Spam blights e-mail 15 years on

Spam continues to blight e-mail exactly 15 years after the term was first coined and almost 30 years since the first spam message was sent.

The term is thought to have been coined by Joel Furr, an administrator on the net discussion system Usenet, to refer to unsolicited bulk messages. More than 90% of all e-mail is spam, according to anti-spam body Spamhaus.

"Spam is a real life arms race," said Mark Sunner, chief analyst at online security firm Message Labs. Billions of spam e-mails are sent each day, blocking mail servers, slowing down networks, infecting people's computers with viruses, helping hijack machines and generally making the internet a painful experience for many.

Mr Furr told BBC News that the anniversary of his first use of the term was no cause for celebration.

News Source: BBC News

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15 Comments

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Spam hasn't been a (visible) problem for me since I switched to gmail. Their spam blocker kicks serious ass. I constantly have about 1500 spam emails in the spam folder but very seldom does any spam reach my inbox.

New media equalisation strategy of our times? I got lots of spam once, myself, with a main email address and just closed it down (years ago). People who have to use it for work are less lucky and have to have whole servers dedicated to this just one issue alone - which would otherwise be doing other things.

Wise up, netizens! Spam is not called for.

There was something about email ID that MS was working on, i think it didnt get accepted because of proprietary stuff. Well, atleast it could have been put on trial to see if its really useful. Well, im going back to help the nigerian prince to transfer his money until a proper solution is found.

i think there is something much larger and more malicious going on with spam. Otherwise why waste time with SO many emails rather than targeting them towards certain kinds of people. If they put this much effort into mass solicitation, I'm sure they could put effort into studying which kind of people click the links and target them. Wish they would!

So... Does this mean I didn't win the South African Coca Cola lotto and I wasn't supposed to e-mail them all my bank/credit card details so they could transfer my winnings of $100,000,000.000??? lol

You know, the number one way to curb spam is to educate users about spyware and other malicious programs (Botnets) and really get good protection installed (instead of your average user just having an expired copy of Norton 2002).

Or just swat them with a newspaper and tell them they're bad if they get caught clicking links or buying crap from spam e-mail. The average person is too dumb to effectively drive a car, let alone handle e-mail.

Next time you go to a bar and watch all the guys there acting like idiots in an effort to attract women, think of how many of those jackasses placed orders for "herbal v1agra" from spam. If it weren't profitable, the spammers wouldn't bother doing it.

If it weren't profitable, the spammers wouldn't bother doing it.

I think that is becoming less true as spam now is often less about selling a product and more about trying to defraud you in some way. Obviously it is still profit driven, but not in the traditional way.

Ah of course, forgot about that. Your right. I wonder if they have any chance of over coming spam in that regard from even getting to that point. Not receiving likely screws up normal mail. Need to go to the sources like they said in the article like China.

I get no spam in my Hotmail account but get loads in my Yahoo and Gmail ones. Microsoft have done well and it's not even deleting before the junk gets there.

(OceanMotion said @ #1)
I get no spam in my Hotmail account but get loads in my Yahoo and Gmail ones. Microsoft have done well and it's not even deleting before the junk gets there.
It's not about how many reach your inbox at all. It is about how many are cluttering and consuming bandwidth. It is nice that you have good filtering to your inbox, but the truth is that for every email you get, there were 9 others that were junk and consuming bandwidth (according to the numbers presented in the BBC article linked).

markjensen has it right. I run a tiny mail server for our office that consists of 6 people. Just looking at one days worth of activity we got 8,578 connections. 6,930 of those where rejected by spamhouse as spammers another 325 rejected due to subject line filtering on our side, another 733 rejected due to ip blocking on our side. That left 590 messages that got through, bayesian filtering showed that only 94 of those 590 where valid messages to users.

94...out of 8,578 possible in a 24 hour period. We're tiny, can you imagine what the big boys are getting?