The average UK PC is rendered unusable for the equivalent of around nine working days every year because the owner is cleaning up spam or fighting viruses. This is two days a year more than the average UK worker takes off as sick leave, according to Yahoo.
A survey of 2,500 UK email users found that 70 percent of users had been infected by a virus in the past year and 42 percent say they found it less stressful fighting their way through rush-hour traffic than finding legitimate emails among the spam in their inboxes.
Spam is a problem for all email users but some companies are hit harder than others.
Vbug, a Microsoft developer support company based in the UK with just six employees, received around 720,000 emails messages in a month, 99.84 percent of which were spam.
Graham Parker, Vbug's chairman, said his employees had to spend more time each day finding the few legitimate emails among the mountain of spam.
"We have had our domain for the last seven years and considered changing our email addresses, but then you run the risk of losing contact with people you want to stay in touch with," Parker said.
The government has been waving the anti-spam flag for some time, but insists it cannot do anything about the problem alone.
Communications minister Stephen Timms said international collaboration is needed to win the war against spam.
"Nobody -- be it government, industry or otherwise -- can work alone to eliminate the problem overnight; if we are to have an impact on reducing it, the fight against spam demands international co-operation and collaborative campaigns," Timms said.
Some experts have claimed that the anti-spam laws brought in by the UK government last year have actually made the problem worse.