Saturday, December 12, 2009

SPAM (PART 1)

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What Is Spam?----

You have probably seen an increase in the amount of junk mail which shows up in your email box, or on your favorite newsgroup. The activities of a small number of people are becoming a bigger problem for the Internet.

Chain letters that ask for money, whether for reports or just straight up, are illegal in the US whether they are in postal mail or e-mail. Report these frauds to your local US Postmaster. You may see e-mail coming from Nigeria or another African country, sent by someone who wants to use your bank account to transfer 20 million dollars. This is called a '419' scam and people have been killed over it.

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender. To the recipient, spam is easily recognizable. If you hired someone to read your mail and discard the spam, they would have little trouble doing it. How much do we have to do, short of AI, to automate this process? I think we will be able to solve the problem with fairly simple algorithms. In fact, I've found that you can filter present-day spam acceptably well using nothing more than a Bayesian combination of the spam probabilities of individual words. Using a slightly tweaked (as described below) Bayesian filter, we now miss less than 5 per 1000 spams, with 0 false positives.

One particularly nasty variant of email spam is sending spam to mailing lists (public or private email discussion forums.) Because many mailing lists limit activity to their subscribers, spammers will use automated tools to subscribe to as many mailing lists as possible, so that they can grab the lists of addresses, or use the mailing list as a direct target for their attacks.





Spam: Where it Came From, and How to Escape It.----

Who Cooked This!? (How did it all start?)

The modern meaning of the word "spam" has nothing to do with spiced ham. In the early 1990's, a skit by British comedy group Monty Python led to the word's common usage. "The SPAM Skit" follows a couple struggling to order dinner from a menu consisting entirely of Hormel's canned ham.

Repetition is key to the skit's hilarity.

The actors cram the word "SPAM" into the 2.5 minute skit more than 104 times! This flood prompted Usenet readers to call unwanted newsgroup postings "spam." The name stuck.

Spammers soon focused on e-mail, and the terminology moved with them. Today, the word has come out of technical obscurity. Now, "spam" is the common term for "Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail", or "UCE."


Why Does Bad Spam Happen to Good People?

Chances are, you've been spammed before. Somehow, your e-mail address has found it's way into the hands of a spammer, and your inbox is suffering the consequences. How does this happen? There are several possibilities.

Backstabbing Businesses.

Businesses often keep lists of their customers' e-mail addresses. This is a completely legitimate practice and, usually, nothing bad comes of it. Sometimes though, the temptation to make a quick buck is too great, and these lists are sold or rented to outside advertisers. The result? A lot of unsolicited e-mail, and a serious breach of trust.

Random Address Generation.

Computer programs called random address generators simply "guess" e-mail addresses. Over 100 million hotmail addresses exist - howhard could it be to guess some of them? Unfortunately for many unsuspecting netizens - not too hard. Many spammers also guess at
"standard" addresses, like "support@yourdomain.com",
"info@yourdomain.com", and "billing@yourdomain.com."

Web Spiders.

Today's most insidious list-gathering tools are web spiders. All of the major search engines spider the web, saving information about each page. Spammers use tools that also spider the web, but save any e-mail address they come across. Your personal web page lists your e-mail address? Prepare for an onslaught!

Chat Room Harvesting.

ISP's offer vastly popular chat rooms where users are known only by their screen names. Of course, spammers know that your screen name is the first part of your e-mail address. Why waste time guessing e-mail addresses when a few hours of lurking in a chat room can net a list of actively-used addresses?

The Poor Man's Bad Marketing Idea.

It didn't work for the phone companies, and it won't work for e-mail marketers. But, some spammers still keep their own friends-and-family-style e-mail lists. Compiled from the addresses of other known spammers, and people or businesses that the owner has come across in the past, these lists are still illegitimate. Why? Only you can give someone permission to send you e-mail. A friend-of-a-friend's permission won't cut it.

Stop The Flood to Your Inbox.

Already drowning in spam? Try using your e-mail client's filters - many provide a way to block specific e-mail addresses. Each time you're spammed, block the sender's address. Spammers skip from address to address, and you may be on many lists, but this method will at least slow the flow.




Also, use more than one e-mail address, and keep one "clean." Many netizens find that this technique turns the spam flood into a trickle. Use one address for only spam-safe activities like e-mailing your friends, or signing on with trustworthy businesses. Never use your clean address on the web! Get a free address to use on the web and in chat rooms.


