Roger's Security Blog

As Chief Security Advisor of Microsoft EMEA - lets share interesting security information

The Carbon Footprint of Spam

The Carbon Footprint of Spam

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McAfee just published an interesting report as they are taking a different approach on Spam. They were looking at the environmental impact of Spam. So, how much energy do we have to invest in order to fight spam?

These are the key findings from their report:

  • An estimated worldwide total of 62 trillion spam emails were sent in 2008
  • Globally, annual spam energy use totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh), or 33 terawatt hours (TWh). That’s equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes in the United States, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion United States gallons of gasoline.
  • Spam filtering saves 135 TWh of electricity per year. That’s like taking 13 million cars off the road
  • If every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter, organizations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by approximately 75 percent or 25 TWh per year. That’s equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road
  • The average GHG emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2. That’s like driving three feet (one meter) in equivalent emissions, but when multiplied by the annual volume of spam, it’s like driving around the Earth 1.6 million times
  • A year’s email at a typical medium-size business uses 50,000 KWh; more than one fifth of that annual use can be associated with spam
  • Filtering spam is beneficial, but fighting spam at the source is even better. When McColo, a major source of online spam, was taken offline in late 2008, the energy saved in the ensuing lull —  before spammers rebuilt their sending capacity —  equated to taking 2.2 million cars off the road
  • Much of the energy consumption associated with spam (80 percent) comes from end-users deleting spam and searching for legitimate email (false positives). Spam filtering accounts for just 16 percent of spam-related energy use

And that’s just by using Spam-Filters! The whole report can be found here: The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam.

Needless to say that – if you are using Exchange you already have a good Spam-protection out of the box. You even get better with Forefront for Exchange and even better with Stirling:

I deployed Stirling, the next version of Forefront, on my Exchange Server. I have five active mailboxes (really a huge load smile_wink) and a few operational ones. The figures of Sitlring are very interesting:

During the last month, I got 58’636 incoming messages. My Spam-Filter found 57’439 as being Spam, which means that I had a Spam-Rate of 97.96% (and I do not know of any mail I lost in the transit).

If you look at the overview statistics, it looks like this:

2009,05 Spam 3

The details of the connection filter:

2009,05 Spam 1 And last but definitely not least, the performance of the filter after the mails passed all the connection-level filters:

2009,05 Spam 2 What I like with the last statistics is, that the SPAM Confidence Level is either very high or very low but nothing in between. So, the filter gives me a clear message on whether it is SPAM or not. There is close to nothing which is “maybe SPAM” – it is less than 1%!

Roger

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