In fact, spam can be as simple as receiving a harassing or threatening email message, or as robust as a series of marketing content designed to generate leads and sales. It is the namesake of the canned luncheon meat that is often believed to be comprised of spare pork. As such, a person never knows what they are getting when it comes to spam. This notion is best highlighted by the Monty Python sketch released in 1972.
The increase in electronic communication, as well as malicious software capable of producing such content, has more than tripled the reach and impact of spam. These factors have made it a powerful and economically-viable solution in the world of technology. Spam is known for its range of adverse effects on messaging services and is otherwise best avoided by users of all experience levels.
How to Avoid Spam
The following are a few tips for avoiding spam by way of email, instant messaging and social media:
Spam and virus filters: This “tried and true” approach for combating spam is one of the most effective, and yet, not always foolproof. Sometimes these filters can wrongly classify content (known as false positives in the world of computing). It is therefore important for users to check and correct these issues to avoid the future blocking of legitimate content.
Savvy and verification: There are still a great number of users who fall for the Nigerian prince email scam through sheer ignorance. In addition to programmatic solutions which automate filtering, it is important for users to visually check for indicators, such as the masking of sender and recipient email addresses. This identifiable data is usually falsified or convoluted to conceal the underlying intent of the message. Other easily detectable features of spam is the broad context of its message, as well as its number of recipients in the “To” field.
User etiquette and responsibility: A new form of spam is “group messaging,” in which a user inboxes all their social media friends only to see them immediately leave the conversation. This, along with forwarded email chains, may be considered inappropriate. To ensure you are never guilty of sending spam, you should never send unwanted content or messages. You should also use messaging features, like BCC (blind carbon copy) and auto replies wisely. If you just so happen to be a webmaster, it is important to disclose your privacy and use policies, and to follow standards like the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.
Firewalls and Antivirus Apps: More than our inadvertent misuse of technology is the legion software components working against us. The same auto replies that can be misconstrued as spam have also been known to expose our email addresses to spammers. In essence, firewalls and antivirus apps are critical for security measures. They help stop the attacks against the systems and apps we use. Anivirus apps, in particular, can be used to automate the examining of message headers and removal of questionable content.
Other tips: It has been said that when selecting a username for any online account, you should avoid selecting commonly used or easily guessed ones. This is particularly true for webmasters who are responsible for managing websites. For example, spammers know the terms admin, webmaster, and the like are common usernames for any online system, making them prone to exploits and other compromising strategies. Protecting one’s email address is just as important—especially when prompted to share it in exchange for a free download.
Electronic communication by way of email and social media has proven to be a cost-effective medium. In turn, both have become conduits for salutation and spam. There are several methods for distinguishing between the two, but user savvy and responsibility are perhaps the most effective ways for preventing it altogether.
If an email or its attachment appears to be suspicious, avoid opening either. If any message depicts scripts or external images, don’t even preview it as such messages may be capable of sending information back to is originator. Spam is known for spreading harmful viruses which compromise computers. Proper etiquette when using messaging technology can protect you from being compromised, or becoming the culprit behind the calamity of others.