If nothing else helps, consider changing screen names, or opening an entirely new e-mail account. When you do, you'll start with a clean, spam-free slate. This time, protect your e-mail address!

Stay Off Spammed Lists in the Future.

Want to surf the web without getting sucked into the spam-flood? Prevention is your best policy. Don't use an easy-to-guess e-mail address. Keep your address clean by not using it for spam-centric activities. Don't post it on any web pages, and don't use it in chat rooms or newsgroups.


Before giving your clean e-mail address to a business, check the company out. Are sections of its user agreement dedicated to anti-spam rules? Does a privacy policy explain exactly what will be done with your address? The most considerate companies also post an anti-spam policy written in plain English, so you can be absolutely sure of what you're getting into.

Think You're Not a Spammer? Be Sure.

Many a first-time marketer has inadvertently spammed his audience. The first several hundred complaints and some nasty phone messages usually stop him in his tracks. But by then, the spammer may be faced with cleanup bills from his ISP, and a bad reputation that it's not easy to overcome.


The best way to avoid this situation is to have a clear understanding of what spam is: If anyone who receives your mass e-mails did not specifically ask to hear from you, then you are spamming them.

Stick with your gut. Don't buy a million addresses for $10, no matter how much the seller swears by them! If something sounds fishy, just say no. You'll save yourself a lot in the end.

The Final Blow.

The online world is turning the tide on spam. In the end, people will stop sending spam because it stops working. Do your part: never buy from a spammer. When your business seeks out technology companies with which to work, only choose those with a staunch anti-spam stance.

Spam has a long history in both the food and e-mail sectors. This year, Hormel Foods opened a real-world museum dedicated to SPAM. While the museum does feature the Monty Python SPAM Skit, there's no word yet on an unsolicited commercial e-mail exhibit. But, if all upstanding netizens work together, Hormel's ham in a can will far outlive the Internet plague that is UCE.
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Spam Filter - Bayesian Filter to Fight back Spammers----


The most prolific and path breaking innovation of last century had been the developments in the communication field. It literally changed the business working, product marketing, support services and most importantly, the advertisement campaigns.

But just like all goods things comes with a price, so was the communication. It brought in the problems of Spam Emails. Automated mailers with mass mailing capabilities, growing marketing dependencies on this tool have seen the large losses in terms of time and money.

There have been many ways of targeting spam mails like blacklisted domains, banned IPs, words in subject and many more. The spammers have always found out a way to change their identity. But here is the catch. The spammers are being paid to send the message. They can change their Domains, IPs, subject lines, but how much they can play with the contents? And that’s where content based filtering comes into focus. Now we can understand that by targeting and focusing on message body, there is a better chance of filtering spam emails.

Apart from the usual spam emails, the new menace has been created by the "phishing emails" targeting primarily eBay and PayPal accounts. These emails come as a "Last Warning", "Attention Required", "Password Change Required" or "Your account is suspended" among many more. These mails appear to have come from eBay or PayPal and provide a link to their own page.

These pages are designed just like the original pages and the unsuspecting user ends up providing his/her sensitive information like username/password or Credit Card Information to these duplicate pages. Here I would like to add one piece of advice to all users that you should always see where the link is taking you by seeing the tool tip and then if sure, follow the link.

The role of content in marking the mail spam or not spam has been achieved using the Bayesian filter. Together with the Black List of spammers and White list of trusted emails ids, is the best technique to counter the spam. The most interesting fact is that Spam Filter with Bayesian algorithm is a self learning filter. The more you use, the more secure you shall be within a matter of few days.

The spam filter integrate easily with popular emails clients such MS outlook and Outlook Express. With due course, up to 98% of the spam mails can be stopped from entering your Inbox. The Spam Filter for Outlook Express and Spam Filter for Microsoft Outlook, with the features of White List/Black List and properly used Bayesian Algorithm will help prevent spam mails, phishing mails and fraud mails from bothering you further.

There has been a considerable increase in the spam mails containing Non English Characters also. The Bayesian Algorithm based Spam Filter also must have the capability to parse non English characters and mark as spam mail.

To get rid of continuous spam mails, phishing mails, fraud mails and Non-English mails, you might like to try Official Spam Filter for Outlook Express 1.2 and Official Spam Filter for Microsoft Outlook 1.2. Official Spam Filter has the capability to seamlessly integrate with MS Outlook and Outlook Express and provide following features:

•Bayesian Algorithm for Anti Spam Filtering

•Auto Learning Bayesian Filter to challenge Spam Emails

•White List of Trusted Email Address

•Custom Black List

•Individual Marking of Spam/Not Spam Emails

•Optional feature to block Non-English Emails

•Complete Mail Header Information


Spammers And Spam Hunters----

Sometimes I don't know which people are the worst. Those that spam or those that say they are going after spammers.

