Microsoft's chief spam fighter claimed yesterday that the spread of spam can be contained within two years, but admitted that the problem will get worse before it gets better.
"For a lot of people the situation has got so bad that they are willing to give up e-mail if the spam situation does not get any better," said Ryan Hamlin, general manager of Microsoft's antispam technology and strategy group. He added that almost half of all e-mail is spam, and that the figure was likely to rise to 65% next year.
The cost to US businesses to combat spam will be about $9bn this year.
"It won't surprise me if we spend close to $18bn next year." Hamlin's estimate includes the cost of filtering software and storage hardware. Loss of productivity has not been factorered in.
Hamlin believed that efforts by Microsoft, its industry partners and even traditional rivals such as AOL, along with antispam legislation should halt the growth in spam. Within two years it would be contained and reduced to a mere nuisance, he predicted.
"An occasional spam may show up, but it is kind of noise and you will just delete it. Spam [fighting] will evolve into a measure-countermeasure cycle similar to the antivirus landscape," he added.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service