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History of spam





LittleBlackKitten
What is spam?

The first thing one thinks of, generally speaking, when told "I got spam today", is probably that rounded metal tin containing random animal parts labeled as "food". On the internet however, the spam we're talking about is a message or email that you weren't expecting, didn't ask for, and has nothing to do with anything you're interested in. Today, common spam messages are about the latest male elongation pill, or the dreaded chain letter forward; those "you must send this on to 30 people, or you're going to die tonight!" messages that most people either delete, or send on just-in-case. Spam is generally hated and the bane of many internet users, no matter where it's found. Email spam is just one kind of spam; it can be found on chatlines, in forums, through internet advertisements, pop-up ads, and can even occupy entire websites. Spam can't truly be avoided, but contact with it can be limited with the right software.


When was the first spam message?


The first spam ever was sent on May First, 1978, and was sent out by a DEC marketing representative. Inside the ARPANET email was an invitation for every user using ARPANET on the US west coast to come and view a product presentation of the latest computer system of the time, the Decsystem-20 family in Los Angeles on May Ninth, 1978, or in San Mateo on May Eleventh, 1978. This unexpected email was labeled as the first email spam message ever sent, after spam became more prevalent. If course, it wasn't called spam back then, as it wasn't very common. Internet, or as they called it, APRANET, wasn't the same as it is now, and was solely used for communications between peoples instead of by letter, or phone.

How did Spam evolve into what it is today?

At first, spam was just an email message sent by a user to a list of other users to advertise something which they wanted everyone to know about, but that those sent to wasn't expecting - it was basically an unsolicited advertisement message sent to a mass amount of people. After a time, spam became a little more than that - some spam messages became more malicious, and sent people viruses. It then began to infiltrate people's computers with information-stealing cookies, and cookies that watched everything the user did on their computer. This started because those with bad or criminal intentions caught on to the prospect of innocent users checking their spam messages, and used it as a tool. Soon, most spam messages contained something malicious, and few were genuinely an honest message. Now, it's rare to find any spam message that is honestly a broad unsolicited email message which is advertising something real. It's begun to take over people's email accounts, user accounts on various websites, stealing people's passwords, and uploading aggressive viruses onto people's hard drives, and it's getting harder and harder to block the malicious spam. Even the most expensive programs and filters fail sometimes. It's now almost a battle to own a computer or internet account of any time without having it compromised or stolen in some way, shape, or form.

So, what do we do about Spam? How do we stay safe?

There is a plethora of filters and programs which offer spam email protection, for both prevention and treatment of malicious email, but they also tend to target perfectly innocent emails, and thus is a trade-off; while a good percentage of malicious email messages are intercepted, and the effects of those that slip through are caught and prevented, but there's some that slip through all that, and it also tends to block requested emails such as mailing lists, password resets, and those related to a forum, such as the "You have a new PM!" or "There's a reply for you!" Such programs can't differentiate the difference unless the address in question is in your address book, and even then, it can sometimes send it to your spam folder. Those who send malicious emails are getting smarter and smarter, figuring out ways to slip through the programs and filters. But, if your email address allows you to make your own filters, such as those with a gmail account, I suggest the following to prevent the spam emails from getting through:

1. Block emails with common words that are inside spam, but that your contacts will never usually use, such as "penis", "pill/s" or "weight loss".
2. Block emails with the extension ".info" and "*.info" - these addresses are almost always malicious, and it's far safer to not visit them at all.
3. Do not open email messages from anyone you don't recognize.
4. Do not open email messages from people you do know if it looks suspicious, or like it's not anything they would be sending you.
5. If the email contains a link you did not ask for, or was spoken about previously, such as a link to familiar sites such as facebook, google, or lolcats, do not open it. Politely declining the link won't usually offend people, and spammers won't respond back.
[b]6. Have a separate email account for websites that require you to use an email to use it's features. This keeps the messages that are most likely to be spam in one account which you can leave to be there in case one of those sites sends you content you need to be aware of, and the spam emails all end up in an account that isn't your main account.

These steps will lead to a safer computer, less spam, and a happier you.