I deleted 145 spam posts on one of my blogs today. Fortunately I have moderate comments turned on so they never actually get posted. That makes the spammers bad, but that’s the worst inconvenience spammers have caused me.

However those that supposedly are our Spam saviors. Those that say they are fighting spam have caused me more problems than the spammers themselves.

Sorbs.net lists your domain name as a spam domain name if you happen to be hosted on or near the same IP address as the spammers. Therefore you are guilty by association.

To get your domain name removed off of sorbs.net's list, you have to give them money. Sounds a lot like extortion since they manually add you to the list then ask you for money to be removed.

Then of course they tell you that they give the money to charity. I checked out the charity they say they give the money to. It goes to a legal defense fund they could use to defend themselves if you sued them. Some charity.

Twice now blogger.com has caused me spamconvenience. They have locked me out of one of my own blogs and one I manage for a client because their spambot said it might be spam. It also says that if you are a human reading this message then of course I am not likely a spambot and they will correct the situation.

They did this even though on that blog they require me to type into the little box whatever crazy letters they have in the little graphic to make each post on that same blog.

Half the time the little picture isn't even there. So you cannot type the little letters into the box because the little letters don't exist. So how can they use that method to make sure I am not spamming, then flag it as a spam blog?

However since I get paid to blog daily on the client's blog, my loss of income, that I am sure Google will not reimburse me for, is just that lost income due to the spam fighters.

They did this today to the client's blog. They are reviewing it they say. Like to see that blog? Go to http://hotelsandapartments.blogspot.com It's not spam.

The first time it happened was one day after I created the blog. It had exactly one post in it. Wow, what a spammer I am. They blocked me from logging in but sent me a very nice email, which I had not opted in for, saying they would be glad to review that blog too. They even provided a nice link to where I could fill out a form to request a review.

When I followed their nice link in the unsolicited email, (not spam), they sent me, it asked me to log in using the username and password that THEY HAD ALREADY BLOCKED ME FROM USING!

So that blog had to be rebuilt elsewhere. Again, I have had way more trouble from spam fighters than I ever have had from spammers. Well, that’s all for my rant. Now I have to see if I can get the little picture below to load so I can see what stupid letters I have to type into the box so you can see this post.

Steps to Reducing SPAM in Your Inbox----

Steps to Reducing SPAM in Your Inbox

Spam first made its mark in the world in 1978 when Gary Thuerk, Marketing Director of Digital Equipment Technology sent an email solicitation to 400 employees at Arpnet. The email created a few sales, but it also created fierce backlash. Today, more than 180 billion spam messages are sent out each day to over 1 billion Internet users. This staggering statistic makes it clear why spam is such a major problem for Internet users. Many companies are working hard to solve the spam problem, but the first step to stopping spam starts with the consumer.

By following the steps below, Internet users can reduce the number of spam email messages they receive in their inbox.

Before an Invasion of Spam

Software:
Choose email providers that offer built-in spam protection services. Look for service providers that promote a high success rate of blocking spam email.

Spam Filters:
Spam is a cat and mouse game. Spammers are constantly looking for ways to bypass filters. Regularly check your spam filter software if you’re using non-web based email to make sure it is up to date. If you’re using web-based email,m make sure your webmail provider is working hard to protect you from spam.

Improve Security:
A firewall may be one of the most important applications on a computer. It acts as a barrier between hackers and the computer, and prevents access to unauthorized information.

Limit Email Dispersal:
When performing online transactions, thoroughly scan the page for any checked and unchecked boxes. Some companies will word these boxes in a way to increase the likelihood of a consumer opting-in to their email campaigns.

Shop From Known Vendors:
Shopping from known vendors can greatly reduce the threat of spam email. Many companies are guilty of selling email addresses to third parties, which are then used for spam. The company’s privacy policy is supposed to list their intended uses of your personal information, such as whether they will sell your email address to third parties. Consumers can check the Better Business Bureau’s and the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) websites for lists of reputable companies and for lists of violators.

