According to research from IDC, corporations are losing millions of dollars from clogged inboxes, low productivity and wasted IT resources.
Last year, spam represented 32 per cent of all email sent in the US, a figure that has doubled since 2001. Three-quarters of survey respondents felt the spam situation will deteriorate further in the next two years.
Antispam firms such as Brightmail and MessageLabs have released figures indicating that spam now forms more than 60% of email traffic worldwide.
"Spam has become more than just a nuisance," said Mark Levitt, research vice president for Collaborative Computing at IDC. "It is quickly becoming both a major productivity drain and potential legal liability in organizations across the globe. The business impact of spam only grows more serious as the volume continues to rise."
The report indicated that growth in spam has caused firms to invest in anti-spam technology.
IDC assessed a firm of 5,000 workers for the return on investment in anti-spam products. With no protection, it was estimated each worker spent an average of 10 minutes a day dealing with spam. Over one year this could have cost the company $4.1million, the report said. But, it stated that anti-spam technology could reduce that time to five minutes, which could leave the firm $783,000 richer.
Many respondents expressed concern that government legislation will have no effect on the problem.
IDC surveyed 1,000 IT managers in North America.