How much does spam cost?

Spam has costs which many people simply don't consider.  These include:

  • Staff time to delete spam
  • Network bandwidth to receive spam
  • Data storage costs, especially if emails are automatically archived
  • Accidentally deleting real emails
  • Virus infections and potential data loss
  • Malware infections

Let's just look at the cost of staff time.

Let's assume that it takes about 10 seconds for a computer user to identify and delete spam.  If a user receives 50 emails a day it is likely that at least half of them will be spam without some form of filtering in place.  That means 25 emails will need to be deleted every day which amounts to 250 seconds or four minutes.

The minimum wage in Australia is $16.80 per hour.  Four minutes equates to $1.12.  The average wage is $31.00 per hour which means four minutes is $2.07.  Of course this doesn't include any other costs of employment but for this exercise it doesn't have to.

Washmail costs just $0.18 per day.  How much employee time do you have to save to justify spending 18 cents?

Cryptolocker, introduced in September 2013, has taken spam to a whole new level of threat.

A spam email will arrive that will lure you to a site.  Depending on how secure your computer and internet connection, you may be tricked into installing an update or piece of software.  Once installed the virus then encrypts any file on your network that has certain extensions such as Word documents, Excel, AutoCAD, photos and videos.  You then receive a pop up message that says you have a limited time to pay a ransom (usually 72 hours) or the decryption key will be destroyed forever.

Removal of the virus is pretty simple.  Recovery of the data can usually be done via backup (assuming the backup itself hasn't been encrypted) but the cost and downtime impact can be significant.

Whilst no filtering system can be 100% effective, WashMail will block Cryptolocker and other phishing emails 99% of the time.