough to indiscriminately anger people with "[nospam-﹫-backwards]tfo­sorc­i­m*co­m" addresses.

Ricochet: and they still COST billions of bucks.

After all, they're not paying the ISPs for the privilege of their advertising, are they? Try to take out an advertisement in the newspaper or tape a commercial and try to have it put on TV, and you'll learn how much advertising costs if done normally. Nope, instead they are consuming bandwidth and the time of sysadmins at the server level, and irritating the receivers at the user level, without recompense. Hmmm...taking services and resources without compensating the people whom you took it from...sounds like theft to me.
2003-01-03 11:54:51 PM  
whoever mentioned how poorly targeted it was hit the nail on the head? just how many sick bastards are there out there which neccessitate the 4 or 5 "farmyard porn trials" i receive every week? im looking at you rural america
2003-01-04 12:12:42 AM  
Fragman: FARK is good for company morale. It should be permitted, nay, it should be a required activity at all places of business. Maybe We can get it worked into the homeland security bill.
jbc [TotalFark]
2003-01-04 01:03:15 AM  
Forward your spam to u­ce[nospam-﹫-backwards]ctf*g­ov

One of two things will happen: The Federal Trade Commission will do what is says it will and crack down on these asshats, or you'll get some satisfaction knowing that you filled a government inbox with useless crap.

Cc: it to the IRS while you're at it.
2003-01-04 01:41:16 AM  
I agree with the theme of the study, but like many have said, the money figures are just silly.

I could see factoring in technical money wasters,like overloaded servers, time wasted by admins dealing with spam, etc... but you know you're walking into a shiatstorm when some economist starts to factor in that magical thing know as "productivity".

The average office worker with email access probably does a solid 15 hours of work a week when you factor in bullshiat meetings, daydreaming, surfing the web, potty breaks, gossiping, personal phone calls, etc... Spam is a pretty insignificant piece of the anti-productivity pie...
2003-01-04 02:19:09 AM  
Proposition: Pass laws declaring legal amnesty for anyone killing spammers. Not only would this help alleviate the problem, but would spawn a whole new cottage industry of spam-bounty hunters. Getting spammed? Put out a hit on the mofo.
Sure, it's hard to track these people down... But when there's that much on the line... ;)
2003-01-04 02:32:49 AM  
Holy fark. All you people in the "It doesn't take 4.4 seconds, therefore this is crap because we're not losing that much productivity!" camp, that's not the frikkin issue!
Bandwidth is EXPENSIVE. Check out prices for a simple T1 line and you'll quickly see what I'm talking about. Not to mention the extra software, beefed up servers, storage space, legit mail that gets filtered by spam filters... That's where the real losses and headaches are. You may be able to just shift-click and delete, but some people have to deal with the consequences of spam literally all day. To use an earlier example, quoted on this thread, lets say you're Joe Tech at MacroHard Inc. and you're running a large mail server. Now let's say 35 percent of the mail coming through your mail servers is spam. Lets say you pay 1000 bucks a month of that bandwidth (which is most likely a vast underestimate). That's 350 bucks a month that spam is costing you, not to mention the aforementioned extra software, time, hardware, blah blah. This shiat has got to stop. Or at the very least be choked, brought to its knees, and forced to crawl through broken glass.
2003-01-04 02:34:02 AM  
"bucks a month FOR that bandwidth" not "of that bandwidth"

*pulls foot from mouth*
2003-01-04 03:18:25 AM  

The issue is the "loosing productivity" part. The story based a portion of it's money estimates on the lost productivity. I can pretty much promise you that the 4.4 seconds times amount of spam times amount of employees and then factoring that into their average salary generates a dollar amount that COMPLETELY dwarfs the amount of money spent on bandwidth.

My point is that they came up with a magical estimate of $13 billion a year that is completely imaginary. Just because of the whole "productivity" slant.

Your bandwidth scenario is also a little shaky. If company X is paying $1000 a month for bandwidth and spam is elimnated, they just get more bandwidth to utilize, they don't instantly realize any cost savings unless they drop from a full T1 to a fractional or whatever. Also, bandwidth is used for the ENTIRE internet operation of a company, not just email. So 35% of mail being spam has no relation to 35% of bandwidth utilization. So company X isn't going to save $350 a month by eliminating 35% of their incoming emails.

I'm no fan of spam and would love to see it gone as well. My only point is that this study created a hugely inflated dollar figure to get peoples attention. It has no basis in reality.
2003-01-04 03:22:18 AM  
correction to first paragraph:

"I can pretty much promise you that the 4.4 seconds times amount of spam times amount of employees and then factoring that into their average salary generates a dollar amount that COMPLETELY dwarfs the amount of money spent on WASTED bandwidth."
2003-01-04 11:02:04 AM  
Kill 'em all
2003-01-04 03:27:56 PM  
How much would it cost to send CNN writers to remedial math classes?

Since when did 8.9 + 2.5 + 0.5 add up to 13?????
2003-01-04 04:49:13 PM  
51, most companies don't give you the choice of which mail client to use.
2003-01-04 06:07:44 PM  
At the ISP I used to work at, they employed five full time people in the 'abuse' dept. Guys making $45 - $55 K a year who did nothing but ran scripts, answered emails, ran down leads and recommended fixes to the engineering group. They also spent a lot of time hand-holding the public setting up their spam blocking measures, and working with the engineers on better automation of same.

Unsolicited mass commercial emails is theft of resources of any IT organization, whether you the end user sees it or not, these so called legitimate business owners deserve to die, they are stealing resources that belong to legitimate businesses (ISP's, IT depts, network hosting companies, etc) and lying to congress about how much it costs, about the lie of "opt in" and the other lies they tell about how people want their so called services.
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