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PC Security: Spam

If you've been on the Internet for at least an hour, you have probably seen the word 'spam.' Spam in this sense is not potted meat. It is unsolicited commercial email, better known as junk email. It commonly mentions making money, prescription drugs, financial services, and in many cases contains scams.

Spam is sent out by unscrupulous people with bulk email software. It annoys most of us, but it can be extremely costly for others. It can bog servers, and cost hours of man power to sort and get rid of it at major corporations. This doesn't even count the computer resources that it uses on an individual computer. While an individual user may have to delete five or six - or even twenty spam messages a day, the average business deletes hundreds and sometimes thousands per day.

Spam did not start in email. It actually started with postal mail. But in terms of the Internet, it started with USENET newsgroups. These newsgroups were established for focused topic discussions long before the days of Microsoft Windows, when everybody did not have a PC or two in their home. It was common then for spammers to 'cross post' their spam, meaning that they submitted the exact same 'post' or 'spam' to various newsgroups. Cross-posting was meant to make it easier for legitimate USENET users to reach wider audiences with their thoughts or ideas, but spammers of course quickly learned how to use this new technology to get their spam messages out to a wider audience as well.

As email was becoming more and more popular, spambots were created. Spambots crawl web sites and harvest email addresses. These email addresses are added to the list to be spammed later. Static web sites aren't the only victims of spambots, they also crawl newsgroups and forums.

Think about this: If a spammer has a spambot that collects a million email addresses, and then uses a bulk sending program to send spam out to those million people, the only thing he would have to pay for is his Internet connection (and many spammers don't use their own connection). He may have had to buy the spambot, and he may have had to buy the bulk sending program. However, if just 1% of that million buy whatever it is he is spamming, that is 10,000 sales he has made. That makes it pretty profitable for the spammer.

Internet service providers, web hosts, governments, corporations, and individuals all have spam problems, and all work to combat spam. You can do your part by reporting spammers to your ISP, and to their ISP, and by using spam filtering software that is commonly included with most email clients.

  PC Security: Index
  PC Security: Internet Browsers
  PC Security: Spam
  PC Security: Stopping Spam Part 1
  PC Security: Stopping Spam Part 2
  PC Security: Spam Scams
  PC Security: Email Security and Spam
  PC Security: Email Security
  PC Security: Computer Viruses
  PC Security: Protecting Computers From Viruses
  PC Security: Worm Viruses
  PC Security: Trojan Horse Viruses
  PC Security: Rootkits
  PC Security: Removing a Virus
  PC Security: Virus Hoaxes
  PC Security: Server Viruses
  PC Security: Home Network
  PC Security: Cell Phone Viruses
  PC Security: Spyware
  PC Security: Firewalls Part 1
  PC Security: Firewalls Part 2
  PC Security: Parental Control Software
  PC Security: Malware - Spyware and Adware
  PC Security: Data Backups
  PC Security: Pop Up Windows
  PC Security: Safe Public Computer Use

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