SPAM: The electronic food that no one likes

SPAM: The electronic food that no one likes

Remember Monty Python’s Flying Circus? One of the skits is done in a cafe where the only item on the menu is Spam. “Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!” sang the Viking patrons at the cafe. That is where all that nasty lunch meat reference of an annoying computer scam comes from.

Not many people are big fans of a can of Spam, there are some who enjoy the taste, but I do not know of anyone who likes electronic spam. Spam is spread out all over the internet and is designed to attack computers gathering information, data, or just giving them viruses. It began back in the 90’s with the use of email, spammers sending out thousands of bogus emails. Email providers even had to get a service that detected spam and sent it to a separate folder. But even that is not keeping out the crap as spammers find new ways to infiltrate and bypass security systems to annoy you even more.

I read in a message that a person had 493 messages that were spam, wow.

Today, botnets are software agents that run by themselves and are independent once they are set up by a hacker or spammer. They are sent out through distributed systems, systems that are autonomous and communicate with other computers in a network. Hence the name: ‘roBOT NETwork’. These robots are designed to infect your computer with trojans, worms, and other malicious wares.

In fact, the email botnets send out so much spam equaling 85-90% of all messages send and received!

Spam does not stop at emails, they reach out to instant messaging, social media such as Myspace and Facebook, and even blogs like Geek Choice. I cannot tell you how many spam comments I get with bogus links to websites or just random words to fill and clutter the inbox.

The number of spam messages for the United States reached 6.6  Trillion this past year, they were second only to Brasil with 7.7 Trillion, and India came in third with 3.6 Trillion.

This is a costly business, spam means manpower, loss of productivity, and additional equipment and software, in 2007 the United States spent $13 Billion alone on combating it. What can you do at home to fight back against these bots? Not a whole lot.

These botnets are so numerous to name, trying to will give you a headache, which is exactly why they are designed. The infected computers, called “zombies”, send out all those annoying emails about Viagra or Cialis, or new products, or a girl who wants  to have sex with you(check to make sure it might be a real one).

You might not even know it, but your computer could be infected and be sending out messages! Once the virus is installed, the “botmaster” can control is from anywhere. Recently a botnet named Rustock has become the biggest of the bots, controlling over one million bots sending out over 44 billion spam messages a day(Symantec study).

They are getting harder to detect too. These new botnets can be detected right away with the security softwares, so they are switching from carrying bulk messages to carrying smaller amounts so they can slip right by and into your inbox.

Bottom line, there will always be spam sent out in the billions every day. It is a fact of life, as long as internet exists, so will spam. Yum!

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