Once Spam Becomes a Problem

Internet users should avoid opening spam. It should be immediately deleted. Pay close attention to the senders email address as most spammers use deceptive subject lines intended to promote opening. If opened, avoid attachments, which may contain viruses, and do not purchase goods or donate to charities solicited in the message. Many spam email messages will have unsubscribe links at the bottom of the message, as dictated by the CAN-SPAM Act.

If consumers find themselves with an inbox full of spam, they can also report the spam emails to their Internet Service Provider.

There are numerous companies and organizations designed to regulate the Internet and protect users. But, it is important that Internet users are informed of the threats of spam. By following the stated suggestions and by not falling victim to the ploys of spammers, users can help put spammers out of business, and keep their inbox free of junk email.
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Strategies To Fight Email Spam----

If you are a business owner and you rely on email, spam is going to be a major concern. How you address it can make a big difference in employee efficiency. Email spam has been a nuisance and has gotten even worse over the last several years. Email spam slows down server performance and can eat away at storage. Cleaning all those bad messages out of your inbox is time consuming. The easiest way for viruses to spread is via email.

Having a strategy to deal with email spam and viruses threats is essential for any business to survive and be productive. You can limit the negative impact to your business by having policies and guidelines in place.

Tips to avoid getting email spam:

  • If you have a company web site, use a contact form that the web site visitor
    can fill out. Some spam mers use robots that crawl web pages looking for
    email addresses. Your web site designer should be able to help you with this.

  • When signing up for forums, products and services use a free email or throwaway
    account like hotmail or Yahoo mail.

  • When signing up for offers be careful what boxes you check although technically
    not spam you may get a lot of email offers you do not want.

  • Never reply to an email spam message, this just lets them know that your
    account is active.

  • You may want to use a throwaway email address if you post on newsgroups
    or forums.

These measures may help to reduce spam, but if you have an old email address you may want to change your email address or deploy a spam filter system. There are several choices for anti spam systems you could buy software that runs locally on your PC to filter the spam, but this can be expensive, does not prevent virus infection, and is not a good choice in a networked environment. Managing individual machine spam software is inefficient.

If you have limited technical resources you can outsource you email spam filtering to a hosted anti spam and virus solution provider. Spam filter service providers colocate their spam and virus filters in data centers with redundant power and network connections. You will need to change your mail exchanger on your dns servers to point to the service providers spam filters. Your service provider will then scrub your email for spam and viruses. They then forward your email to your mail server minus the spam and viruses. This gives you a few extra layers of protection. In the event of a network outage or server downtime your email is held and is delivered when the network or your server is available minus the virus and spam. Spam filter services also scan for viruses; this adds another layer of defense to the virus software already running on your network.

If you have an organization with more than one hundred email boxes investing in your own spam filter appliance is the most cost effective solution if you have the technical expertise to manage the system. A spam appliance sits in front of your email server and blocks spam and viruses. The price of the spam appliance will depend upon your number of users, amount of mail and storage requirements.

Fighting spam is no longer be a losing battle if you have a good strategy to deal with the threat.

The Economics of Spam----

Tennessee resident K. C. "Khan" Smith owes the internet service provider EarthLink $24 million. According to the CNN, in August 2001 he was slapped with a lawsuit accusing him of violating federal and state Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984, the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and numerous other state laws. On July 19, 2002 - having failed to appear in court - the judge ruled against him. Mr. Smith is a spammer.

Brightmail, a vendor of e-mail filters and anti-spam applications warned that close to 5 million spam "attacks" or "bursts" occurred in June 2002 and that spam has mushroomed 450 percent since June 2001. This pace continued unabated well into the beginning of 2004 when the introduction of spam filters began to take effect. PC World concurs.

Between one half and three quarters of all e-mail messages are spam or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) - unsolicited and intrusive commercial ads, mostly concerned with sex, scams, get rich quick schemes, financial services and products, and health articles of dubious provenance. The messages are sent from spoofed or fake e-mail addresses. Some spammers hack into unsecured servers - mainly in China and Korea - to relay their missives anonymously.

Starting in 2003, malicious hackers began using spam to install malware - such as viruses, adware, spyware, and Trojans - on the unprotected personal computers of less savvy users. They thus transform these computers into "zombies", organize them into spam-spewing "bots" (networks), and sell access to them to criminals on penumbral boards and forums all over the Net.

Spam is an industry. Mass e-mailers maintain lists of e-mail addresses, often "harvested" by spamware bots - specialized computer applications - from Web sites. These lists are rented out or sold to marketers who use bulk mail services. They come cheap - c. $100 for 10 million addresses. Bulk mailers provide servers and bandwidth, charging c. $300 per million messages sent.

