The Battle against Spam: According to an April Report by the Federal Trade Commission, Two-Thirds of All Spam Is Deceptive in Some Way

By Conhaim, Wallys W. | Information Today, October 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Battle against Spam: According to an April Report by the Federal Trade Commission, Two-Thirds of All Spam Is Deceptive in Some Way


Conhaim, Wallys W., Information Today


One of every two e-mails is spam, according to a July study by Brightmail, Inc., an anti-spam software company based in San Francisco. Two years ago, spam accounted for only 8 percent of e-mail messages, the company says. AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis testified go Congress in May that the amount of spam doubles every 4 to 6 months.

Unsolicited e-mails used to be a mild annoyance and an inconvenience. A little filtering for such tip-off words as "free," "bargain," "congratulations," and "low rates" would handle most of it, and you could delete the rest. Now, the huge volume of mailings, the nature of their content, the deceptive practices used by some of the mailers, and the debilitating viruses carried in unwanted mail absolutely require that action be taken.

Spammers Are Scammers

According go an April report by the Federal Trade Commission, two-thirds of all spam is deceptive in some way. The illusion given in subject lines that the sender somehow knows the recipient, the false return e-mail addresses, the disparity between subject lines and the actual subject of the message, and the misleading claims of business or vacation opportunities all may violate existing state or federal laws, the FTC claims.

Spammers employ software that harvests e-mail addresses from unsuspecting Internet users who post messages to newsgroups, participate in chats, or register for e-marl newsletters. They also get the addresses from company servers or purchase them from legitimate mailing-list brokers.

Some spammers have become hackers, breaking into unsecured home or institutional servers and sending spam from these unsuspecting locations. MessageLabs says that 70 percent of all spam is distributed via such hacking. An Aug. 19 report by MSNBC's Bob Sullivan quoted a former spammer who used to send out 10 million spam messages a day. He said that he had go send 500,000 an hour to earn any money. Spammers get around existing filters by deliberately misspelling keywords or tricking software that scans for spam content.

Some spammers have gone into identity theft, posing as major marketers. They use "phisher" tactics that actively steal personal data such as Social Security and credit card numbers from unsuspecting customers who fill out order forms. I recently received one such e-mail about an "expired" credit card, supposedly from PayPal, and would have taken it seriously had I not been working on this article at the time. Other legitimate marketers who have been victims of this scam are AOL, BestBuy.com, Citibank, and EarthLink.

With spam also spreading viruses, such as the recent Sobig.F that slowed the whole Internet in mid-August and even briefly shut down computers at The New York Times, antivirus manufacturers, including McAfee, NetworkAssociates, Norton, and Symantec, are incorporating spam-detection features into their products,

Battle Heats Up

Only a year ago, most discussion about the junk e-mail problem concentrated on what consumers could do to filter spam at the receiving end. Now, powerful armies of leading ISPs, corporations, state legislatures, Congress, the courts, and yes, even the Direct Marketing Association, are focusing on the senders.

According to a 2002 study by Ferris Research, the junk mail problem is costing business $8.9 billion annually and angering consumers of Internet services (http:// www.ferris.com/url/spammkt.html).

Proposed laws include requiring a message's subject to reflect its contents, creating opt-out lists, banning Internet mining for addresses, outlawing false headers, and requiring "ADV" labels on ad e-mail. About half the states now have some kind of anti-spam legislation. Rivals AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! have formed an alliance to curb spam.

Tim Muris, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, has said that several proposed legislative solutions would be ineffective because they're not strict enough.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Battle against Spam: According to an April Report by the Federal Trade Commission, Two-Thirds of All Spam Is Deceptive in Some Way
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?