Understanding Spam

Understanding Spam

Anyone who has an email address needs no introduction to this pesky phenomenon of electronic communication. Spam is unwanted, unsolicited commercial email that is mailed in bulk to thousands, even millions of recipients simultaneously.

Much of the confusion regarding spam comes from a lack of understanding the everyday email user may have regarding the ways and motivations of the spammers.

Whether a given email is spam or not spam can be said to be in the eye of the beholder. There are legitimate email marketers out there, who comply with all applicable laws when they do their bulk emailing. They will, for example, only send their advertising to recipients who have subscribed to their emailing list. In fact, in formal studies have shown that currently, only about half of all spam is deceptive or fraudulent; roughly half of all spam contains genuine marketing messages. Thanks to spammers, all email marketing is tainted with a bad name.

The nature of spam has less to do with its commercial content than with the fact that it is unsolicited and sent out in bulk. There are two categories of spam: unsolicited bulk email and unsolicited commercial email.

Unsolicited bulk email is mass-mailed to recipients who have not given their consent to receive it. This category of spam encompasses jokes, chain letters, virus alerts, etc. unsolicited commercial email targets your wallet. This subset of spam includes get-rich- quick and pyramid schemes, stock offerings for pennystocks, spamming software and fake pharmaceuticals.

While most spam is generally mailed out to advertise a product or service, some is malicious in content and intent. It runs the gamut from jokes and ads, to stock-market scams and virus-laden emails. Spammers, those obnoxious folks who send you spam, will target you because:

– They want you to buy something

– They defraud you out of your hard-earned money

– They want to confirm that your email address is a real live one (and then add you to a spam mailing list)

– They just want to shock and offend

The huge volume of spam has created big problems. While it is free for the spammer to send out his millions of spam emails, the cost of the bandwidth that this junk mail takes up borne by the internet service provider (ISP). The ISP, not one to bear this expensive burden on its own, will pass on some of the cost to you in the form of price increases.
You also pay the price for spam in the time wasted sorting through and deleting junk mail, the loss in productivity and the pure aggravation of having to deal with it. It also raises security issues because it may contain viruses that are harmful to your computer.

How do you spot spam when it lands in your inbox?

Here are a few things you can look for that are a dead give-away

– Email from someone you do not know
– Nonsensical subject lines
– Outlandish promises of money, exotic cruises and lonely housewives
– Adult or pornographic content
– Unsubscribe links in unsolicited email
– Very brief emails – a line or two

You should be aware that spammers often send you email that is designed to look like it came from an acquaintance of yours, a reputable company or a reply to an email from you.

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