Why is it necessary to combat spam? Spam started a number of years ago with modest advertising mailings, which over time, have developed into a serious technical, economic and even social threat.
- Communications overload. Spam blocks communication channels and creates traffic which has to be paid for by either the provider or the user (or the employer in the case of a company). According to estimates by Alexander Ivanov, the President of the Russian Association of Networks and Services, three years ago Internet operators lost $55 million from the damage caused by spam. This figure represents traffic expenses alone. Additionally, there are mail servers which receive and process spam, and these servers have to be maintained by highly-paid specialists. Therefore there are substantial infrastructure running-costs also.
- Waste of time. If spam reaches a user’s inbox, a recipient has to delete it manually. A person who reads 10-20 emails per day may receive in the region of 160-180 spam messages along with their business correspondence. That means that they will spend 5-6 hours per month just deleting spam, to the detriment of their productive working time.
- Irritation and discontent. By having to manually delete spam, a user becomes an ‘electronic’ waste disposal technician. Being forced to take such measures cannot help but irritate the user, resulting in unwanted negative emotions.
- The loss of an important email that accidentally gets deleted along with the plethora of spam. Everyone who has faced such a situation at any time will immediately understand. No further comment required.
- Criminalization of spam.
Year after year, the advertising component that was the original purpose of spam degenerates further towards simple criminal opportunism. Since spam mailings are anonymous, their owners often cherish the illusion that they can operate with impunity.
The most popular types of blatantly criminal spam are Nigerian letters and phishing. Spammers have been most inventive in creating ever more attractive ‘bait’ for the user and seeking new targets for their attacks.
In addition, the services of the spammer are in constant demand by virus writers. Virus writers use spam mailings to distribute their latest creations, often placing links to infected sites within the mailing that are designed to lure the unwary user to click on them for one reason or another. A recipient of such spam thus runs the risk of their computer being infected by a malicious program.
According to the experts, the annual overall loss resulting from spam is estimated to be tens of billions of Dollars. As a result, anti-spam protection is not only desirable, but an urgent necessity. If spammer activity is not restricted, email could easily become a thing of the past, eclipsed by the overwhelming volume of spam.
In the modern world, anti-spam protection and antimalware protection have become an indispensible part of any IT security system.