Spam or Spamming is the act of sending unsolicited messages in large quantities, mainly advertising. The most recognizable form of spam is emails. But the term, is also used in other forms of media. Such as, instant messaging spam, web search engine spam, and internet forum spam to name a few.
Spam, spam, spam
The term Spam refers to a sketch from a 1970s show called Monty Python in which they perform a sketch of a restaurant that uses Spam luncheon meat in every dish on the menu. While the waitress reads out the menu, the other patrons keep repeating the term spam throughout the skit. This was meant to poke fun at the large amount of Spam available for the citizens of England while they were trying to rebuild after World War II.
In the early days of chat rooms, when insiders of a group wanted to run out a newcomer from a chat room they would flood the screen with quotes from the Monty Python sketch. Eventually the newcomer would leave and they would go back to their usual conversation.
The phrase was also used by rival chat room groups. One group would invade a rival chat room and flood it with block text of the phrase “Spam” until the rival left their own chat room.
The term eventually came to mean excessive multiple postings. The New Oxford Dictionary of English defined spam as a trademarked food item but added a second definition “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to many newsgroups or users.”
You will find all sorts of businesses spamming as a way to advertise. You may have received spam from companies selling anything from vacation packages, to clothing and toys, or any number of products or services.
Spamming is really not an economical way for any company to do businesses.
But for the spammers, advertising this way has very small operating costs. The spammers have to manage their mailing lists, servers, infrastructures (both physical and virtual machines), IP ranges and domain names.
All the spammer needs to do, is to convince a few business owners that spamming is useful and necessary for them to stay in business. This is usually enough to make it profitable for the professional spammer.
Unfortunately, spammers don’t take into account the costs of lost productivity or fraud which affect the public and internet service providers. Employees can get caught up in sifting through useless emails which is a waste of time.
There are anti spam laws but sending spam in and of itself is not a crime punishable with jail time. But, sending certain messages can be criminal.
Spam can and is used for crime. It can be used to spread computer viruses, Trojan horses, or any variety of malicious software.
Spam messages may include pornography which may also include child porn. Child pornography is a federal crime.
Spam messages may contribute to fraud. The goal may be identity theft or advanced fee fraud.
Spammers may be trying to gain personal information through the use of phishing. This is when a user is tricked into clicking on a message that is made to look like a legitimate website and then the spammer tries to trick the user into giving up personal information such as usernames or passwords.
How do you stop spam emails?
G mail, Yahoo, Outlook, and Apple mail do provide the ability to block and report spam emails. Each service has a different procedure to do so.
Going through the process of blocking spam does not guarantee that you won’t receive future spam emails though.
If you recognize spam and report it, it will allow your email provider to better detect which messages are spam.
Check to see where the emails are from. Spam usually comes from a sender that you may not recognize. This doesn’t automatically make it spam but it is something to look for. Spam usually has a lot of dashes, number and letter combinations in the address.
The goal of a spammer is to get you to click on a link. So never click on a link to an email you don’t recognize. If you’re not sure, try contacting the sender directly to be sure it is legitimate. The sender may not even be aware of the emails which means that there system was compromised by the spammer.
Check the email’s spelling. Spam emails usually have bad or weird spelling.
Read the message. If there is a claim that you won some money or a contest then it is not real. Any email asking for passwords or personal information are definitely not legitimate.
Do not give out your email online. Spammers pick up your email when you sign up for coupons for example.
Don’t make your username the same as your email. All a spammer has to do is figure out the correct service to add at the end. Such as @gmail.com, or @yahoo.com and they now have your email address.
Never respond to spam. All that does is show the spammers that your email is an active address and you will continue getting more spam.
Spam, in it of itself is simply annoying. For a company, it hurts productivity because employees get caught up in sifting through useless and irrelevant emails. For an individual, It is a huge waste of time if you get caught up looking through them. The spammer is hoping that you will see something interesting and maybe click on an email.
But, spam can also be very destructive if you receive malicious software which could damage your electronic devices. Then the risk of identity theft becomes the problem as well. The possibility of a cyber criminal gaining access to your computer or personal accounts through spamming email is very real.