Blog , 26 Apr 2017

The Growth And Resulting Cost Of Spam Abuse To Service Providers

Tobias Knecht,

Founder and CEO, Abusix

Spam abuse is one of the biggest forms of network abuse that service providers have to deal with in their daily IP abuse reports. Spam has morphed from annoying, unsolicited ‘junk’ emails to unsolicited emails containing malicious attachments that can cause significant damage to users if opened. In March 2016, the number of emails that contained malicious attachments on computers with an installed Kaspersky Lab virus detection product reached 22,890,956—four times the average for the same period last year.

At the start of 2017, millions of Gmail users across the world fell victim to a phishing scam that started with a spam email containing a malicious PDF document. This malware then set up a fake Google login page to steal users’ passwords. Service providers, in response to consumer outcries, are taking costly steps to reduce the amount of spam abuse passing through their systems.

The Cost Of Commercial Spam Abuse

For spam creators, the cost of sending thousands of junk email messages every hour is cheap. For unscrupulous businesses, it’s an ideal form of ‘advertising’. For service providers, however, the costs are more significant. These costs can range from connectivity and data storage issues to administrative costs associated with reduced bandwidth, slow systems, or even outages.

While all service providers are anti-spam, most don’t care or know how to solve the problem. Many also think that dealing with spam and closing the spam holes in their-end user systems costs too much. As such, they do nothing to prevent spammers from operating from within their networks. However, AbuseHQ is a cost-effective network abuse handling platform that shuts down abuse at its source.

The top 10 worst offenders (service providers and hosting companies) as of March 2017, are listed here.

The Cost Of Bandwidth

Service providers have to purchase bandwidth based on the projected usage of their current customer base. This cost can form a large portion of a small-to-medium-sized service provider’s budget. When an outside spammer consumes this bandwidth by sending vast amounts of unsolicited emails, service providers can either choose to absorb the costs themselves or pass the costs onto their customers.

The other alternative is letting their customers cope with a slower bandwidth. If customers are inconvenienced through higher costs or slower bandwidth, their first reaction is to look for another, more efficient, service provider.

See also: Common Inbound Abuse Channels That You Should Be Using For Solid Service Provider Security

The Cost Of Reputation

The service provider industry is highly competitive. Those that don’t deal with spam effectively, are quickly identified by consumers. Sites like spamhaus.org are dedicated to exposing spam-friendly service providers. If a major corporation falls victim to a vicious phishing attack, their first reaction is to blame the service provider, as hackers are generally elusive and difficult to trace. As a result, there are numerous court cases currently taking place where service providers are being sued for being the spam or phishing conduit.

However, service providers that only focus on spam and do not pay careful attention to other abuse threats can open themselves to further reputational damage and litigation. This can include failing to implement and enforce abuse policies or terminate repeat offenders, ranging from copyright infringement to child exploitation offenses.

The Cost Of Time

Handling spam can take up the majority of an abuse team’s time, especially if they are manually working through emails. An abuse desk can receive more than 5,000 reports of the same issue from different reporters. To deal with network abuse effectively, abuse teams need to integrate and aggregate all their intelligence to make fast, informed decisions. If the reports are not aggregated, the team will have no choice but to deal with each report one-by-one.

See also: How Abusix Reduces Network Abuse And Supports Ticket Volume

Protecting service providers from spam is an ongoing task for even the most vigilant abuse desk team. To help teams gain clarity and take faster action, AbuseHQ from Abusix integrates into existing infrastructures and provides the insight necessary for your daily IP abuse report to identify and shut down spam at its source.

To find out more about how AbuseHQ can help abuse desks cost-effectively deal with spam abuse, talk to our team to arrange a trial.

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