By now, everyone in the online world should know what spam is — it’s that unwanted, inbox-choking, potentially virus-carrying and identity-thieving junk mail of the internet. What most of us don’t know or have ever really thought about is that spam and its close relatives, phishing and malware, are actually big criminal business.
It has been estimated that up to 80% of all worldwide daily email traffic is, in fact, spam. These messages do more than clutter up your inbox, however: malware and other viruses can turn your computer into a so-called “bot”, in which it becomes a robotic servant of the spammer, using your internet address and bandwidth to send out yet more spam to all the recipients in your address book.
Some versions of spam, the so-called “phishing” emails, are carefully crafted to resemble messages from a trusted source such as a bank, and contain a link for you to follow in order to correct some problem mentioned in the email. These typically ask the recipient to provide access data such as passwords or other identifying materials in order to “unlock” an account or prove their identity. What the spammers want, of course, is to gain access to your bank account. (A good rule of thumb is merely to delete any email that purports to come from a bank or other financial entity and that asks you to click upon a link.)
Even spam that appears to be blank can contain hidden HTML code written to compromise your computer’s security (to target your ISP’s server for future phishing attacks, or to install a worm or so-called Trojan Horse on your hard drive.)
There’s a link at the bottom of the post (don’t bother clicking on it — it’s not meant for you but rather for spambots to follow) to an interesting website that targets spammers where it hurts — in their pocketbooks. Once the spambot follows the link and reaches the site, it finds a veritable treasure trove of email addresses to follow in its never-ending quest. Unfortunately for the spambot, each nonsensical and non-existent address merely sends it on to “an infinite loop of randomly created email addresses (starting with the ones it generates when it first comes to the site)”. With any luck, that’s the end of that spambot and its email list.
And good riddance.
Spambots, please click here. Thanks 🙂