Spam

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.”

Why?

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.

Spam and crime

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.

 

Detecting 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.

 

Finally

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.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Spam”

  1. Thank you for reminding me of the dangers of spam. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between legitimate emails and those that are spam. Misspelled words or grammar mistakes within the title is usually the first clue for me but doing a quick scan isn’t always time efficient for someone like me that gets a ton of emails per day.

    The talk of internet chat rooms spamming unwanted visitors brought a smile to my face. It brought me back to years ago when everyone and their mother ran a slava-nap server and hosted their own chat room. Lots of late night fun haha!

    Many people, especially those new to the internet, do not think about spam so much these days with the services of spam blockers but the reality is that these services just can’t catch everything. Worse yet, the spammers are continuously creating new material to send out. Thanks again for the warnings and info. It’s always good to remember to keep an eye out for spam!

  2. I was very intrigued by the history behind “spam” it is very interesting.

    Although nowadays several security tools can detect spams, and even mail providers categorize them and filter those before you get to them, still many users tend to fall victims of such emails. Users should be vigilant when getting emails from unknown sources, with subjects and links not expected and be very careful when clicking on links.

    Sometimes, spammers, tend to target the emails to the recipient in a way to make him trust the source, hence clicking that link or attachments.

  3. Awesome blog post. This is really helpful. I was able to learn more about spamming. I never really knew the origin of spamming and what it meant. I have truly encountered spams in the past. The ones I get on my emails are quite minimal because I am very careful of where I input my email as it is what I use to run my businesses. On instant messaging apps, it’s mostly used to advertise or annoy. I didn’t know spam could be used to get access to one’s personal information like phishing. Thanks again for teaching me.

  4. I appreciate your article on this subject, good to know about another interesting topic. Actually, this is exactly the information that I was looking for. Information about the dangers of spam and when I landed on your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in detail. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for everyone who is interested in this topic.

    It’s great that your website motivates people to find other ways of learning. Thank you for reminding me of the dangers of spam.

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