Most of us get SPAM every day. Some of us get more and some little. Even a newly created email account will begin to receive spam just after a few days of its creation. Many times we wonder where these spam come from and why? But, this question remains unanswered within ourselves.
So, in this post I will try my best to give you every possible information about the spam and also the ways to keep your email account protected.
What is Spam?
Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. Most widely recognized form of spam is an email spam.
Where do these Spam come from?
These spam come only from spammers and never from a legitimate user or a company. These spammers send a single email to hundreds (some times thousands or millions) of email addresses at a time. They either send it manually or use spambots to automate the process of spamming.
Why do Spammers Spam?
The main goal of spammers is to send the spam (unsolicited bulk messages) to as many people as possible in order to make profit.
For example, John builds a small website to sell an ebook which gives information about weight loss. In order to make sales, he needs publicity for his website. Instead of spending money on advertising, John decides to create an email which contains information about his site along with its link and send this email to say 100 email addresses in his contact list. If 1 person out of hundred buy this book john gets $10. What if he sends this email to 1000s of email addresses? He gets $100. Imagine, if he sends this email to 1 Million email addresses he gets $100000!
Now I hope you understood the idea behind spamming. So, in order to make money, spammers send their advertising emails to as many people as possible without respecting the recipient’s privacy.
From where do Spammers get your email address?
On the Internet, there exists many websites who collect the email IDs of people and sell them to spammers in bulk. Most often, people sign up for monthly newsletters and take up surveys. This is the time where these scam sites get their email addresses. Also, many spammers collect email addresses by using spambots. These spambots collect email addresses from the Internet in order to build mailing lists. Such spambots are web crawlers that can gather email addresses from websites, newsgroups, forums, special-interest group (SIG) postings and chat-room conversations.
Spammers also use the trick of creating Hoax Emails for gathering a huge list of email IDs. For example, a spammer sends a hoax email which says “Forward this Message to Help Severely Burned Child”. This email claims that 11 cents will be donated to the child’s family every time the message is forwarded to another person. Most of the people believe this to be true and start forwarding this hoax email to all of the IDs in their contact list. In this way, the email spreads rapidly and eventually when it reaches the creator (spammer), the spammer gets a huge list of valid email addresses in the email header.
When you get these kind of hoax emails, you can see for yourself in the email header which contains a huge list of email addresses of all those people to whom the email is being forwarded to. This is one of the effective methods used by spammers to gather email addresses.
Is Spamming legal?
Spamming is completely illegal. Yet, it is really difficult to stop spammers from spamming as they keep moving from one hosting company to another after getting banned. This makes it practically impossible to catch spammers and prosecute them.
How to protect your email account from getting Spammed?
The following methods can be used to combat email spam:
Use spam filters for your email account. If you’re using email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. then spam filters are used by defaut. Each spam filter has its algorithm to detect spam emails and will automatically move them to the SPAM folder. This keeps your inbox free from spam. However, some spam emails become successful to make their way into the inbox by successfully bypassing the filters.
Do not post your email address in public forums, user comments and chat-rooms. Give your email address only to trustworthy websites while signing up for newsletters.
While taking up online surveys or filling up feedback forms, it is better not to give your personal email address. Instead sing-up for a dummy email account and use this for surveys and feedback forms.
While posting your contact email address on your website, use this format: emailaddress [at] yoursite.com instead of
[email protected]. This protects your email address from being indexed by spambots.
Do not respond to hoax messages. When you receive a hoax email, avoid forwarding it to your friends. Examples of hoax messages can be found at www.hoax-slayer.com. If you really want to forward it to your friends, make sure that you use “Bcc” (blind carbon copy) option to send the email. This will hide all the email IDs to which the mail is forwarded to. For more information on this topic, you read my other post on benefits of using Bcc while sending an email.
I hope the information presented in this post will help protect your email accounts from spam. Pass your suggestions and feedback via comments.