40% of UK businesses breached due to spam

Businesses are still struggling to deal with the problems caused by spam, and nearly half of them have experienced a data breach as a result of employees clicking on malicious links or files within spam emails.

The independent blind survey of 201 IT decision makers in UK organizations with between 5 and 1,000 employees commissioned by GFI Software reveals their opinions about the level of spam entering their organization’s network; the types of solutions they have in place to filter out unsolicited email; the effectiveness of the solutions; their top concerns about spam; and whether they have been breached or infected by malware as a result of spam.

Key highlights from the survey include:

  • 40% of respondents indicate that their organization has been breached as a result of spam email, and 4.5% simply don’t know if they have been breached.
  • 74.5% say they receive too much spam.
  • 86% of those surveyed say the volume of spam in their organization has either increased (61%) or remained the same (25%) in the past year.
  • 46% rely on the anti-spam component of their antivirus solution to block spam; 19% use a software solution for anti-spam; only 7.5% use a cloud-based solution to filter email; 22.5% have an anti-spam gateway appliance.
  • 70% say their anti-spam solution is either marginally effective (62%) or not effective at all (8%).
  • The top concern that companies have about spam (23% of all respondents) is that it can harbour malicious links or files that compromise the network. The second largest concern is the threat of phishing attacks delivered by spam.
  • 14% of companies do not educate their employees about the risks of opening spam messages.

Regional highlights:

  • 92% of those surveyed in the North West believed they received too much spam – the highest of all the regions. The South West and Wales were the lowest with 66% each.
  • organizations in Manchester were the most likely to only rely on client-side antivirus solutions to manage incoming spam, with 87.5% of those surveyed in the area doing so. Northern Ireland was the highest overall region, with 86% surveyed relying on client antivirus to screen out spam.
  • organizations in Glasgow were the most likely to be using a cloud-based antispam solution.
  • Two thirds of companies in Newcastle were most concerned about the threat of phishing attacks, the highest of all the major UK cities, while the North East was also the overall region most concerned about phishing.
  • London was the area most affected by spam-related breaches and infections, with 56% of those surveyed in the area admitting to being compromised by a spam-based threat.

The survey shows that a majority of organizations rely heavily on the anti-spam component of their antivirus solution to filter out unwanted or harmful messages. This is especially true of organizations with between 50 and 99 employees, where a staggering 64% take this approach.

Antivirus solutions are an effective component of a multi-layered spam defense. A comprehensive anti-spam solution, however, incorporates a combination of defenses located on premise and in the cloud, says GFI.

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