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How Spam Works

Spam involves sending unsolicited e-mail to many people, and is a very common practice today. It is not unusual for the average person to have 30% of his or her e-mail as spam, and there is a huge demand for new techniques to block spam including the existing methods, such as spam blockers, spam filters and the creation of e-mail whitelists. The most unfortunate aspect of how spam works is that it is quite simple. A spammer needs only collect a large number of web addresses and an unwanted advertisement can be sent to hundreds of people. Many spammers use software to make their spamming easier. There are many different kinds of spam and people who are responsible for this annoyance.

E-mail spam involves simply sending out an ad to hundreds of recipients. Many people have spam blockers in place, which bounce the unsolicited e-mail back tot he sender, or filters which place the suspicious e-mail in a bulk folder until the recipient has time to decide to accept or reject it. In addition to e-mail spam, which is the most common form of spam, there are also forms of spam that appear on Instant Messenger accounts, newsgroups, blogs and mobile phones. Spammers are quite happy that there is no operating costs involved in their schemes and that the barrier to their entry is quite low, even given the newest filtering and blocking systems. Even though these programs might be effective in weeding out spam, spammers are becoming more sophisticated and re-wording suspicious looking headings and subject lines.

In a word, spamming is as easy as sending an e-mail, except that one has to manage exceptionally large e-mail lists. Since spamming is discouraged and against the law in some places, many spammers are desperate to avoid detection. They launch their spam campaigns from other computers or “zombie” computers which send the spam for them. Once they bypass security devices and are able to obtain sensitive information about a PC, they can use the PC for sending unsolicited bulk mail. Another possibility is to get a hold of addresses and to get them to send spam. The result of this is that a spammer might be unaware that he or she is spamming, since another computer is controlling his or her PC. The unwitting spammer might be placed on blacklists, could lose internet service and denied access to certain chat groups. This is very serious in addition to the fact that spammer face stiff fines and even the possibility of incarceration. Spammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in avoiding filters and blockers. The heading of an e-mail may say simply “Hey” or lack a heading altogether.

Spam filters are not vigilant about such subject lines and allow many of them through. Since spam filters are concerned with blocking e-mails with certain words, some spammers intentionally misspell words to bypass these restrictions. Spam is, unfortunately, all too easy, but more e-mail users who do not want spam are setting up whitelists that allow only certain people to e-mail them. It is impossible for spamsters to penetrate these walls, but the added protection may spell a lack of spontaneity for the consumer.


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