As spam recipients become more inured, ISPs less tolerant, and both more litigious - spammers multiply their efforts in order to maintain the same response rate. Spam works. It is not universally unwanted - which makes it tricky to outlaw. It elicits between 0.1 and 1 percent in positive follow ups, depending on the message. Many messages now include HTML, JavaScript, and ActiveX coding and thus resemble (or actually contain) viruses and Trojans.

Jupiter Media Matrix predicted in 2001 that the number of spam messages annually received by a typical Internet user will double to 1400 and spending on legitimate e-mail marketing will reach $9.4 billion by 2006 - compared to $1 billion in 2001. Forrester Research pegs the number at $4.8 billion in 2003.

More than 2.3-5 billion spam messages are sent daily. eMarketer puts the figures a lot lower at 76 billion messages in 2002. By 2006, daily spam output will soar to c. 15 billion missives, says Radicati Group. Jupiter projects a more modest 268 billion annual messages this year (2005). An average communication costs the spammer 0.00032 cents.

PC World quotes the European Union as pegging the bandwidth costs of spam worldwide in 2002 at $8-10 billion annually. Other damages include server crashes, time spent purging unwanted messages, lower productivity, aggravation, and increased cost of Internet access.

Inevitably, the spam industry gave rise to an anti-spam industry. According to a Radicati Group report titled "Anti-virus, anti-spam, and content filtering market trends 2002-2006", anti-spam revenues were projected to exceed $88 million in 2002 - and more than double by 2006. List blockers, report and complaint generators, advocacy groups, registers of known spammers, and spam filters all proliferate. The Wall Street Journal reported in its June 25, 2002 issue about a resurgence of anti-spam startups financed by eager venture capital.

ISPs are bent on preventing abuse - reported by victims - by expunging the accounts of spammers. But the latter simply switch ISPs or sign on with free services like Hotmail and Yahoo! Barriers to entry are getting lower by the day as the costs of hardware, software, and communications plummet.

The use of e-mail and broadband connections by the general population is spreading. Hundreds of thousands of technologically-savvy operators have joined the market in the last five years, as the dotcom bubble burst. Still, Steve Linford of the UK-based Spamhaus.org insists that most spam emanates from c. 80 large operators.

Now, according to Jupiter Media, ISPs and portals are poised to begin to charge advertisers in a tier-based system, replete with premium services. Writing back in 1998, Bill Gates described a solution also espoused by Esther Dyson, chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

"As I first described in my book 'The Road Ahead' in 1995, I expect that eventually you'll be paid to read unsolicited e-mail. You'll tell your e-mail program to discard all unsolicited messages that don't offer an amount of money that you'll choose. If you open a paid message and discover it's from a long-lost friend or somebody else who has a legitimate reason to contact you, you'll be able to cancel the payment. Otherwise, you'll be paid for your time."

Subscribers may not be appreciative of the joint ventures between gatekeepers and inbox clutterers. Moreover, dominant ISPs, such as AT&T and PSINet have recurrently been accused of knowingly collaborating with spammers. ISPs rely on the data traffic that spam generates for their revenues in an ever-harsher business environment.

The Financial Times and others described how WorldCom refuses to ban the sale of spamware over its network, claiming that it does not regulate content. When "pink" (the color of canned spam) contracts came to light, the implicated ISPs blame the whole affair on rogue employees.

PC World begs to differ:

"Ronnie Scelson, a self-described spammer who signed such a contract with PSInet, (says) that backbone providers are more than happy to do business with bulk e-mailers. 'I've signed up with the biggest 50 carriers two or three times', says Scelson ... The Louisiana-based spammer claims to send 84 million commercial e-mail messages a day over his three 45-megabit-per-second DS3 circuits. 'If you were getting $40,000 a month for each circuit', Scelson asks, 'would you want to shut me down?'"

The line between permission-based or "opt-in" e-mail marketing and spam is getting thinner by the day. Some list resellers guarantee the consensual nature of their wares. According to the Direct Marketing Association's guidelines, quoted by PC World, not responding to an unsolicited e-mail amounts to "opting-in" - a marketing strategy known as "opting out". Most experts, though, strongly urge spam victims not to respond to spammers, lest their e-mail address is confirmed.

