SPAM (Small Pointless Annoying Messages, Sales promotional Advertising Message OR Simultaneously Posted Advertising Messages). As the name indicates SPAM are junk/unsolicited bulk messages send with a purpose of advertising needs. SPAM’s are send using the electronic messaging system. The SPAM email’s may contain links which can lead the recipient to a phishing website or clicking the links can send out the recipient personal details or may contain some executable scripts or attachments that have the ability to affect the recipients machine with a virus or malware.
The First SPAM email was sent on May 3, 1978 by the Digital Equipment Corporation. The content of the email was an advertisement regarding the sales of computers. The email contacts were acquired from the ARPAnet.
Usage of SPAM
SPAM messages are always annoying to any one who receives it in their inbox /spam folder of their email account. The SPAM messages are mainly used for advertisement purpose and some time some people do get useful information from these such as coupon codes, contact information etc. The main advantage of spamming is the cost reduction. It does not cost much to send bulk emails to different email contacts. The only information needed to do spamming is the email contacts. One click to a spam email send out to millions and possibly landing to purchase is considered to be profitable and the low cost of technology makes this possible.
Advantage of Spamming
1. Effectiveness of cost: It does not cost much for a company to market their products or develop their business through email marketing. They just need to pay for a company to send the mails of their products to certain email contacts particularly to those who have visited the company’s website. By sending the emails in this way helps to avoid the email spamming to certain extend.
2. Tracking: Tracking is one of the best advantage of spamming. If a company is sending the advertisement of their products via post then it will be difficult for them to track who all the received the post, who all read the post. Rather if it is send out via email system they will be able to track all the details such as who all received the email, who all opened the mail, who all visited the website from the links on the email.
3. Increase in Sales: By just a single click a company will be able to send the emails regarding the advertisement of their products to millions of people around the world. Many of the recipients would not have requested for such an email but if they are interested in products they will surely go ahead with the purchase. So it is a gain for the company since they are getting the business without any direct involvement.
4. Reductions in cost total cost spend: It reduces the cost invested for the business by cutting the people recruited for the marketing. It makes the company to pay only for the people who are recruited for other activates in the company. It also reduces human stress and saves a lot of time. Other advantage is that it speeds up the business to a greater extend.
Disadvantage of Spamming
1. It can affect the reputation of the company. If lot of people report the emails send by the particular company as spam the email providers will report it to the hosting provider and if it is proven then hosting providers have all the rights to suspend the company’s website.
2. Many of the recipients will consider these emails as spam even though they are interested in it because they have not asked for such an email. They doubt the reliability of such emails.
3. Most of such emails will land in recipients spam folder so that they will not notice these emails.
4. Sending such emails to same recipients periodically will make them agitated and to have bad impression about the company. They will start to doubt the quality of the product and will try to avoid in doing business with the company.
5. Spam emails fill up the mail inbox and also use much space on the computer depending on the email client you are using.
6. Spam emails can contain virus which can damage your local computer.
7. People who do not have much knowledge about spamming can end in money loss by accessing the links, contents or even making the purchase from these spam mails.
8. Accessing the spam mails can also leads to data loss such as personal information like email address, contact number, address, bank account details which can cause heavy troubles for the recipient.
Anti Spam Techniques
The end users that is the recipients can avoid spam emails in many ways. One thing that they can do is not to share email address to public. Sharing the email address only to know persons can limit the incoming of spam messages to their email account. One should always make sure that they are not publishing their personal email address in public forums so that their email address is not harvested by the spammer’s for the spamming purpose. Another method to avoid spamming is to use address munging where recipient can provide their email address in an invalid format so that it is not captured by any automated email harvesting program. For example a user with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org may represent their email address as email@example.com. In this way only humans will be able to trace the valid email address. Transparent address munging can also be used for the same purpose. In transparent address munging the whole email address is displayed but in text format. For example abc at example dot in. Of course the address munging can avoid the spamming to a great extend but it can also limit the legitimate emails for the user since the email addresses are represented in an invalid format. Another method to avoid spamming is to not to reply to the spam emails that are being received. Many of the spam mails will have the content which will force the recipient to reply to it. For example when an user receives a spam email it may a link to white list the recipients email address to avoid spamming in future or just need to replay the spam email with the content “Don’t spam me”. By replying to these spam emails or accessing the links in the spam email makes the email address available to spammer’s which they will make use to continue spamming in future. Many of such spam emails are send to many email address just by guessing the email address and many of them turns out to be a valid email address. Contact forms in many of the website have become a major source of spamming. Many spam prevention techniques has been evolved to avoid Image recognition CAPTCHA this. One of the most recommended way is to install a CAPTCHA software for the contact form. “CAPTCHA” as the name indicates Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It can determine whether is the form is been filled by a human or any automated program. It also reduces spamming to a great extend. There are many modern CAPTCHA like Image recognition CAPTCHA’s which are more reliable and effective. Many of the mail clients are developed with web browser functionalities which will display HTML, URL’s and images in the emails received. Now a days many of the spams are written in HTML codes which makes the spammers to confirm whether an email address is valid or not and they can also view whether it is getting delivered to inbox or spam folder. We can avoid this by disabling the automatic download option of images and displaying HTML codes in the mail client like Outlook. Using disposable email address or temporary email address can also reduce spamming. Reporting of spam mails can help to trace the spammers network and can terminate their services. Many online tools like spamcop, Network Abuse Clearinghouse, Complainterator etc has been introduced for the same purpose. Complainterator is a free tool which will send a complaint automatically to the registrar of a domain and registrar of name servers for this domain if this domain is found to used for spamming purpose. It would be better to contact the registrar’s of the domain rather than contact the ISP to terminate the services of the domain used for spamming purpose because spammers always have the option to change the network any time they want. These are more ways to avoid spamming but these are the basic steps that can be done from users side to avoid spamming.