Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spam's Carbon Footprint

Consultants from ICF International and McAfee antivirus found that spam e-mail generates over33 billion kilowatt-hours every year - enough to provide energy for nearly 21/2 million homes! Computers work harder when they are actually carrying out operations, such as running mail, and the amount of time that the average business-user's computer is running through spam mail amounts to around 30kg of CO2. The consulting team estimated 62 trillion pieces of spam mail per year, or 17 million tons of CO2!

ICF notes spam filtering (at the ISP level) would be like "taking 2.3 million cars off the road," reducing unwanted mail by as much as 75%. But the firm also says going after the source(s) of the spam is important, too. Worldwide spam fell by about 70% last November when US-based webhost, McColo, was shutdown; McColo had known ties to spammers.

The ICF/McAfee report came on the heels of Symantec's own Internet Security Threat report, in which the antivirus firm said global spam had increased by nearly 200%, with bot networks responsible for over 90% of it. Symantec and McAfee measure spam differently: McAfee counts all spam - even that stopped at the ISP; Symantec counts only the spam that makes it through and is seen (or deleted) by the end-user.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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