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Spam epidemic could make e-mail obsolete

Due to increasing levels of spam, companies may soon have to look beyond e-mail as the primary method of communicating with employees and customers, according to a new study.

In 2007 alone, it is predicted that nearly 97 billion e-mails will be sent daily worldwide, 40 billion of which will be spam messages, the study found.

In a recent report forecasting worldwide e-mail usage over the next five years and published by Framingham, Mass.-based market-intelligence firm IDC, this is the first year that spam e-mail volumes are expected to exceed person-to-person e-mail volumes sent worldwide.

As a result, IDC predicts that annual e-mail growth will slow down, and continue to be replaced by alternative forms of communication, such as text messages, instant messaging, and VoIP calling, especially among younger consumers.

"Spam volumes are growing faster than expected due to the success of image-based spam in bypassing antispam filters and of e-mail sender identity spoofing in getting higher response rates," Mark Levitt, program vice president for IDC's Collaborative Computing and Enterprise Workplace research, said in a statement.

IDC believes that businesses can best respond to the increasing threat of spam by acknowledging other emerging forms of communications that Internet solution providers will begin to offer customers. The study found these other options will eventually make it "more difficult for e-mail to maintain its status as the leading mission-critical electronic communications method."

IDC also suggests that businesses deploy multiple layers of antispam software and appliances at their company, and ensure that these programs are updated regularly in order to increase their effectiveness over time. Providing equal access to e-mail from both desktop and wireless access devices through Ajax and push e-mail programs, will help to reduce the volume of incoming spam mail to businesses, IDC says.

Reuters -
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