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Spam Filtering Makes Workers Miss Deadlines

E-mail messages mistaken for spam by filtering software have caused four in ten workers to miss a deadline, a survey says.

E-mail messages mistaken for spam by filtering software -- known as "false positives" in the anti-spam business -- have caused four in ten workers to miss a deadline, a survey released Tuesday at a London security conference said.

The Infosecurity Europe conference partnered with Mirapoint, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor of e-mail server and security appliances for the survey, which noted that 42 percent of U.K. workers said they'd missed a deadline due to an e-mail message gone astray.

Two-thirds of them said that legitimate messages they should have received were blocked by their company's spam filter; two thirds of that number said the problem happened on a monthly basis, but a quarter said it occurred every week.

"The spam hysteria of the last few years has created the impression that blocking unwanted e-mail is the primary concern for businesses, with the result that some service providers and companies appear to have lost sight of their users' real needs," said Nigel Brooke, a vice president with the European office of Mirapoint, in a statement.

"Filtering unwanted messages ultimately serves no purpose if it undermines the effectiveness of the overall message network's responsiveness," he added.

A conference spokesperson said that although false positives may be impossible to eliminate entirely, the result -- missed deadlines -- can be avoided by using such standard e-mail security and anti-spam tools as "white lists" and giving users easy and timely access to spam quarantine folders.


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