But spam is crossing technological boundaries. Japan has just legislated against wireless SMS spam targeted at hapless mobile phone users. Many states in the USA as well as the European parliament have followed suit. Ideas regarding a "do not spam" list akin to the "do not call" list in telemarketing have been floated. Mobile phone users will place their phone numbers on the list to avoid receiving UCE (spam). Email subscribers enjoy the benefits of a similar list under the CAN-Spam Act of 2003.

Expensive and slow connections make mobile phone spam and spim (instant messaging spam) particularly resented. Still, according to Britain's Mobile Channel, a mobile advertising company quoted by "The Economist", SMS advertising - a novelty - attracts a 10-20 percent response rate - compared to direct mail's 1-3 percent.

Net identification systems - like Microsoft's Passport and the one proposed by Liberty Alliance - will make it even easier for marketers to target prospects.

The reaction to spam can be described only as mass hysteria. Reporting someone as a spammer - even when he is not - has become a favorite pastime of vengeful, self-appointed, vigilante "cyber-cops". Perfectly legitimate, opt-in, email marketing businesses and discussion forums often find themselves in one or more black lists - their reputation and business ruined.

In January 2002, CMGI-owned Yesmail was awarded a temporary restraining order against MAPS - Mail Abuse Prevention System - forbidding it to place the reputable e-mail marketer on its Real-time Blackhole list. The case was settled out of court.

Harris Interactive, a large online opinion polling company, sued not only MAPS, but ISPs who blocked its email messages when it found itself included in MAPS' Blackhole. Their CEO accused one of their competitors for the allegations that led to Harris' inclusion in the list.

Coupled with other pernicious phenomena - such as viruses, Trojans, and spyware - the very foundation of the Internet as a fun, relatively safe, mode of communication and data acquisition is at stake.

Spammers, it emerges, have their own organizations. NOIC - the National Organization of Internet Commerce threatened to post to its Web site the e-mail addresses of millions of AOL members. AOL has aggressive anti-spamming policies. "AOL is blocking bulk email because it wants the advertising revenues for itself (by selling pop-up ads)" the president of NOIC, Damien Melle, complained to CNET.

Spam is a classic "free rider" problem. For any given individual, the cost of blocking a spammer far outweighs the benefits. It is cheaper and easier to hit the "delete" key. Individuals, therefore, prefer to let others do the job and enjoy the outcome - the public good of a spam-free Internet. They cannot be left out of the benefits of such an aftermath - public goods are, by definition, "non-excludable". Nor is a public good diminished by a growing number of "non-rival" users.

Such a situation resembles a market failure and requires government intervention through legislation and enforcement. The FTC - the US Federal Trade Commission - has taken legal action against more than 100 spammers for promoting scams and fraudulent goods and services.

"Project Mailbox" is an anti-spam collaboration between American law enforcement agencies and the private sector. Non government organizations have entered the fray, as have lobbying groups, such as CAUCE - the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail.

But, a few recent anti-spam and anti-spyware Acts notwithstanding, Congress is curiously reluctant to enact stringent laws against spam. Reasons cited are free speech, limits on state powers to regulate commerce, avoiding unfair restrictions on trade, and the interests of small business. The courts equivocate as well. In some cases - e.g., Missouri vs. American Blast Fax - US courts found "that the provision prohibiting the sending of unsolicited advertisements is unconstitutional".

According to Spamlaws.com, the 107th Congress, for instance, discussed these laws but never enacted them:

Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001 (H.R. 95), Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act (H.R. 113), Anti-Spamming Act of 2001 (H.R. 718), Anti-Spamming Act of 2001 (H.R. 1017), Who Is E-Mailing Our Kids Act (H.R. 1846), Protect Children From E-Mail Smut Act of 2001 (H.R. 2472), Netizens Protection Act of 2001 (H.R. 3146), "CAN SPAM" Act of 2001 (S. 630).

Anti-spam laws fared no better in the 106th Congress. Some of the states have picked up the slack. Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The situation is no better across the pond. The European parliament decided in 2001 to allow each member country to enact its own spam laws, thus avoiding a continent-wide directive and directly confronting the communications ministers of the union. Paradoxically, it also decided, in March 2002, to restrict SMS spam. Confusion clearly reigns. Finally, in May 2002, it adopted strong anti-spam provisions as part of a Directive on Data Protection.

