Why does spam exist?
Of course, it’s all about money. That’s why spammers exist and they continue spamming more than ever before. Spam email attracts visitors to a web address, usually to buy some product that may even be fake.
Usually, the beginning is like this. Our email accounts receive a few unwanted mails, usually 2 or 3. After a week, our inbox is full of hundreds of spam emails, and every day we receive more and more spam emails. Why, after our first spam email the number of spam emails per day increases?
Why do I receive more and more spam?
There are several networks of spammers, they exchange the email addresses that they own, and gradually you receive even more spam.
How do spammers get my email?
There are many ways to get thousands of email addresses to spam. There are web crawlers that search the web for email addresses, just like google, but they look for the @ sign, particular for emails. Bulletin boards are the perfect targets. They have many members registered and the emails are displayed in the profile page. That’s why many bulletin boards have the option not to make public the email address of the member. If another member wants to send mail to a buddy on the bulletin board, he can do this with a web-mail interface, this way the members of a bulletin board are safe from web crawlers.
Often, your email address is sent to the spammers by you, and this is very often legal. When you register to a site and, somewhere at the bottom is a checkbox that says ‘I agree with receiving emails from sponsors of this site’. If the checkbox is checked and you submit, you will soon receive unwanted email. Usually owners of this sites sell the emails they store this way to spammers, and that’s how they benefit.
Why after I clicked the unsubscribe link I keep receiving spam?
Very often, this is a trick made by spammers, of course. There are many email addresses that are no longer used by the owner, (probably because of spam). It is a waste of time for spammers to send spam to this addresses that are not used. Therefore, at the bottom of the email they put a string that says something similar too ‘Click here to unsubscribe’. Actually, the link will not unsubscribe, paradoxical, it will tell the spammers you are an active user… and you will receive more spam for a long time after this.
How ISP helps us?
A big ISP, like MSN blocks over 2 billion spam emails per day. Many ISPs, especially big ones block spam email and often this is efficient. This is an advantage for both the user and the provider. Many users look for providers that stop unwanted mails.
Can I report a spammer?
Yes, and often you are encouraged to do so. You can report the spammer to the ISP he uses. You can do this by finding the IP of the spammer that sent you the unwanted messages and using a “whois” utility like RIPE (http://ripe.net) to find the email and phone number of the ISP from where the spam was sent. Usually look for ‘abuse’ section, and often the email of your ISP for this kind of complaints is abuse@yourisp.
What the statistics show?
Image from http://www.raingod.com/angus/Computing/Internet/Spam/Statistics/
You can observe the ascending number of spam emails.
What authorities do about this?
In EU spam is illegal… you can find more about this here: http://www.spamhaus.org/newsdog.lasso?article=112. You can US isn’t sure what to do. Moreover, spam may get legal in US, because of Congressman Billy Tauzin. More information about this you can find at the following link: http://dc.internet.com/news/article.php/2233551.
Anyhow, spam is illegal in almost all US states.
Can I become a spammer?
It’s not so hard to become a spammer. Perhaps you made a site and you are not satisfied with your small number of visitors. You can start with your address book. Select all the contacts from your address book and put them in the “To:” field. All your contacts will receive an email with your advertising message for your site, and, if the site contains something interesting, you may get 10 more visitors. With 1000 sent emails, you can get 100 more visitors… and so on. You can see more about at this link http://computer.howstuffworks.com/spam1.htm .
Anyway, I don’t recommend you to start spamming. First, because it may be illegal in your country, and second… think about the people you spam. If you are ok with spamming other peoples email boxes… you may have problems with the law.
Is there any legal spam?
There are sites that promote the ‘Spam free’ sites, but actually, this is a different type of spam… a more legal one. These sites are usually called bulk email sites too. They sell email lists for a price. Usually 100.000 emails cost about 20$. These sites sell legal email addresses because the owners of this email addresses agreed with receiving offers from affiliates. Just how I said in the “How do spammers get my email?” answer. If you want to check this kind of sites, search with Google the string “bulk email”.
How do spam filters stop spam?
There are numerous ways spam filters use for stopping spam. Usually they block the IPs of known spam email senders. This is inefficient although, because spammers frequently change the IPs they use.
Another way to stop spam is to find it by searching terms often found in the subject of spam emails, like “sex”. The problem is that this may also block emails that you want to receive. Moreover, spammers know how to bypass this protection by adding a random generated number or string to the subject of the email like this “46a9Bd”.
Are there any viruses that spam?
Yes, for example look at the recent virus named SoBig. This virus has the purpose to use the infected machine for distributing spam. More exactly, spammers route the spam using the infected machines, and therefore the spam comes from an IP that is not blacklisted.
When was the first spam?
1978.There is an entire history of spam at this address: http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamterm.html.
Where can I find more information?
What’s your opinion about spam?
I don’t entirely agree with spam. Although, I believe that the commercial messages you receive when you check a checkbox that says “I agree with receiving commercial email messages and I want to make my email address public” as you register to a site shouldn’t be illegal. You have the option to choose if you want to receive them… this isn’t spam.