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Negative Affects of Spamming

Essay by   •  October 4, 2010  •  Essay  •  3,023 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,763 Views

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Overview

One of the strengths of electronic communications media is that it costs virtually nothing to send a message. These media are not free of charge: setting up a cellular telephone network or an Internet e-mail service has substantial overhead costs in equipment and connectivity. However, once these costs are paid for, the cost to transmit a message to a single recipient is minuscule when compared with older media such as postal mail. Electronic messaging is cheap and fast. It is also easy to automate: computer programs can send out millions of messages via e-mail, instant message (IM), or Usenet netnews in minutes or hours at nearly no labor cost.

From these economic realities, a sort of tragedy of the commons emerges. Any communications mechanism which is cheap and easy to automate is easy to flood with bulk messages. To send instant messages to millions of users on most IM services, all one needs is a piece of scriptable software and those users' IM usernames. The ability to send e-mail from a computer program is built in to popular operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Unix -- the only added ingredient needed is the list of addresses to target.

Sending bulk messages in this fashion, to recipients who have not solicited them, has come to be known as spamming, and the messages themselves as spam. The etymology of the term is discussed below.

Spamming has been considered by various commercial, government, and independent entities to be one of the foremost social problems facing electronic media today. All manner of attempts have been made to curb this problem: technical measures such as e-mail filtering and the automated cancellation of netnews spam; contractual measures such as Internet Service Providers' acceptable-use policies; laws such as the Can Spam Act of 2003; and market pressures such as boycotts of those who use or support spam.

The costs of spam

Spam's direct effects include the consumption of computer and network resources, and the cost in human time and attention of dismissing unwanted messages. In addition, spam has costs stemming from the kinds of spam messages sent, from the ways spammers send them, and from the arms race between spammers and those who try to stop or control spam.

In part because of the bad reputation (and dubious legal status) which spamming carries, it is chiefly used to carry offers of an ill-reputed or questionably legal nature. Many of the products advertised in spam are fraudulent in nature, such as quack medications and get-rich-quick schemes. Spam is frequently used to advertise scams, such as the well-known advance fee fraud and password phishing. It is also often used to advertise pornography indiscriminately, even in jurisdictions where it is illegal to transmit pornographic solicitations to minor children.

The methods of spammers are likewise costly -- to ISPs and the rest of the network, not to the spammers themselves. Because spamming contravenes ISP acceptable-use policies, spammers have for many years gone to some trouble to conceal the origins of their spam. E-mail, Usenet, and instant-message spam are often sent through insecure proxy servers belonging to unwilling third parties. Spammers frequently use false names, addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information to set up "disposable" accounts at various Internet service providers. In some cases, they have used falsified or stolen credit card numbers to pay for these accounts. This allows them to quickly move from one account to the next as each one is discovered and shut down by the host ISPs.

Finally, the costs of spam must include the collateral costs of the struggle between spammers and the administrators and users of the media threatened by spamming. [1]

Spamming in different media

E-mail spam

E-mail spam is by far the most common form of spamming on the internet. It involves sending identical or nearly identical messages to thousands (or millions) of recipients. Unlike legitimate commercial email, spam is sent without the permission of the recipients, and frequently contains various tricks to bypass email filters.

Spammers obtain email addresses by a number of means: harvesting addresses from Usenet postings, DNS listings, or Web pages; guessing common names at known domains (known as a dictionary attack); and "e-pending" or searching for email addresses corresponding to specific persons, such as residents in an area.

E-mail spammers go to great lengths to conceal the origin of their messages. They do this by spoofing email addresses (similar to Internet protocol spoofing). The spammer modifies the email message so it looks like it is coming from another email address.

Messaging spam

Messaging spam is a type of spamming where the target of the spamming is instant messaging (IM). Many IM systems offer a directory of users, including demographic information such as age and sex. Advertisers can gather this information, sign on to the system, and send unsolicited messages.

A similar sort of spam can be sent with the "NET SEND" command in Microsoft Windows, a function intended for remotely alerting a system administrator. This causes a pop-up window to appear on the targeted system's screen. This kind of spam is very easy to switch off, just follow these steps

Click on the Start button

Click on "Run ..."

Type Services.msc

Locate Messenger in the Name comomn

Right click on it and click on "Stop"

Double click on it

Change Startup type to "disable"

Click on OK

Newsgroup spam

Newsgroup spam is a type of spamming where the target of the spamming are Usenet newsgroups. Spamming of Usenet newsgroups actually pre-dates email spam. Old Usenet convention defines spamming as excessive multiple posting, that is, the repeated posting of a message (or substantially similar messages). Since posting to newsgroups is nearly as easy as sending e-mails, newsgroups are a popular target of spammers.

Spamdexing (search engine spam)

Spamdexing (a combination of spamming and indexing) refers to the practice on the World

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