The What, Who, Where and Why of #spam

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Spam was once just clutter in your inbox; now it is a frequently used carrier for fraud, electronic crime and even corporate and business espionage. The 4 Ws of spam respond to the most commonly asked questions about spam.

What is Spam?

Spam, also called junk email, is usually defined in the Internet industry as unsolicited commercial email (UCE). It is email that is sent out in bulk to a large number of recipients who did not ask for it. The subject matters of spam range from benign marketing to detrimental software applications that can realistically hijack your computer system do grave destruction.

The most common financial spam advertises pyramid schemes, pornographic web sites, mortgage loans, chain letters, credit repair, fraudulent pharmaceuticals and unlawfully pirated software. The more hazardous spam will often contain viruses that can infect your laptop computer, Trojan horses that can hijack your email computer program and use it to send out spam to your friends and family, and phishing scams that attempt to get your private and financial information.

Who Spams?

“Spammer” is the term used to refer to those responsible for spam. In the Spam community, there are a couple of types of spammers. There are the completely honest spammers who comply with the anti-spam laws, and have the consent of the spam recipients. These willing and eager recipients usually enroll with the honest spammer’s “opt-in” mailing list by signing up at a site, for example to enter a sweepstake, or to be notified of coming future promotions. There are the disreputable spammers, who will get your email addresses by any means feasible. They use their spam for unlawful or malicious purposes and have no regard for the law. Spammers range from the secluded, home-based individual to multi-million dollar enterprises with a lot of people. Most of the spam companies are significantly relocating to offshore localities to evade US laws and law enforcement.

Where do the Spammers Get your Email Address From?

Spammers get their victim’s email addresses from just about everywhere you can imagine. Primarily, they use Newsgroup harvesters and Spambots, which are automated computer programs designed to “harvest” (extract) email addresses from on-line sites.

The standard spambot can harvest over 30,000 email addresses in just one hour. And this goes on 24/7, year and year out. There are also organizations that sell CDs that are loaded with legitimate email addresses. All these can sell for as little as $25, and they are a goldmine for virtually any spammer.

Why do Spammers Spam?

In a word? Money. Spammers literally make millions from their felonious profession. Surveys demonstrate that for every million junk emails sent out, a spammer will average around 100 transactions. Add to this the reality that they make $50-$100 in commission for each transaction, and you can see how the numbers add up to incomes in excess of $100,000 a year! What’s more, spamming can cost next to nothing at all.

Why does spamming go on despite its cost in time, effort and money? If no one responded to spam, the spammer’s cash cow would starve and the business would stop. They make the cost of spamming worth the cost.

Spam, also called junk email, is normally defined in the Internet industry as unsolicited commercial email (UCE).”Spammer” is the term applied to refer to those liable for spam. In the Spam world, there are two types of spammers. Certainly, there are the sincere spammers who abide with the anti-spam mandates, and have the understanding of the spam people. If no one replied to spam, the spammer’s cash cow would starve and the practice would finish.

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2 Responses to “The What, Who, Where and Why of #spam”

  1. Spam happening under “legitimate” guises - Hotpink Websites Says:

    […] The What, Who, Where and Why of #spam […]

  2. Sophie Benjamin-Mitchell Says:

    Another Great Story about the spam plague.

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