Folks are getting more spam than ever this year — and they’re having a harder time telling junk messages from legitimate ones.
The total amount of spam being spent is up 30% compared to last year, according to a recent report from Cisco. And users have noticed — 42% of U.S. adults say they’re currently getting more spam than they used to, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll.
They’re seeing smarter spam, too. A third of folks say it’s now more difficult to tell the difference between spam and legitimate mail.
That’s troubling news for IT pros, since spam is one of the biggest ways cybercriminals spread malware or phishing scams. Users often use work computers to check personal e-mail accounts, which are targeted by spammers more often than business addresses and aren’t as well protected.
Spam filters can go only go so far — or, they might go too far. Some spam blockers prevent a significant amount of legitimate messages from going through, which 65% of the users polled by Harris said was worse than receiving spam.
So what can IT do? The first step is to train users. It appears many are in need of advice on how to handle spam — 38% of U.S. said they’ve responded to a spam message.
Educate users about setting up a free, personal account that can be used to register at websites and in other instances when their address could be shared. You can also warn users about forwarding inspirational or amusing e-mails that are collection tools for spammers looking for addresses.
Also, try to choose spam filters that include reputation-based blocking, virus scanning and automatic updates.