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Spam: Unwanted Email from Hell

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Andy Walker explains why you get all those emails about cheap Viagra, amazing fat-fighting plant extracts, and attractive pillow-fighting college students. He'll tell you what spam is, where it comes from, and what to do about it.
This chapter is from the book

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • What Is Spam?
  • Why Does Spam Keep Coming?
  • Specialty Spam
  • Why Doesn't Someone Stop the Spammers?
  • How Do Spammers Get My Email Address?
  • The Damage Spam Can Do
  • Reduce the Flow—10-minute Tactics to Reduce Spam
  • Kill More Spam—In an Afternoon
  • The Absolute Minimum

This chapter explains why you get all those emails about cheap Viagra, amazing fat-fighting plant extracts, and attractive pillow-fighting college students. Yes, it's a chapter about spam—the email kind, not the canned meat kind. In these pages I'll tell you what it is, where it comes from, and what to do about it. It's the amazing, natural, and safe chapter about fighting spam! No dangerous stimulants or damaging side effects!

What Is Spam?

Despite its namesake, spam is not a favorite Hawaiian breakfast ingredient, a pig byproduct, or my dad's favorite lunch meat. That's SPAM, the compressed ham in a can made by the Hormel Foods Corporation.

No, spam is something completely different. And it's so important that it merits its own chapter in a computer security book. Lowercase spam is unsolicited commercial email or electronic junk mail.

It's those emails you receive in your inbox from people you don't know that advertise everything from religious T-shirts (see Figure 6.1) to adult websites (see Figure 6.2). Sometimes these ads are offensive. Other times they're stupid. Usually they are just plain annoying, especially because they arrive in huge volume and rarely do they advertise anything you need. Don't you think spam would be less annoying if it offered to sell you a freshly baked pecan pie or a tasty piece of haddock? Spam never advertises anything good.

Figure 6.1

Figure 6.1 The site this spam links to offers a free "Wherever I go God is with me" T-shirt. It's odd, however, that the spammer has put 666 in the URL. Not a great marketing tactic when it comes to Christians.

Figure 6.2

Figure 6.2 This spam email features Alyssa, who has dark brown hair (isn't that blonde hair in the picture?) and black eyes (a little odd, too). Don't think she's interested in meeting you. The email clicks through to an adult website.

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