Those Aren’t Really Friends Sending You E-mail

Have you recently been receiving messages from a number of new friends? If so, you are either a good person or a one of the millions of spam victims. Experts estimate that 90% of e-mail traffic is spam, and those spammers claiming to be your friend may not really have your best interests at heart.

Why Are We Receiving More Spam?

Spammers are not giving up; in fact, they are getting smarter.

One of the reasons that we are lately receiving more spam is that spammers are diligently working to get past our antispam filters by embedding their messages in graphic images. Antispam filters are effective at reading the content of incoming messages and detecting common telltale word patterns, image spam gets past the keyphrase filters because it does not include ASCII text, only a graphic image. Since last year, the amount of image spam has increased 400%, it now represents almost up to half of all unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) messages.

BotNets

Spammers also hide their identities and locations by using botnets, remotely-controlled personal computers that have been infected with a malware application and used to transmit the spam messages to their final, intended recipients. An article in Wikipedia states that spammers send 80% of UCE via botnet, sending transmitted 55 billion spam messages each day. While these numbers are unconfirmed, e-mail users generally agree that they get too many spam messages a day.

There Is No Legal Protection

U.S. e-mail users took heart in the federal Can-Spam Act of 2003, which requires UCE senders to properly identify their content and allow users to opt-out of future transmissions; however, much spam is coming from outside of the United States, and the spammers are not beholden to the U.S. law.

What Can We Do?

IronPort offers ten tips to help prevent and reduce the amount of spam that we receive.

  1. Don’t open messages from someone that we do not recognize.
  2. Don’t respond to spam messages.
  3. Don’t click on hyperlinks included in the spam message.
  4. Don’t buy from spammers—ever!
  5. Don’t use a primary e-mail address; create a secondary e-mail address when submitting an online registration.
  6. Don’t believe everything we read.
  7. Do use a temporary or one-time-use credit card.
  8. Do read security policies.
  9. Use an antispam filter, either through our ISP or a standalone application.
  10. Do use common sense.

Dave’s Opinion

I receive over 1,000 spam messages to one of my e-mail addresses, alone. If it were not for effective antispam filters, I would be afraid to open my inbox.

Call for Comments

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

References

IronPort Systems Offers the “Do’s and Don’ts” to Avoid Spam Deluge During Holiday Season
Wikipedia, Botnet
Wikipedia, E-mail Spam