Outbound Spam Becoming a Meaty Problem for ISPs

Service providers are concerned about the rising volume of spam, according to a recent report commissioned by analysts Commtouch.

The survey of communications companies and their users carried out by Osterman Research revealed that ISPs were worried about the amount of spam that derives from outbound messages. This even includes those sent by their own customers.

Commtouch said that one problem was that most ISPs’ technology aimed at filtering and blocking spam is designed to prevent inbound spam from outside servers. Spam-filtering technology remains basic and is not geared up to deal with spam being generated by an ISP’s users.

Legitimate email accounts could be abused by spammers, but the biggest problem was that of hijacked accounts and PC bots which are used to send messages containing malware or phishing attempts.

Service providers said that their options for preventing the spread of outbound spam were very limited – a third said that they reversed the operations of their inbound antispam systems, used Port 25 blocking or tried to block specific IP address ranges. A further third of ISPs had abuse management teams using in-house antispam technology, but 70 per cent of respondents agreed on one thing, that their current systems were unable to properly cope with the scourge of outbound spam.

Osterman Research president Michael Osterman said: “Service providers are starting to realise that dissatisfied customers, blacklisting and other problems caused by outbound spam are issues they cannot ignore. By eliminating spam originating from within their networks, service providers can reduce their costs while improving the service levels they offer their customers.”

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