Ask your Grandparents about SPAM and they’ll smile and tell you that the 1937 Hormel Food Corporation creation helped us win the war.
Ask anyone with an email account in the 21st Century and they’ll tell you that it’s the biggest problem facing the internet generation today!
Today’s SPAM, also known as junk or illicit email is a far cry from 1937 and has nothing to do with solving problems, and everything to do with created them.
Spammers may argue that it’s not really a problem and that you can merely delete what you don’t want, but that is naïve in the extreme. Whether received as a private user, or as a business professional, SPAM is a cyber menace for a number of reasons:
- On the most basic level, receiving a large volume of SPAM emails wastes valuable bandwidth and time. Private user are forced to individually delete their unwanted message and administrators have to fight similar problems but on a far larger scale in an attempt to keep our businesses operational.
- This wasted time and effort inevitably leads to a loss in productivity as valuable resources are inefficiently allocated to none profitable enterprises.
- SPAM is a prime means of transferring electronic viruses and malware infections, whether deliberately, or by accident as the direct result of generating mass emails to and from a large number of recipients.
- SPAM is also not merely restricted to mass marketing schemes. Professional criminal organisations use it to instigate complex frauds and scams such as phishing attacks and “419” Nigerian fraud type scams that have made the news in recent years.
- Cost shifting can be an issue. It is incredibly cheap for the spammers to send hundreds of thousands of emails an hour, but the cost of receiving them can be many times greater, both in terms of monetary outlay and also the cost of rectifying all of the other associated problems.
- To avoid detection and possibly prosecution, spammers also ‘bounce’ their messages off third party servers. It further reduces their initial outlay and traceability, but adds extra layers of costs to an already struggling public.
- Perhaps the greatest problem is the irritation factor. SPAM is extremely annoying and there is nothing worse than accessing your email provider to find countless emails advertising products you don’t need, pornography you don’t want and scams you want to avoid.
Email and the internet can be regarded as one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but we are in danger of squandering one of the most powerful tools of communication this planet has ever known. Perhaps it is a human compunction to destroy everything it has created, or maybe it is just the same old scams that there have always been, merely made more visible by a truly global communications medium.
Whatever the reason, we need to stop considering it as ‘freedom of speech’ and start treating it as the criminal invasion of personal privacy that it clearly is. Only with greater criminal classification and appropriately severe punishments for spammers can we ever hope to be free of this cyber menace.