Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Battling the Infamous

Spam

It is indiscriminately sending large amounts of unsolicited or uninvited email messages, often of a commercial nature, such as money-making schemes, advertisement of dubious products, quasi-legal services, or pornography. There are two major types of spam that differ, in effect, to users. The first is the term to describe Excessive Multi Posting and Excessive Cross Posting in Usenet; the second is email spam, also known as Unsolicited Bulk E-mail and Unsolicited Commercial Email. Spamming is relatively economical for the spammers because they hold little operating costs aside from managing their mailing lists and yet, most of the costs such as transmission costs and measured telephone services are borne by the carriers and recipients of their messages - not to mention the productivity and fraud costs that the public and internet service providers endure.

Different forms are abusing diverse types of media, such as spam in:


  • Email – also known as junk mail. It may be sent through virus or worm-infected personal computers that install a backdoor portal that allows the spammer admission to the system for malicious intent.

  • Instant messaging – known as spim, a combination of words spam and IM. Although not as destructive as its email counterpart, yet the abuse is increasing per annum since 2002, as instant messaging programs tend not to be blocked by firewalls.

  • Blogs – also known as blam, that took advantage of the attributes in the blogging software by flooding comments to various blog posts that provide a link to the spammer’s web site.

  • Web search engine - junk in search results for cheating into higher position that violate search engine quality guidelines.

  • File sharing network

  • Newsgroups and forums


The Downside

While this has been extremely advantageous to advertisers, the ISPs and recipient think otherwise. In the advent of commercial advertising online, it does not force people to receive advertisements because visiting a web site is a choice. However, spammers compel you to receive bulk mail on your mailboxes, which is indeed added cost on your part. It is indeed an abuse of the freedom of speech, as the constant bombardment of messages is often offensive to the public. Not to mention, in a recent incident, the amount of spam messages are larger than the valid mails and postings – a nuisance for ISPs as well, for they have the trouble of managing to store such illegitimate junk mails on their servers.

The Assault

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.”

This dogma is extremely effective in terms of strategic attempts to fight internet spam. Although a number of ISPs have E-mail screeners or filters to stop spam from reaching your mailbox, but this doesn’t effectively fight spam, it only automates the deletion process. Track the enemy down, decode the headers in order to complain to the right authorities. To view the header, find the e-mail source, copy and paste the header information and send it to the ISP of the spammer and complain about it (e.g. abuse@att.net). Various spam fighting tools are available such as Sam Spade and SpamKiller that are very useful in determining the origin of spam. However, if you own a website, and you create email accounts for submitting your ads, it would prevent receiving spam if you delete and make different email addresses each month after submitting your email to websites. To prevent spam on message boards, it would be best yet inconvenient to require their registration to be approved by the moderator. An alternative is to be vigilant and during registration, ban the back sides. On the other hand, one useful tool to fight web spam is the extracting data from search logs. It records data from IP address and cookie information and use metrics that measure aspects of search quality. This is to monitor the performance on query months before.

To prepare in the war against spamming, one should know the enemy first. Be educated about spam, know how it is done, be the enemy, know the enemy and its weaknesses, and win the battle – for he who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.