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This chapter is from the book

The Damage Spam Can Do

Spam might be free to send, but it is very costly to its recipients and the Internet community in the following ways:

  • It costs you money—Spam costs millions of dollars a year in Internet resources. It clogs Internet plumbing, forcing ISPs to buy bigger electronic pipes to carry all the information on the Internet. This drives up the cost of operations, which is passed on to you, the ISP's customer.
  • Wasted productivity—If you're a business owner, spam wastes workers' time and productivity and increases expenses because it consumes helpdesk and IT resources to deal with it.
  • It wastes your time—Spam wastes your time. Wading through spam to find the legitimate email takes time, especially if you get a lot of spam. If it takes you one second to delete a spam email and you get 900 spam emails each day (for a time I was getting more than 1,000), that wastes 15 minutes of your time.
  • It disconnects you—If the flow of spam becomes too great, you have to abandon your email address in favor of a new one. This disconnects you from people who lose track of you because they don't update their email address lists.
  • It's annoying and offensive—Spam is advertising you're not interested in, and that's just plain annoying. And often it comes with content that's offensive or at the very least distasteful.
  • It endangers children—It exposes children to topics and images that they shouldn't have to worry about, including adult content.
  • It's a malware carrier—Some spam carries email attachments that if opened can infect your computer with viruses or spyware. (Learn more about spyware in Chapter 2, "Spyware: Overrun by Advertisers, Hijackers, and Opportunists.")
  • It distributes scams—Spam can also be used to mass-mail 419 scams or phishing emails. (Learn more about these scams in Chapter 5, "Identity Thieves and Phishers: Protect Your Good Name and Bank Account.")
  • It can get you kicked off the Net—Some viruses can infect your computer so it turns into a spam-sending machine. And if your computer is identified as a source of spam, your Internet service provider may terminate your Internet account. Spammers use viruses to hijack other people's computers into sending spam because they create a massive network of spam-sending machines without worrying about having their own computers being identified as a spam sender. The spam also comes from thousands of computers and not just one, making it harder to stop.
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