Spam is one of the most annoying and some say annoy ingest things to do. When 90% of the email that reaches the World Wide Web is spam, it quickly becomes a nuisance. Spam has evolved a lot from its humble beginning in the 1980’s as harmless and necessary spam for individuals to be able to send messages to the people listed in their email directory.
Spam has grown from a simple dog eat dog story to an industry unto itself where billions of dollars are produced and more are sent in unwanted emails than any other method of communication. Spam has become an unavoidable aspect of doing business on the Internet.
The origins of spam
Back in the days, the only way to send mail was by using a horse and cart to deliver letters from one person to the next. This method of spamming – known as horse cacklying – involved the sender riding into town on a Friday afternoon or evening and delivering letters to people on the curb who looked out of town.
By the late 1980’s, this method of spamming had evolved into the more obvious form of emailing, with the advent of ISP (Internet Service Provider) spam systems that allow multiple users to send emails to a single recipient, and range from a simple request to eavesdropping, or sending a virus.
These systems work to filter email through a series of filters, creating a unique identifier for each user. The unique identifier is then multiplied by a number between 0 and the filter’s value, creating a message containing random bits. The filter can be set up to exclude a particular amount of sources, creating a newsletter or banner ad for a specific, but large, group of websites.
The advent of the Internet to the world of tomorrow
However, it is estimated that 90% of all email on the Internet is spam, and as such, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay ahead of the game. Spammers are getting more skilled at their scamming techniques, and are turning their attention to the Internet.
They are spamming e-mail campaigns to promote fake, cheap and Vince Vince-like plans for cheap PC hard drives called “Vinceys”. The campaigns are strikingly similar, and are usually paid for via a per-ounce basis, with the message being sent to millions of consumers, or referred to as “the plague” if it affects them.
Another, less obvious, variation on the “Plain Squid” is to send a message to the entire Internet community and ask them to send this message to everyone in their address books. In other words, this is just spam on a larger scale, and it is doing a fair job of distracting users from other, more important tasks.
How to distinguish between plain old spam and malicious attachments?
If you receive a suspicious message that doesn’t sound like your friends wrote it or you didn’t Writer’s block on their site and call them, and ask them to prove it, you can be pretty sure it is spam. If they can’t prove it, forward it along with the header to firstname.lastname@example.org and to the company, bank or ISP account that the message is purportedly from. Take a deep breath before you do this and whatever you do, don’t forward it to your friends ever.
In your e-mail, don’t refer to the message as a “forward”, “reply”, or “reply all” – as a matter of fact, it is an indirect message and should be deleted immediately. Spam is only annoying when it is directed at you, so don’t fall for the “solution in search”, whatever that may be.