What is spam?

In short, spam is an unwanted mass-sent advertising email message. Spam messages are now sent by millions of people, small companies and large corporations using the addresses gathered by spammers from Usenet, web pages and from all over the Internet. Most spam messages advertise such products as Viagra, penny stocks, dietary supplements and many more annoying topics.

The dangers

Spam is inherently related to the following dangers and security threats:

*fake offers - 99 percent of spam advertisements do not concern real products. A golden rule to follow when it comes to ordering a product you learned about in a spam email is that once you pay them, you can be sure that you won't receive anything in return (or, if you're very lucky, you'll receive an empty box);

*financial losses - if you decide to buy penny stocks advertised by spam messages, the chances are that you'll only help spammers make their money. They buy penny stocks, and then start a spamvertising campaign to raise the stock prices and then finally sell their stocks for a large profit, leaving both you and often the real company owners with nothing;

*spyware/adware infections - links provided by spam emails often lead to special websites capable of secretly injecting unwanted adware/spyware programs into your computer;

*phishing scams - spam is also a favorite method of spreading phishing scam messages.

The numbers

Ten years ago, the number of unsolicited emails was relatively low (though, even then, spam reached millions of people). In 2006, the volume of spam exploded, and now reaches a disturbing 55 billion spam messages per day! According to recent surveys, nowadays at least 60 percent (and probably as much as 85 percent) of all mails sent every day are spam or spam-like messages. Unfortunately, there are no indications that this number is going to drop anytime soon.


Spamming is an international crime and, oftentimes, the spammer, spamming computer and the target country are all on three different continents. This makes spamming extremely difficult to prosecute even though in places like the USA, Canada, the European Union and Australia, all spammers risk police investigations and eventually prosecution if caught red handed.

Spam defense

While there are dozens of things you can do to fight spam, there is only one real solution: use a spam filter such as Spam Sleuth or Spam Bully. Using several filtering methods, spam filters are generally able to weed off around 90 percent of unwanted mail while producing only a few false positives.

And if you receive some spam email from time to time, just don't follow any instructions inside. You'll be much safer just deleting it immediately, instead.

If you are stuck with a public, web-based email account like Yahoo or Hotmail, you know all about spam and how much it can clog up your account. A recent poll showed that Hotmail accounts that had been around for 5 years or more received upwards of 50 spam emails per day. Accounts on AOL and other popular programs can be even worse.

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