Sources:
http://thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/first96.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET
http://www.securelist.com/en/threats/spam?chapter=95
admin
This is an entry in the essay competition located at http://www.frihost.com/competitions/vc-1.html .
deanhills
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I suggest the following to prevent the spam emails from getting through:

1. Block emails with common words that are inside spam, but that your contacts will never usually use, such as "penis", "pill/s" or "weight loss".
2. Block emails with the extension ".info" and "*.info" - these addresses are almost always malicious, and it's far safer to not visit them at all.
3. Do not open email messages from anyone you don't recognize.
4. Do not open email messages from people you do know if it looks suspicious, or like it's not anything they would be sending you.
5. If the email contains a link you did not ask for, or was spoken about previously, such as a link to familiar sites such as facebook, google, or lolcats, do not open it. Politely declining the link won't usually offend people, and spammers won't respond back.
[b]6. Have a separate email account for websites that require you to use an email to use it's features. This keeps the messages that are most likely to be spam in one account which you can leave to be there in case one of those sites sends you content you need to be aware of, and the spam emails all end up in an account that isn't your main account.
Points 3-6 are great ones. I think if one followed those rules that that would solve most of the problem. I would be careful with blocking e-mails with common words and certain extensions as my employer is currently doing this, with the result that quite a large number of e-mails are being automatically diverted to spam accounts. I now have to look at all of my e-mails under a spam account as well. Examples of spammed e-mails have been those that end in another country's extension like .uk or when e-mails have been sent from a Palm or Blackberry.
standready
Thanks for the history lesson, LittleBlackKitten, and your suggestions for stopping spam.
menino
I have to deal with SPAMs everyday, as I am the system administrator, and it is such a pain.
We have an antispam server, and usually I have to check the score of the spam, and check if it is valid or not, and allow it for the clients, otherwise they will not receive their mails.
They even use common spam words like payments and bills, and invitiations, which the spam server catches, so its quite a tedious task to filter through the spam server, for about 400 clients. Shocked
LittleBlackKitten
There are sonme programs though that have automatic filters; gmail for example. If it's in a program, then use the filters. I'm not saying block out .uk or .in, that's ludacris. But blocking words like "Viagra" or "Penis" and .info exentions will block almost all possible spam, since NO business email should contain spam messag words like penis. I'm not saying to go hog-wild, just ban words you KNOW won't be in important messages. After all, why should ANYONE mention Viagra or a penis in ANY email that ISN'T spam?...
Cliffer
good lessons
kala
Quote:
Very usefull Smile
mazito
Thanks this is a good contribution, in history and how to face the problem

by the way i love the way gmail blocks the spam, i have 5 year with the adrees hardly remember a spam in my inbox
weltkarte
Thank you for this info!
I am online about 15 years and for me spam was a real pain some years ago. I had to change my private account regularly as it was flooded by ad mails. So I opened a hotmail account and used that for every registration I am not really interested to get any update. The result was that this inbox was full of spam all the time. I opened it every two or three month just to clean it up.
Today, I hardy get any spam mails! Maybe it is due to better filters? So from my side those mails are no more a real problem for me and I dont have to change the accounts all the time.....
jetgirltaxi
It's my understanding that the term "spam" did not originally refer to email, but to newsgroups. "Spamming" meant to post the same content, usually an ad, to every possible newsgroup in every possible category. BTW does anyone even use newsgroups anymore? I haven't used them is more than a decade.
Hello_World
Quote:
There are sonme programs though that have automatic filters; gmail for example. If it's in a program, then use the filters. I'm not saying block out .uk or .in, that's ludacris. But blocking words like "Viagra" or "Penis" and .info exentions will block almost all possible spam, since NO business email should contain spam messag words like penis. I'm not saying to go hog-wild, just ban words you KNOW won't be in important messages. After all, why should ANYONE mention Viagra or a penis in ANY email that ISN'T spam?...


WHAT!?! At least half my valid emails mention penises... LOL
tingkagol
I actually wanted to find out more about the canned good "Spam". I've always wondered why it's considered poor-man's food in the US. Out here a can is pretty expensive and much better tasting than local brands along with Maling. Laughing
Hello_World
I suppose,
    1) it isn't fresh
    2)as the first (I think) canned meat, it wasn't really trusted at first.
tingkagol
I've just read it was one of the standard food rations for soldiers in WW2. Perhaps due to its wide availability, it became 'cheap' in the eyes of Americans.
Hello_World
I believe that providing meat to soldiers was the impetus for the invention of canned meat.
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