With the amount of spam escalating and filling email inboxes and mail servers to overflowing, companies need several weapons in the battle to stem the tide.

"Spam is a problem for companies," says Ken Schneider, chief technology officer at Brightmail Inc., an anti-spam company based in San Francisco. "It can create a hostile work environment with objectionable messages. It can create a security problem because enough spams could cause a denial of service. It's a loss of productivity. It's a loss of bandwidth...Every trend we've seen shows that it's continuing to grow."

Anti-spam gurus at Brightmail and Mail-Abuse Prevention Systems LLC (MAPS) say there are several steps that companies and employees should be taking to decrease the flow of spam. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Employees should only use their corporate email account for legitimate company business. Anything else draws in spammers;
  • Be careful when posting messages in newsgroups. Use slightly varied versions of your email address so automatic spiders can't grab your address and use it;
  • Don't put corporate email addresses in an online directory;
  • If you do receive a spam message, do not respond and do not click on the opt-out link unless it's a company you have a legitimate business relationship with. Otherwise, any response from you only confirms that there is a warm body at that address;
  • Don't use your work address when filling out surveys or questionnaires;
  • Consider using a free email service for those times when you need to give a company an email address;
  • Beware of the checked boxes on web sites that says it's OK to send you commercial email;
  • Beware of checked boxes that say it's OK to sell your email address to another company;
  • Filter at the gateway and pay particular attention to emails coming in with attachments;
  • Do not buy from a spammer. That's the only thing that keeps them in business.