EU to lose billions through spam and viruses

The surging tide of unsolicited emails and malware is set to cost European businesses dear

Spam emails will cost European companies a total of €85bn euros over the next four years, according to research released on Monday by analyst firm The Radicati Group.

In a study of the European email market, the group predicted that the cost to businesses of unsolicited emails and viruses is set to soar over the next few years.

The Radicati Group estimated that 46 percent of emails received in Europe will be spam in 2004, rising to 71 percent in 2008. The impact on the corporate wallet will be considerable.

"Reducing spam has become the top priority of a growing number of companies, frustrated with the cost and inconvenience caused by spam. By the end of 2004, the total European financial loss due to spam will equal around €9,200m," said the group. "Over the next four years we expect these costs to increase at an average annual rate of 75 percent, totalling €85,400m by 2008".

Spam puts pressure on corporate computer systems, forcing IT managers to invest in more bandwidth and network storage than would otherwise be necessary, on top of the money many firms spend on anti-spam products. It also hinders workplace productivity.

Last year, the European Union brought in the Privacy and Electronics Communication Directive, which made it illegal for firms to send unsolicited emails to people they had no business relationship with. The UK implementation of this directive, though, has been criticised by some experts, who claim it won't solve the problem.

The Radicati Group also believes that the economic damage caused by viruses is set to increase. "The economic impact of viruses in Europe is expected to total over €9,000m by the end of 2004, growing to €30,000m by 2008," it said.