The Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa (ISPA) has expressed concern at growing volumes of e-mail spam.
The organisation says that volumes of spam originating within South Africa are growing at an alarming rate, with a handful of high-profile spammers and e-mail database sellers as the major culprits in the proliferation of spam.
According to Symantec, spam accounted for 89,99% of e-mail for February 2010 versus 86,49% for February 2009. Five years ago, in February 2005, the figure was only 57,3%.
ISPA's Rob Hunter comments: "About 60% of all global email traffic is spam. Spam costs our members and their customers a fortune in unnecessary bandwidth charges each year, and the problem continues to get worse with every passing month. Despite the investments ISPs make in technology to combat spam, the spammers somehow manage to stay one step ahead."
A handful of prolific e-mail address database sellers are playing a major role in the deluge of spam in South Africa, Hunter adds. In some instances, legitimate businesses buy e-mail databases from list-sellers, unaware of the damage that using these lists could do to their brands, he adds.
"Companies should be aware that consumers have not given their permission for their email addresses to be included in these databases or for marketers to send them unsolicited marketing emails," says Hunter.
ISPA has taken a high-profile role in the fight against spam. It maintains a public Hall of Shame report that names the country's most prolific spammers and list sellers, helping ISPA members, ISPs and individual and corporate email users to make informed decisions on mail they wish to receive or allow to pass over their networks.
This Hall of Shame has helped to change the behaviour of a number of the country's most notorious spammers – those listed can asked to be removed from the list if they change their behaviour to fall in line with best practice.