Virtually anyone who uses an Internet-connected computer these days would probably agree that spam–the annoying unsolicited commercial e-mail that somehow creeps into our mailboxes–is a fact of life.
Like the much-maligned canned lunch meat that bears the same moniker, spam seems to be everywhere in the cyber universe. Most people also seem to be aware that spam hyperlinks–if followed–can put criminals on the royal road to your identity, your company’s business data, or more sensitive personal information–or all of these.
Given the danger, one would think that people would be fairly hostile towards spam and spammers, yet the very ubiquitousness of spam seems to have inured us to its potentially devastating effects.
For example, McAfee, Inc. recently released the results of its S.P.A.M. (Spammed Persistently All Month) Experiment, in which 50 people from around the world surfed the Web “unprotected” for 30 days. As a result, the company concludes that spam “is an immense problem and it’s simply not going away. It’s no longer a question of ‘solving’ it, but one of ‘managing’ it.”
That sounds to me like McAfee, which, ironically, makes anti-spam software, is throwing in the proverbial towel on making any significant headway toward wiping out spam. Instead, the phenomenon just seems to be relegated to a cost-of-doing-business status.
Interestingly, the McAfee press release on this topic doesn’t exactly say how we should “manage” this problem. The solution, presumably, is to buy the company’s anti-spam products, but the implication is that these products will not do one much good in the overall fight against this menace.
McAfee researchers say that spammers are as active as ever; and they are increasingly using psychological tricks to lure Internet users to part with their contact details, identity information and cash.
In this “first experiment of its kind,” the participants from 10 countries received more than 104,000 spam e-mails throughout the course of the experiment, says McAfee. “That’s 2,096 messages each–the equivalent of approximately 70 messages a day.”
Many of the spam messages received were phishing e-mails; e-mails which pose as a trustworthy source to criminally acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and bank account details. Other e-mails carried viruses, and many allowed malware to be silently installed on the computers by persuading participants to surf unsafe Web sites, the company notes.