Email Spam - Email Spam Protection
Email Spam is defined as the sending unsolicited bulk emailing to thousands of recipients, often with identical or near identical content. It is illegal in most countries and by definition occurs without the permission or consent of the recipient.
The spam industry is a constantly evolving arms race. As spam detectors and spam filters become more and more powerful, the spammers become more and more wily, resorting to increasingly deceptive techniques to harvest emails and push their products. When anti-spam vendors started to use heuristics to detect spam (a way of describing the nature of a spam email, rather than the actual spam email itself), the spammers started to copy random passages of books into the emails so that the percentage of common 'spammy' text was decreased. When that failed, the spammers sent their emails as graphics or pictures so that email text readers used by the anti-spam industry were defeated.
So how do you get on a spammers list?
Usually in one of the three ways;
1. Viruses - You have a virus on your machine that collects your email address along with everyone else's in your inbox. Or someone else that you have sent an email to has the virus and your email address gets collected, and the email list gets transmitted back to the spammer.
2. You give it to them - Huh? Yup - A very common way is by the user, the users friend or family member filling in a giveaway, prize, draw, or other offer with their email particulars and not realizing that it wasn't a legitimate website, there is no legitimate prize, and its purpose was simply designed to make people hand over their and their friends email addresses.
3. Your email address gets harvested - Spammers internet 'robots' are hard at work scraping email addresses from every web page and database they can find. Your email address can be found in many ways;
What can we do to protect ourselves from email spam?
Protection at a Personal level
Don't click on the emails. Don't even open the emails! And certainly NEVER buy anything from spam emails. Invest in a good virus checker and remover and always keep it updated.
Protection at a Corporate level
Employee education is paramount. Employees must be made aware that filling in information from company computers on dodgy websites must be avoided. All suspicious email should NOT be opened, and any such instances should be directed to the corporate IT department or security.
The other obvious way is to protect the employees from themselves. This means up to date Firewalls, Virus Scanners and Removers, strong Security Policies, and good Malware (adware, spyware, etc) Removal Utilities, also trap as much spam email as possible at the mail server, before it reaches the employee.
Protection at a Government or State level
Strong laws are required that make the penalties for spamming harsh. In 2003 the Ban on Deceptive Unsolicited Bulk Electronic Mail Act of 2003 was passed that allowed the prosecution of spammers (bulk emailers) to be tried under RICO legislation. RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws were created in the US in 1970 to take down the Mob (Mafia). They allow the confiscation of all illegally derived assets from an individual or organization including houses, boats, cars, planes, currency and any other monetary instruments. So the US takes spamming very seriously indeed! The drawback of this is that the internet knows no boundaries, and spammers can exist as readily outside the USA as inside its borders.