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Over-zealous spam filters cost in time, money

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IT managers are spending an inordinate amount of time searching for lost e-mails as spam filters become increasingly aggressive and trap more and more legitimate messages. 

An independent survery carried out in the UK by e-Media reveals that IT managers spend, on average, 5-million man hours a year search for lost e-mails.
E-mail is considered the single most important communication medium in business today, but the majority of e-mail filtering systems are wasting huge amounts of IT resources by catching valid e-mails. This is costing employers more than £140-million in staff costs per year.
The survey, commissioned by Mimecast and carried out among more than 100 ICT managers, confirms that the majority of them (51%) considered e-mail to be the most important communication tool, ahead of the phone with 40% of the vote and postage with just 9%.
The survey also revealed an alarming lack of confidence in the ability of spam filters to distinguish between spam and valuable e-mail traffic: 54% of respondents checked email quarantines at least daily and 22% checked it a few times a week.
The reason for the level of nervousness and time wasted scanning for e-mails that had been incorrectly trapped is clearly evident, with 60% of respondents admitting that they had lost legitimate emails. These e-mails had been mistakenly caught in spam filters at least once a month and, in many cases, more frequently.
“These figures illustrate the inefficiency of the majority of LAN based and hosted anti-spam solutions available on the market today,” comments Peter Bauer, CEO of Mimecast. “While staggeringly high, the amount of wasted time and lack of trust in existing solutions is not surprising, given the inadequacies of the various content-scoring methods used to identify and categorise spam.
"What is perhaps surprising is that e-mail filtering products have been around for about a decade but they seem to have evolved less slowly than the ability of the spammers to elude them.
"IT managers are constantly under pressure to provision a 24×7 spam-free email service and ensure legitimate emails are not lost. We think this indicates the need for a new innovative approach to e-mail management, one that is an on-the wire, real-time solution that blocks emails at source and offers 98% protection against spam with no false positives or quarantines.”