You open your computer one fine morning and start checking your e-mail for new messages, hoping to get an update from the company you are applying for or a reply from a friend who lives in another country.
You get excited when you see the alert that your inbox has tons of new messages but then become frustrated when you find out that these messages are not exactly what you were looking forward to reading.
You do not have any idea on who the sender is and worse, you do not know how these people got your e-mail address.
You scan through the list and see a variety of messages, from product advertisements to winning the lottery, even announcements from well-known companies.
Being naturally curious, you click one of the links and read on, barely noticing that you are being lured to some illegal scam or that your time is just being wasted by some nonsense survey.Or worse, you are sent a virus that crashes your computer so that you need to pay for virus removal or replace the operating system completely!
In case you have no idea what you got into, you have just immersed yourself in the wonderful world of spam.
Spam mail comes in all forms. E-mail spam, otherwise known as unsolicited bulk Email (UBE) or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is probably the most popular one, as it makes up 80-85% of all the e-mails being exchanged.
This kind of spam usually contains commercial content that range from advertisements to announcements.
Spamming through instant messaging services also exists.
Coined as spim (spam and IM), instant messaging spam usually occurs in IM servers such as Facebook, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, and Yahoo Messenger.
This works in a unique circular scheme when spammers would send messages like “Want to get rid of these annoying messages, click here!” and then lead the user to a website that, for a fee, would give him instructions in disabling the messenger service.
Most of the time, these so-called annoying messages that are received through the messenger are actually targeted to disable this same messenger, creating a perceived need and offering a solution.
Forum spams, on the other hand, are unwanted messages that are repetitively and continuously posted by automated spambots in popular Internet forums. These spams usually contain links that both increase the search engine visibility and generate traffic for commercial websites.
Mobile phones are not spared from spams either.
Directed towards the text messaging service, SMS spam are unwanted SMS messages that are sent to one’s mobile phone and are considered to be more annoying than its e-mail counterpart since the user has no choice but to read it first before deleting it.
What even makes it more annoying is the fact that some wireless service providers in the United States charge for every message, spam or not, received, thereby forcing mobile phone users to pay even for unsolicited SMS.
It may look like just an impatient player, but chatrooms and player-to-player messaging provided by online games become an avenue for spams to proliferate. The perfect example is message flooding, where a player would send similar messages over and over again, resulting to a violation on the terms of service contract for the website.
Blog spam, or “blam”, the latest type of spam that has hit the online community, started doing its dirty deed by repeatedly commenting on various blog posts with nothing more than a link to a commercial website.
The first ever e-mail that was considered as spam was an advertisement regarding the newest model of Digital Equipment Corporation computers. It was sent to 393 recipients through ARPANET in 1978.
It was during the early part of 1994 though, that spam became a household term when Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, a lawyer couple, advertised immigration law services via bulk Usenet posting, later dubbed as the Green Card Spam.
Using a Perl script, a high-level programming language, the couple generated an advertisement entitled “Green Card Lottery – Final One?”, referring to the services they are willing to render for non-US citizens who wish to avail of “green cards” that will allow them to live and work in the country.
This advertisement was sent to around 6,000 Usenet discussion groups, leading to numerous complaints and eventually to the repetitive crash of Internet Direct’s mail servers for two consecutive days.
Despite the negative feedback, the couple claimed that through the advertisement, they had an additional 1,000 new clients and earned $100,000 from an ad that only cost them pennies.
Today, spams have cost US organizations more than $13 billion last year, mainly due to lost productivity, additional equipment, and effective solutions that could thwart off the problem.
Since spam directly affects both network providers and computer users, time and attention is wasted in getting rid of such unwanted messages.
What’s worse is that these spams are possible carriers of trojan horses and computer viruses that when opened would lead to greater damage to your system, thus increasing the costs for repair, whereas spammers do not spend a single cent in creating the spam that makes corporations and individuals spend thousands or even millions of dollars for the damage their masterpiece brings.
It is just amazing when you think about how fast spam could reach anyone and everyone online.
One minute you are deleting messages, a few seconds later a new batch comes in.
It’s as if they know your e-mail address by heart.
Well, not really.