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Email User Safety At Risk - MAAWG Consumer Survey 2010

Neil Schwartzman

The 2010 version of the now-annual Messaging Anti-abuse Working Group (MAAWG) 'Email Security Awareness and Usage Report' was released yesterday. While un-belied by the title, the vernacular name might get a bit more attention: "The MAAWG Consumer Email Survey".

The key findings of this comprehensive study can be found here, and the full report downloaded here.

Consumers were surveyed in North America and across Europe with variety of questions from computer expertise and savvy, to their preferences of email.

Many of the findings are both shocking and disturbing; despite efforts to the educate, consumers are well unaware of the consequences of their actions, and a painful percentage continue to click on spam, knowingly, instead of deleting it immediately. Such actions have, of course, lead to the gargantuan increase in botnet presence on the 'net and zombie'd computers continue to steal millions of bits of personal and confidential business information as a result.

Clearly, a concerted effort to heighten consumer awareness of the very real dangers on the net is needed; involving all stakeholders, marketers, receiving sites, government, and NGO consumer advocacy groups. The resources are out there, for example StopSpamHere.ca and Onguardonline.gov (more resources below), but do not appear to be used, or sage advice heeded.

Equally striking are the findings about the email consumers actually want and care about. it has long been CAUCE's contention that email is about personal communication. The survey's respondents from across the world agree.

On page 14 of the full report consumers state their preferences for various types of email; clearly one-to-one communications is still the cock of the walk when it comes to the type of email we all like to receive, messages from friends and family were ranked as 'extremely or very important' to 82% of respondents.

Strikingly, marketing email was only rated similarly by 15% of those surveyed; however, 32% did view such mail as 'somewhat important'.

This seemingly speaks to some fundamental issues that the marketing community must deal with if they are to better themselves in the eyes of consumers, irrelevant content and over-mailing are serious issues that enlightened marketers are working hard to deal with, but much more can be done, industry-wide to address them.

Other End-user oriented Resources (please help promote them!)
StaySafeOnline.org
StopBadware.org

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE
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