SPAM : Don't let this modern day scourge ruin your life

We’ve all seen it before, another email advertising anything from free garden gnomes to spectacular cravats, not only is it a cause of constant irritation and frustration but it is also quite embarrassing when a work colleague comes over to your desk to discuss the Stanmore account only to discover Viagra related emails on your screen!

Spam has very much become part of life in our modern society, but do we really know that much about it? And the dangers it hides?

What is Spam anyway? Technically spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, undesired bulk messages.

The most common form is email spam, but it can also apply to any messaging conduit, such as; instant messaging, newsgroups, web search engines, blogs, and mobile phone messaging.

Email spam involves sending unsolicited commercial messages to many recipients; generally this is without the explicit permissions of the recipient.

Why on earth do people spam? Unfortunately it is an easy and economically viable form of mass advertising as it has no operating costs beyond the management of the mailing list and it has virtually no liability as it is difficult to hold individual senders accountable.

It is common practise for spammers to go to great lengths to try and conceal the origin of their messages, this helps to limit their chances of being caught.

One popular form of this is called “spoofing”; basically the spammer will modify the email message so it appears that it is coming from a different email address.

But how do they do it? Black Magic you say? I’m afraid not, there are actually many methods that spammers use to obtain email addresses in order to create the mailing lists they use, generally they will harvest addresses from a variety of sources; DNS listings, Web pages, forum postings, etc.

There is also what’s called the “dictionary attack”, whereby they simply guess common names at known domains (organisations), as well as “e-pending” which is searching for email addresses that link to specific people.

Many of these methods can be automated by applications called “web spiders” to speed up and simplify the entire process.

Where is this hidden danger you speak of? Spam is not only annoying and troublesome, quite commonly Spam will also include viruses that can infect and then seriously impact on a computers performance, whilst also spreading to other computers on the network, often the virus will do this by sending itself to everyone in your own contacts list without your knowledge.

Similar to this are the email viruses that turn an unprotected PC into a “zombie computer”, this means that the PC will be controlled from an external source to send out low volumes of Spam, helping the spammers to avoid being tracked and caught.

The implications of this as a business are severe, not only being seen as a possible spammer yourselves, but it can also lead to email blacklisting on the internet, prohibiting your emails from being transmitted, not to mention the legal ramifications.

This is all quite depressing, but fear not! Salvation is at hand, there is a massive range of anti-spam services/applications available on the market today, each one specialising in the filtration and blockage of spam and virus emails.

With the addition of one of these applications or services you can easily and effectively protect your systems from any unwanted spam emails with a minimum of hassle.