Spam remains a preferred tactic of cyber criminals as businesses continue to struggle with it.
A survey of 400 US and UK businesses by GFI Software found that they were not taking advantage of the latest technology available to them to combat these threats and better defend their networks, despite most (72 per cent in the US and 75 per cent in the UK) saying they receive too much spam.
When asked about the volume of spam they were dealing with, more than 80 per cent of respondents to GFI's survey in both countries reported no decrease over the previous year.
Research released this week by Kaspersky Lab found that the volume of spam is declining, which it mainly attributed to the takedown of major botnets in 2011, the number of emails containing harmful attachments or links was on the increase.
It found that spam has been reduced to around 80 per cent of total email traffic, while emails containing harmful attachments or links made up 3.8 per cent of traffic.
Also, the Symantec Intelligence Security Report for February revealed a one per cent fall in spam since January to one in 1.47 emails, following a continuing trend of global spam levels diminishing gradually since the latter part of 2011.
Yet 70 per cent of GFI Software's survey respondents rated their anti-spam solution as being either marginally effective or not effective at all; five per cent said they use no anti-spam solution; while 48 per cent of UK respondents rely on the anti-spam capabilities of an anti-virus suite; and 11 per cent on an anti-spam gateway appliance.
Meanwhile, despite almost 90 per cent of all respondents saying they regularly educate employees about the risks of opening spam, 40 per cent of businesses in the UK (and 44 per cent in the US) said their networks had been compromised as a result of staff opening malicious links or responding to information requests contained within spam.
Phil Bousfield, general manager of GFI Software's Infrastructure Business Unit, said: “This research shows that the spam problem is not going away and, in fact, the delivery of malicious links and files makes it more dangerous than ever before.
“Businesses need to respond by taking advantage of all the latest spam-fighting technologies available to them. The most effective way to stop spam is to employ a multi-layered defence that encompasses on-premise and cloud-based anti-spam solutions.”