Responding to this unfavorable legal environment, spam is relocating to developing countries, such as Malaysia, Nepal, and Nigeria. In a May 2005 report, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) warned that these countries lack the technical know-how and financial resources (let alone the will) to combat spam. Their users, anyhow deprived of bandwidth, endure, as a result, a less reliable service and an intermittent access to the Internet;

"Spam is a much more serious issue in developing countries...as it is a heavy drain on resources that are scarcer and costlier in developing countries than elsewhere" - writes the report's author, Suresh Ramasubramanian, an OECD advisor and postmaster for Outblaze.com.

ISPs, spam monitoring services, and governments in the rich industrialized world react by placing entire countries - such as Macedonia and Costa Rica - on black lists and, thus denying access to their users en bloc.

International collaboration against the looming destruction of the Internet by crime organizations is budding. The FTC had just announced that it will work with its counterparts abroad to cut zombie computers off the network. A welcome step - but about three years late. Spammers the world over are still six steps ahead and are having the upper hand.

The Spamming Trap For Online Business Beginners-----

People who begin their online business ventures would naturally be unaware of many of the internet business rules, protocols and etiquettes. Yet, as in any law, the internet law does not forgive for ignorance. One of the most important issues that are governed by many controls over the internet is Spamming.

A beginner in online business can very easily fall unintentionally into the spamming trap while conducting internet marketing activity to promote his/her business.

Spamming has many faces and forms depending on the marketing activity performed. We will list the marketing activity, the possible spamming forms within each marketing activity, possible consequences and how to avoid unintentional spamming in each spamming form.

1- E-mail Campaigns: The most common spamming method is conducted through e-mail campaigns. E-mail spamming is when you send an e-mail promoting your product or service to someone who did not request any information from you. In many cases beginners fall into the trap of buying lists of e-mails from questionable sources and when sending the e-mail campaign they would realize that one of the following occurred:

a. Received direct complaints.
b. The e-mail account gets shut from the ISP or the hosting provider.
c. Contacted by internet police.

How to avoid e-mail spamming:

a. Make sure that the person who you are sending your campaign to has requested information from you or allowed you to send him e-mails.

b. When buying e-mail lists make sure that the list is safe and has allowed e-mails to be sent to them.

c. Ensure to have a statement at the end of your e-mail that would allow the recipient of your e-mail campaign to opt out if they do not wish to receive any communication from you.

2- Link Submission: Spamming in Link submission could be done in different forms but to cut the story short, you should follow the rules of each directory carefully. Among the very famous rules that are common across many link submission directories:

a. Do not submit your website link in more than one category.
b. Do not submit different pages of your website; submit only your top level link.
c. Do not submit your link more than once. Search the directory to check if your link already exists.

Failing to follow the rules of each directory would delete your link immediately at this particular directory.

3- Article Submission: Just like link directories, article directories have their own rules as well. Not complying with these rules will make those directories decline your articles. Among the most famous rules are the following:

a. Submit your own work and not somebody else's.
b. Submit a topic that is acceptable by the directory.
c. Do not make your title all in Capital letters. Use Title Caps form.
d. Do not Bold your key words within your article.

4- Posting in Forum: Again you have to read the rules of each forum you intend to be part of before you make any posts. Among the most famous rules are the following:

a. Do not advertise your business in your posts.
b. Do not include affiliate links in your posts.
c. Follow the exact rules of the forum for your sig. file.

Failing to comply will make the forum moderators cancel your account permanently.

5- Blogging: Filling your Blog by copying other people's articles could eliminate your account permanently with your Blog host.

6- Search Engine Related Spamming Activity:

a. Filling your site content with your keywords will be considered spamming by search engines.
b. Submitting your website to link farms will be considered spamming by search engines.
c. Adding huge amounts of content to your website while your site niche does not usually require such additions will be considered spamming by search engines.
d. Submitting your website to FFA's could be considered as spamming by search engines.
e. Including Keywords in your Keyword tag on your website while they are not related to your website could be considered as spamming by search engines.

I hope this will help all online business beginners to avoid the spamming trap and have a smooth and successful internet marketing activity.


The Threat of Spam and Basic Preventative Measures----

Everyone who uses the internet has more than likely been targets of spam at one time or another. At first they are easy to dismiss for internet experienced persons, however for the inexperienced user of the internet, the messages contained can sometimes be intimidating and in some instances lead to trouble (I will come onto a personal example later).

Spam can take several forms; email and search engine spam are just two, but the one we will concentrate on in this article, and also the one you will, and have most likely encountered, is via email.

