Inappropriate Email Image Attachments Declining, Reports MessageLabs

London, September 8, 2004 – MessageLabs, the leading provider of managed email security services to businesses, today announced that the number of inappropriate and potentially sensitive images sent as email attachments has declined over the past six months in comparison to the same period last year. This includes pornography, cartoons, jokes, greetings cards and other non-work related material that can waste valuable bandwidth and offend employees. In many instances, such images are in violation of corporate acceptable usage policies.

According to MessageLabs’ data, the ratio of email attachments containing such images was 1 in 4,756 (0.02%) during the six-month period from March – August 2004. In the same period in 2003, the ratio was 1 in 1,357 (0.07%).

Mark Sunner, Chief Technology Officer at MessageLabs, commented:

“While we cannot say for certain what has caused this drop, one possible explanation is growing enforcement of corporate governance requirements. For companies that use email to conduct critical business transactions and communications, corporate governance can be a great concern. We are now seeing a number of organisations using email management solutions to help ensure compliance and reduce risk. The effect of this could be one of the reasons why fewer inappropriate images are being sent via email.”

Email scanned by MessageLabs also reveals a drop in spam and viruses in circulation in August 2004. Of all email scanned by MessageLabs’ Anti-Spam service, 84.2% was categorised as spam, compared to 94.5% during July 2004. And 6.9% of the emails scanned by MessageLabs’ Anti-Virus service were identified as virus-infected during August, a decrease from the 7.3% intercepted during July.

Sunner concludes: “The summer months are often a quiet time for virus and spam distribution – despite exceptions like last August’s SoBig.F virus. Virus activity tends to be cyclical, with periods of stability punctuated by outbreaks of varying significance. The drop in spam volumes may also be partly as a result of the United States’ Operation Web Snare during which more than 150 people were arrested for a variety of online criminal activities, including spamming. This operation may have removed some of the perpetrators from active service and could have worried others enough to suspend operations for now.”

About MessageLabs

MessageLabs is the leading provider of managed email security services to businesses based on market shares or revenue according to the Yankee Group Security Solutions & Services, February 2004 Report. The company currently offers industry-leading protection to more than 8,500 businesses around the world from email threats such as viruses, spam and other unwanted content before they reach their networks and without the need for additional hardware or software. Powered by a global network of control towers that currently spans 13 data centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong, MessageLabs scans millions of emails a day on behalf of customers such as The British Government, The Bank of New York, Bertelsmann, Bic, CSC, Conde Nast Publications, EMI Music, Diageo, Orange, Random House, SC Johnson and StorageTek. The company has more than 300 channel partners, including BT, Cable & Wireless, CSC, IBM, MCI and Unisys. The information relating to MessageLabs’ services contained in this news release is based on data generated internally by MessageLabs and has not been subject to an independent review by a third party. For more information on MessageLabs and its industry-leading email security and management services, please visit

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