Just about anyone who accesses the Internet will know what spam is. Spam is the biggest problem of Internet email just as for the Postal Service the problem is junk mail.
Spam can be considered to be email that is unsolicited. Many times the intent is commercial but most times it is unwelcome. Spam is sent out in bulk by programs that are automated. This spam reaches millions of users of email, many times offering services and products that include pornography, get rich plans, and prescription medication.
Even though the content of spam can be objectionable it's the method of delivery that most people get upset about. Junk mail is delivered by the Postal Service and the sender pays the cost. Spam costs usually hit the receiver and the ones who transmit it. The sender of spam will incur some cost for using paid services to send the email but the cost is usually small.
So just why does everyone hate spam? You have the option of getting rid of it by simply deleting it. When you get one or two spam emails in one day you'll only be annoyed. But when you get 20 or one hundred spam email every day it can get to be a problem.
Spam was mostly seen on USENET (newsgroups that are created to talk about certain topics) before email became a main source of communication. As email became more advanced the advantage of sending email in bunches started to become more popular. This is called cross posting.
Cross posting was very quickly picked up by spammers. They could send the same message to thousands of people in the newsgroup without having to pay attention to what their individual interests were.
As email became more popular spammers found a whole new way to generate harm. They could use spambots (software) to harvest email addresses that had been posted on newsgroups or websites. Once they had all these addresses they could send out their messages to thousands of receivers at one time.
A spambot is a program that is used to collect email for address lists so that spammers can target many people at one time.
Spam is profitable just because of the huge number of messages that are sent out. This is called "shotgun" advertising and considered to be legitimate advertising. Many legit advertisers will use something known as "targeted" marketing where people voluntarily give their email addresses to the vendor. This way only welcomed messages are sent out.
The majority of people don't fall for schemes to get rich or are interested in randomly buying products. However, just one recipient out of thousands will give out their credit card number. This alone will repay the spammer with rewards.
There is no need to despair since spam is being battled on more that one front. There are trade groups and companies, technology, and legislation that are joining forces to put spam into the past.
This effort may not be effective 100% simply because what one person considers to be spam another will think of as the latest product they want to buy. At least progress is being made.
Until then you don't need to stand by waiting for a solution to spam. Other tips for battling spam will be discussed in later articles.
Paul Wilcox writes about internet security systems and other related topics for the Techno Security website. Get more helpful information about protecting yourself against online threats at http://www.technosecurity.ca