Spam - The Facts and Figures

Spam is the result of the activities of a small number of people; however these activities are becoming a big problem for Internet users. Spammers are flooding the Internet with messages and making it increasing difficult to get on with our daily tasks and work, which involves the Internet.

Spammers are not only attacking our inbox they have also started to turn on anti-spam sites. They have started to send out spam emails using the anti-spammers names, email addresses and website addresses within their spam messages. This is known as a 'Joe-job.' The reason as to why spammers do this is to cause trouble for the people who are fighting them and trying to stop them sending out spam messages.

There are two main forms of spam present on the Internet. The one is what we all already know about, email spam, which targets individual users with direct mail messages and steals Internet mailing lists as well as searching the web for email addresses that spammers can add to their spam lists.

The second popular form of spam on the Internet is not so well known. This comes in the form of Usenet spam. This is a single message that is sent to around 20 users of Usenet newsgroups. However through experience Usenet users have grown to ignore such messages as they have found that a message posted to so many newsgroups is often not relevant. These messages are aimed at 'lurker's,' people who read newsgroups but never post in them or rarely post in them. By doing this spammers are robbing the user's utility of the newsgroup as it will be overwhelmed with adverts and irrelevant posts.

The submission of the name "Spam" to unwanted posts and communication originates in Chat-rooms. It was first seen in the chat-rooms of People-Link in the early 1980's as a way of getting rid of unwanted "newcomers." When someone would enter a chat-room full of friends who were in mid-conversation, and tried to turn the conversation in an unwelcome direction, two veteran members of the room would begin typing in the Monty Python "Spam" routine at high speed. They would fill the screen with "Spam Spam Spam eggs Spam Spam and Spam" etc, and make all other communication impossible. The other members of the room would just wait until the newcomer moved on to a different room.

Email, newsgroup and chat room spam is a globally growing problem with the countries that spread the most spam globally being the USA (28.4%), South Korea (5.2%), China (4.9%) and Russia (4.4%).

There has previously been pressure to make email spam illegal and it has been successful in certain jurisdictions but not in all meaning that spammers merely take advantage of this fact and post more spam to places where they won't get in trouble for doing so.

Anti spammers want to see this pressure to make spam illegal more often as spam can not only waste many production hours and be really aggravating; it can also lead to criminal activity in the sense that spammers have to potential to spread computer viruses such as Trojan horses and other malicious software. There objective for doing this may well be identity theft meaning that action needs to taken against spammers and it needs to be taken now.

Helen is the web master of MySpamBin, specialists in Anti Spam Blocker software

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