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What is spam?

By Jakob Jelling

The theoretical meaning of the spamming is to illegally sending unsolicited, unwanted, and irrelevant or in some cases (inappropriate) mails for deliberate commercial advertising. Spam mails are also known as junk mails or unsolicited commercial emails (UCEs). Everyday, millions of people receive these annoying spam messages in their account. It should be noted here that mails sent on a personal basis are not counted as spam. Spam is sent between a newsgroup or a mailing list of a product or a website.

The word ‘spam’ was given by the computer group laboratory of the University of South California. Many even believe that it is derived from Monty Python’s song which says ‘Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam.’ if you have noticed, the above poem unnecessarily repeats the words. Thus we have the basic character of spam – unnecessary repetitions of text or links. The other characteristics of spam are that it is something which is not asked for. Next, no one ever pays attention to it & directly deletes it. Very rarely, that is only 1% of the total worldwide spam actually contains useful information.

The source from where a spammer gets the email address of a person is unknown. A survey made by Center for Democracy and Technology came out with results regarding source of the mailing list, procedure of spamming & techniques of anti spamming. It was proved that in maximum cases, the email addresses which are posted on public websites. Spammers recorded these addresses either manually or with the help of spiders or specialized softwares & added the same to their mailing lists along with other information provided (like interests, home page address, etc.). Also, email addresses are recorded from newsgroup channels since they show the information quite visibly. Softwares are used to attack the email servers or large databases so as to retrieve the email addresses. The traditional way, though, is to send spam messages to various possible combinations of names. This way is also called ‘Brute attack’ or ‘Dictionary attack’.

Individuals as well as organizations have stepped forward against spam. Though it is not possible to eliminate spam totally, ways have been sorted out to secure the email addresses from falling in wrong hands. Some email providers have put on tough securities against spam & have left the option of receiving spam (or junk) totally to the customization of the user. Many policies have been set up for & against spammers.

There are also some other ways of ‘reducing’ spam like using filters or using multiple addresses i.e. whenever you are filling any form on an unfamiliar website, do not use your personal email address. You can even create a disposable email address. Also, read the forms very carefully before reading them. If you are publishing your email address on any public website, try to put it in a human readable way (i.e. instead of putting abc@google.com, you can put ‘abc at google dot com’. Or you can put it in the form of html code. All these tips are certainly helpful for reducing spam because till date, no one can claim to ‘eliminate’ spam.

About the author
Jakob Jelling is the founder of http://www.sitetube.com. Visit his website for the latest on planning, building, promoting and maintaining websites.

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