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Survey exposes holes in antispam armor

An online study by an antispam-software company points out shortcomings in organizations' antispam strategies.

One in every three companies that have an antispam tool in place has not updated the software since installation, according to a survey released Tuesday. The study, conducted by antispam-software maker Clearswift and privacy group TRUSTe, found that more than 72 percent of organizations surveyed had some spam defense in place. But 55 percent of them felt those defenses were inadequate.

A majority of those surveyed--63 percent--did not use Web filtering software together with e-mail filtering technology. That leaves companies vulnerable to spammers who circumvent filtering at the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) e-mail gateway. The poor configuration of antispam tools often seems to have led to the quarantining of legitimate e-mails, and 14 percent of companies said such "false positive" rates within their organizations are between 5 percent and 25 percent. For another 3 percent of companies, this figure is more than 25 percent. Similarly, only 14 percent of organizations have associated themselves with international initiatives to curb spam, such as Cauce, Jam Spam and Spamhaus, the survey said.