While slightly more than half of end users say spam isn't a problem, nearly 80 percent of IT managers say it's a problem that they're struggling with, according to a new study.

But despite their difference of opinion of the situation today, both end users and IT managers say it's a problem that will plague them for years to come.

''They really don't have a positive outlook about this,'' says Chris Miller, director of product management for Symantec, Inc., an information security company based in Cupertino, Calif. ''In some ways, it's almost like being on the Titanic. The iceberg has been hit and the crew is aware of all the impacts. The passengers up on the deck don't see the damage below and don't know all the implications, so they think it's a little more under control. But everybody knows it's going to be a long night and there's a lot more icebergs ahead.''


The study, conducted by Insight Express for Symantec, shows that overall end users are a lot less concerned about spam than their counterparts in the IT department.

Slightly more than 50 percent of end users surveyed say spam is not a problem in their workplace. However, 79.1 percent of IT managers say it is a problem in the workplace.

When end users were asked if they think spam is under control at their company, 8.4 percent say it's out of control; 23.3 percent say it's barely under control, and 68 percent say it is under control.

Compare that to IT administrators who were asked the same question. A similar 10 percent say it's out of control; 33 percent say it's barely out of control, and 56 percent say they have it under control.

''End users are experiencing some degree of respite from the amount of spam they are seeing,'' says Miller. ''But the IT administrators are basically getting the brunt of this problem. They're not just dealing with one person's spam. They're dealing with the spam that's coming in to everybody.

''They're dealing with bandwidth usage, storage usage, viruses it may be bringing in, staffing and the hours they have to put in,'' adds Miller. ''They're spending a lot of time with this problem. The end user sees it as garbage they have to deal with. The IT manager has a lot of other issues.''

In fact, the survey shows that spam has become one of the top worries for administrators.

When IT managers were asked what they spend the majority of their time on, spam came in second only to malware. Miller says 42.7 percent of managers report malware as their worst problem, and 16.4 percent say it's spam.

''For a lot of our customers, I'd say it's a nightmare,'' he adds.

And it appears to be a nightmare that isn't going away anytime soon. According to the survey, 70.9 percent of IT administrators say they'll still be wrestling with spam three years from now, while 72 percent of users say it will only get worse.

''This is painting a pretty grim picture moving forward,'' says Miller. ''They're both seeing increases and they're both seeing it as a long-term problem.''