Introduction Course
Introduction course
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Information Systems
Intermediate II
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Spam is the term used to define all of the unwanted e-mail that takes up space in a user's e-mail inbox.

This type of junk e-mail is sent to millions of users and is usually designed to sell things to as many people as possible. Most users will delete these e-mails and may even install software that will block this type of content. The type of software used to block unwanted e-mails is known as a spam filter and works by trapping suspect e-mails before they get near to a user's inbox. These e-mails can be automatically moved to a safe area where they can be examined later or even set up for automatic deletion.

One way to avoid some spam is to avoid giving any personal information away when you are using the Internet, for example, never post your e-mail address on a public forum.

Note: It is generally believed that 80% or more of all e-mails sent around the world is spam.

The people who carry out this activity are called spammers.

How Spammers Work

Spammers find out e-mail addresses using many tricks, such as guessing popular names and sending mail with images and hyperlinks. If you open either of these, the spammer immediately captures your address because the spam message is a link to their own website. Spammers will e-mail everyone and anyone and as a result spam arrives in most people's inboxes.

As spammers do not carry out any research, the spam you receive is usually for products and services that may be of no interest to you, similar to the junk mail that is sent through the post.
Spammers want people to answer the spam and to buy the products advertised. To do this the subject heading of the e-mail will be enticing, such as: instant weight loss, special medicine offers, free subscriptions, endless competitions, etc.

If you think any of the mail in your inbox is spam, delete it immediately without opening it. If you do open a spam e-mail by accident, delete it. Never open any files that are attached to spam as these will more often than not contain a virus.

See if know how to protect yourself against the spammers by clicking on this link.

Spam Filters

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer free spam-filtering services.
Spam-filtering takes place when e-mails that are suspected spam are filtered out of your inbox. These e-mails end up in another folder, usually called Bulk or Quarantine so that you can double check if the mail is junk before deleting it. Sometimes the suspect e-mails will have a symbol or text next to them to indicate that they may be spam, this will depend on who provides your e-mail account.

It is when you request to have your details removed from a mailing list that the spammer actually gets confirmation from you that your e-mail address is still active. This is another reason why you should never reply, no matter how tempting. It is almost impossible to stop getting spam once the spammers have your address. If you are experiencing a lot of spam, the best thing to do is to create a new e-mail account and be extremely selective when giving out this new address.

Mass E-Mails

Mass e-mails are spam and come in the disguise of chain letters, charity cases and lucky proverbs to name a few. These are also known as group and chain e-mails. They usually have so many addresses on them that you have to scroll down to see the message. This is caused by the fact that the message will encourage you to forward the e-mail to a specific and high number of people, sometimes threatening you with bad luck or promising to make donations to a charity each time the message is sent. This is an ideal way for spammers to get addresses as the e-mail starts to multiply over and over. Remember, if the e-mail has an attachment and you forward it to your friends, you could be infecting their computer with a virus if they open it.

You will notice an input box near the 'to' field when composing an e-mail, called 'Bcc'. This stands for 'Blind Carbon Copy'. When you enter more than one address into the 'to' field, you are creating a group e-mail. If you are sending a group e-mail, put only one addressee in the 'to' field and the rest of the addresses in the 'Bcc' section to keep them hidden from spammers.


Anti-Spam Software

Once your e-mail address is known by a spammer it is passed around and the number of spam e-mails escalates. It is important not to enter your e-mail address into web pages where you do not trust the owner of the site. Doing so allows your e-mail address to be sold on.

If you do start to receive spam there are several products available to remove it. Some, such as the McAfee and Symantec products, come as part of an Internet security suite with anti-virus and anti-spyware products. Others, like MailWasher and SpamCop, come as stand-alone products. MailWasher even has a free edition.

All the programs work in the same way. E-mail is scanned for recognised phrases or sender's address. Mail that is recognised as being spam is either deleted or sent to a different folder in your e-mail software to be checked. Your e-mail supplier or software may also have a built-in anti-spam feature.

Anti-spam software is usually adaptive. If spam e-mail comes in you can mark it as spam. If other, similar, e-mail is sent it can be automatically marked as spam. By using the power of the Internet, mail that is marked as spam is notified to the vendor's web site. If many people mark it as spam it can be added to the list of known spam and everyone who has the software will automatically reject the spam.

If you run this type of software you may initially lose some genuine mail. By adjusting the security settings to suit you and your family you will be able to receive wanted mail and stop the spam from getting in. Most anti-spam software allows you to specify a list of friends whose e-mails will always be accepted.

Other anti-spam programs include the following:

Nigerian Letter Scam

Spam has also been used for sending political or religious messages, distributing viruses and attempting fraud. One of the most famous spam messages is a type of advance-fee fraud, known as the Nigerian letter (the country where many of these letters originated - often written by deposed Princes and Kings, apparently).

Victims receive emails asking to provide details of a bank account where a large amount of money can be transferred to, in return for a percentage of the funds. Just before the transaction is due to take place, they are informed that they need to pay a few thousand dollars in administration charges. Anyone taken in by this scam would find that the administration charges vanish and the money never appears.


To Do:

  1. Click on the link here to see if you have what it takes to slam the spammer.
  2. In Glow Learn answer the multiple choice questions in the test called Spam.
  3. Click on the link here to view some samples of Nigerian letters.
  4. In your team, create your own Nigerian letter and send it to your teacher. You'll probably get rich. (This task works on the basis that to beat a fraudster you have to think like a fraudster).
  5. In Glow Learn answer the multiple choice questions in the test called Malicious software.

Continue to Hackers



Comman Anti Spam Programmes

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