Spam History and Solutions
A brief explanation on what spam is and how you can combat against it
It all started in 1978 when an individual by the name of Gary Thuerk was a marketer for a company known as Digital Equipment Corporation. The company was preparing for a trade show where its latest computer related products would be presented and Gary thought it would be a brilliant idea to compose a quick announcement e-mail which would then be distributed over the Internet, which was known as "Arpanet" back then, to every user located on the west coast. During those days, Arpanet's policy was that its service was to only be used for research and education. Because of this clear violation, Digital Equipment Corporation received a severe report about the actions of Gary Thuerk. This incident is the very first occurrence of spam over the Internet, although the term "spam" did not really develop until the early 90's.
Today, spam has blossomed into an enormous burden for many Internet users and companies that are constantly being bombarded with unsolicited messages. As an example, here at AL6400.com we receive about 300 spam e-mail messages each day. While there is not a one-hundred percent solution to eliminating the possibilities of receiving spam, other than never using an e-mail account, here are some tips and advice based on my personal experiences:
Publishing Your E-mail Publically:
Whenever you are participating on interactive mediums such as a message board, many times you are required to register with a valid e-mail address which is then sometimes publically viewable. On the Internet, there are many tools that are designed solely for the purpose of harvesting e-mail addresses which are then sold to companies for future use. One method that many people use to avoid this predicament is to create a separate e-mail account that is used solely for the purpose of registering for certain sites and if a spammer decides to send unsolicited messages to this address, you would be able to simply delete every message without worrying if you are deleting important messages as it is not your main account that you use to communicate with others. However, these days most interactive mediums have features which hide one's e-mail address and I would recommend that you always choose to have these types of options enabled.
Using E-mail Filters:
A lot of companies also offer e-mail filters that you can implement to your accounts. The filters simply scan incoming messages for known spam messages which it then automatically transfers into the trash bin. For example, if a known spam message always contains the subject heading of "Free Viagra", it will be identified as spam and is automatically deleted. However, you should also be careful about using filters as at times it could also delete legitimate messages. As an example, many spam messages simply contain a subject heading of something along the lines of "Hi there, it's me!" which the filter would automatically send to the trash. As you may have guessed, it's not unrealistic to have a friend also send a message with that type of title which means you should be careful about your filter's settings or possibly inform your friends and family ahead of time to send messages with certain words in the e-mail.
Replying To Spam Messages:
When I first started to use the Internet, I would sometimes respond to the sender of the spam messages to request that they stop. However, I quickly learnt that this was actually counter productive as responding to spam messages only tells the sender that the account is active which encourages them to send you even more spam. Instead of replying directly to the sender, most Internet service and e-mail providers have policies that prohibit accounts from being used to send unsolicited messages to others. For example, a person using a Yahoo! account to send spam messages can be reported directly to Yahoo! by utilizing their spam report feature, as described on Yahoo's spam page, which they would then investigate.
Hopefully this article has helped to enlighten you more about spam on the Internet and has provided you with some useful tips on how to handle it.