Spam is defined as unsolicited bulk mail, much of which is caught in your “bulk” or “trash” folder found in your email service provider control panel. You have probably often seen a mass of these types of emails in you bulk folders when checking for email that you actually have consented to receive, as many emails are caught by spam filters even though they should not. The majority of spam you may receive will be of a sexual or gambling nature, however over the past few months I have noticed an ever-increasing number of scam emails asking for sensitive information, claiming to be someone they are not.

Paypal and eBay scams are a prime example of these types of emails known as “phishing scam emails”. The email will be along the lines of:

“We have noticed an irregularity in your account details and require you to update them immediately. Failure to do so will result in the permanent closure of your account”

You can see how these emails can be pretty alarming to an inexperienced internet user who may only occasionally use the internet to sell or buy items on eBay for example. Some of the emails will look very convincing, and will use the images and symbols of the respective company, however be very cautious and take heed to the following important point:

If you are unsure of the legitimacy of the email, do not follow any link contained within the email to an external website. Instead, type the website address that you know is correct into your browser directly, so that you are safe in the knowledge that you are not using a fraudulent website.

Failure to do this may result in your account being hijacked by the scammer; it’s as easy as this. You follow the link in the email to a website claiming to be, and also looking very much like one where you have an account. The website will ask you to input your username and password to access your account and voila, you will have now sent this information to the scammer, allowing them access to your account containing sensitive information about you.

Another type of email scam that has been very popular is where you are notified to be the very lucky winner of a lottery, even though you have never entered the lottery in the location claiming your success! This is where the example of a personal experience comes in. Many people reading this will be thinking “I’ll never fall for one of these scams”, however the unfortunate reality is that many people will do so. An elderly relative of mine received one of these lottery scams from Spain, and then insisted on following up with the email scam, even though they had never even entered the lottery draw. The only stumbling block was that the bank account details required, needed to be sent by fax, which she couldn’t do, and despite the frustration that this caused I of course refused to help send it.

There are measures that you can take to help avoid being targeted by spammers; a few have been mentioned here. However, in addition never reply to a scam email as it will notify them that the email address is live and also that you have read the email, leading to further spam.

Of course there are many other threats from spam that are not discussed here, such as viruses and trojans being sent via email attachments. More details on spam can be
http://mrsellars.com/mrblog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/junk_mail_mailbox.jpg


Two Main Groups Of Spam!-----

There are two main types of spam, and they have different effects on Internet users. Cancellable Usenet spam is a single message sent to 20 or more Usenet newsgroups. (Through long experience, Usenet users have found that any message posted to so many newsgroups is often not relevant to most or all of them.) Usenet spam is aimed at lurkers, people who read newsgroups but rarely or never post and give their address away. Usenet spam robs users of the utility of the newsgroups by overwhelming them with a barrage of advertising or other irrelevant posts. Furthermore, Usenet spam subverts the ability of system administrators and owners to manage the topics they accept on their systems.

I think it's possible to stop spam, and that content-based filters are the way to do it. The Achilles heel of the spammers is their message. They can circumvent any other barrier you set up. They have so far, at least. But they have to deliver their message, whatever it is. If we can write software that recognizes their messages, there is no way they can get around that. Email spam targets individual users with direct mail messages. Email spam lists are often created by scanning Usenet postings, stealing Internet mailing lists, or searching the Web for addresses. Email spams typically cost users money out-of-pocket to receive. Many people - anyone with measured phone service - read or receive their mail while the meter is running, so to speak. Spam costs them additional money. On top of that, it costs money for ISPs and online services to transmit spam, and these costs are transmitted directly to subscribers.

The statistical approach is not usually the first one people try when they write spam filters. Most hackers' first instinct is to try to write software that recognizes individual properties of spam. You look at spams and you think, the gall of these guys to try sending me mail that begins Dear Friend or has a subject line that's all uppercase and ends in eight exclamation points. I can filter out that stuff with about one line of code.

But the real advantage of the Bayesian approach, of course, is that you know what you're measuring. Feature-recognizing filters like SpamAssassin assign a spam score to email. The Bayesian approach assigns an actual probability. The problem with a score is that no one knows what it means. The user doesn't know what it means, but worse still, neither does the developer of the filter. How many points should an email get for having the word sex in it? A probability can of course be mistaken, but there is little ambiguity about what it means, or how evidence should be combined to calculate it. Based on my corpus, sex indicates a .97 probability of the containing email being a spam, whereas sexy indicates .99 probability. And Bayes' Rule, equally unambiguous, says that an email containing both words would, in the (unlikely) absence of any other evidence, have a 99.97% chance of being a spam.

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