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Spam volume keeps rising

Junk now accounts for 38 percent of the 31 billion e-mails sent each day in North America, according to IDC.

Rising tides of spam are drowning the usefulness of e-mail, according to a new report from IDC.

Spam has accounted for 38 percent of the 31 billion e-mails sent each day in North America in 2004, up from 24 percent in 2002, the market researcher said.

Improved content filtering and antispam tools will help fight the problem, as will the growing use of alternative communications means, such as video conferencing and instant messaging software.

The ever-increasing intrusion by spam is forcing users and IT staff to spend extra time and energy to identify and delete such spurious e-mail, which can be entry points for viruses, worms and offensive content.

E-mail is still the most preferred form of communication--business or otherwise--over the Internet. According to IDC, the volume of e-mail sent annually worldwide exceeded 1 exabyte , or 1 billion gigabytes, for the first time last year.

IDC researcher Mark Levitt said the biggest challenge is to use the lessons learned so far and the investments made to help screen all inbound and outbound e-mails without compromising worker efficiency, corporate governance and regulatory compliance requirements.

Companies also need to "treat e-mail as the starting point, rather than the ending point, of collaboration" by integrating e-mail with instant messaging, Web conferencing and other tools, Levitt said.