In the early days of the Internet, spam was little more than an irritating nuisance. However, like every other aspect of the Internet, spam has evolved to become something far more nefarious in nature.
To understand just how big a problem spam has become, it will help to realize the sheer volume of unsolicited junk mail is sent out every day. More than 50% of all the trillions of email that is mailed out is spam.
This spam clogs up and wastes bandwidth, especially with the recent advent of image-based spam. It places a huge strain on servers and wastes a huge amount of time and money to deliver millions upon millions of unsolicited emails to the inboxes of recipients.
Mass Mailing Viruses
Aside from constantly inundating your inbox with unwanted email, spammers now also pose grave threats to the health of your computer
One of these new dangerous aspects of spam are that illicit senders can now manipulate your email addresses, and make it seem to the rest of the world that the spam that is sent is coming from your personal computer or domain. This may result in your service provider blocking your Internet connection, or terminating your account. And all of it can be done without any knowledge on your part. It can easily be made to seem that you are an actor in a malicious mail campaign when in fact you are an unwitting actor at best.
Email is the most common vehicle of choice for spreading viruses, and for hackers to get into your computer system. There is an increasing amount of this type of spam being mailed out of late. These small programs can be used in myriad harmful ways, including crashing your own system, crashing that of the parties you email or keystroke logging to gather your personal information.
Another insidious tactic that the spammers employ is called "Phishing." It involves the spammer sending out junk email that is specifically designed to look like it is from a reputable, legitimate source such as a reputable company like ebay or paypal. This spam utilizes the company's logo and official graphics.
The purpose of this type of spam is to get your personal and financial information. Often it will fraudulently send you to web sites where this information regarding email, finances, bank accounts or other personal info is gathered and used in illegal ways. Very often, the spammers will combine methods, spamming their victims with virus-laden software, phishing and other schemes that take spam to a whole new level of illicit, criminal activity.
A 2006 study by Consumer Reports estimated that in two years, Americans spent more than $7 billion on repairs and parts replacement resulting from viruses, malware and spyware. This does not take into account the cost to the Internet Providers who have to pay for all the bandwidth taken up by the spammers junk, or the cost in time, money and productivity to businesses that have to sort through all the spam.
Spam is no longer harmless, silly, or simply annoying. It is increasingly harmful and we need to protect against it.