Spam is no tasty treat for federal IT managers

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on e-mail policies is based on a telephone survey of 100 government readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT or systems managers.

Spam is a real pain in the can for government systems managers.

Nearly half'45 percent'of IT managers in a GCN telephone survey on e-mail policies and trends reported that their top concern is the unrelenting assault on users of advertisements and other junk mail.

'We need to limit the amount of spam our agency gets,' said an Environmental Protection Agency information resources section chief in Dallas who described his office's e-mail filtering software as ineffective.

'We need a bit more [spam] filtering,' added an Air Force database administrator in Omaha, Neb.
'I wish we were monitoring for spam better,' echoed an Army network administrator in Millington, Tenn.

Eighty-two percent of managers said their systems have e-mail filtering software; more than half, 54 percent, described that software as very effective. But 46 percent said the filters were only somewhat or not at all effective.

Only 19 percent of the managers we surveyed worried about e-mail security breaches, including the introduction of malicious code into systems via e-mail attachments.

A further 9 percent were most concerned about inappropriate use by employees.

Third-party concerns

Some managers expressed anxieties about employee use of third-party or commercial e-mail accounts. About 67 percent said their agencies have policies on e-mail that include curbs on use of such accounts.

'I would like to see restrictions on employee usage of e-mail,' said a Postal Service information systems manager in Phoenix whose office has no restraints on personal use of the agency's e-mail system or on use of outside accounts.

Nearly all'97 percent'of the managers in the survey said their agencies disseminate formal policies on e-mail use. Most policies are posted on intranets and/or contained in employee handbooks, the survey found.

Some 90 percent of managers said those policies contain at least some restrictions on personal use.

Some survey participants said their policies should incorporate tougher rules on user management of e-mail to save disk space.

'We need to delete all files that are 30-plus days old,' said an Army information systems manager in Milwaukee.

One manager said his agency's e-mail policy was fine, with one qualification:
'I wouldn't make any changes but I wish it was more enforceable,' a Court of Federal Claims systems manager said.


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