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Mon 20 Apr 2009 12:00 AM

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Spam consumes 33 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually

McAfee releases revealing report on the environmental impact of spam around the world

Spam consumes 33 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually
McAfee releases report on the environmental impact of spam around the world (Getty Images)

The energy used to transmit process and filter spam equals 33 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year, a new global report on the environmental impact of spam by McAfee has revealed.

That figure can be compared to the equivalent of electricity used in 2.4 million homes, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion gallons of gasoline.

“As the world faces the growing problem of climate change, this study highlights that spam has an immense financial, personal and environmental impact on businesses and individuals,” said Jeff Green, senior vice president of product development and McAfee Avert Labs. “Stopping spam at its source, as well investing in state-of-the-art spam filtering technology, will save time and money, and will pay dividends to the planet by reducing carbon emissions as well.”

In an interesting finding, spam filtering was found to save enough vast amounts of electricity - the equivalent of taking 13 million cars off the road. Similarly, if every inbox was protected by an effective spam filter, it was found that organizations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by 75%.

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MindSmith 11 years ago

An interesting look at the issues around spam; that is probably overlooked by others. However, whilst the report suggests that if every inbox was protected by an anti-spam filter it would reduce the spam energy cost by 75%; it did not elaborate if that 75% includes the MegaBytes of anti-spam signatures, virus definitions and anti-spam patches that would be required on a daily basis for the anti-spam solution to work effectively. Therefore if environmentally conscious Internet users were to follow what is suggested in this report; would the spam (and related Kw) energy figures be lower than originally reported, or just the same; …. but with security vendors benefiting from this new eco-friendly idealism? By the same token if one were to chose to be ‘eco-friendly Internet user’ and follow the advice of the environmentally conscious vendors; would the same security vendors also then advocate against the use of social networking sites? I know that most people in the region get more Social Networking messages per day; than they do spam; and consume more Kw per day connecting to and updating the social networking profiles than the average spammer would in a day. So I guess the next step would be a report on Kws consumed by SN users, and an anti-social networking filtering on inboxes and browsers across the region? An interesting report; pity they spoilt it by trying to make yet another product sale out of it.

Louay 11 years ago

It is great that companies like McAfee put out these reports to educate the sector and the wider world and if this means that - based on the investment in time and resources that they have put in - choose to highlight a solution that they have developed for this very issue then why is that such a bad thing? At the end of the day we ALL have a choice in these matters and if you choose to buy an alternative solution then that is up to you. Not sure it is necessary to take a side swipe at the manufacturer for their attempt to raise awarenesss of this issue.