The Curse of the 21st Century

This short article is all about the curse of the 21st Century – SPAM

Not one of my favourite food products, the excellent chopped pork and ham made by the Hormel Company – but those insidious e-mail messages that appear in your computers mail box, every minute of every hour of every day……

Many people seem to get a lot of Spam – 85% of all email sent is spam…!

So, what is Spam – its bulk e-mail or junk e-mail – identical messages sent to numerous recipients and the usual definition is “unsolicited commercial e-mail.”

E-mail started in 1965 as a way for academics and military personnel to communicate via their computers when they were directly linked to each other and the first spam messages appeared in 1978 sent to 600 addresses.

Nearly 40 years later we have approx 100 billion messages per day being sent – that’s a 1 with 11 zero’s.  (I sometimes feel they are all coming to me!  Although Bill Gates, head of Microsoft, receives 4 million messages a year and has a whole department just to filter them – but the guy who owns the domain acme.com receives 1 million messages per day.)

Spam come is many flavours – approx 25% is for products – mostly these days Viagra or equivalent – 20% financial – 20% adult and 10% scams including my favourite the Nigerian 419’s or the advance-fee fraud.

These are the ones you receive that tell you that someone has died and has a lot of money – usually $40m in a bank account somewhere – and need a reliable and honest  person to help recover the money……. But before we can get the money there are certain expenses that need to be paid out…….

You are all intelligent people and would never fall for a fraud like that would you?

In 2006 – £150 million was taken from UK citizens by this type of fraud – an average of £31,000 per person.

Then there are the phishing messages, that’s spelt with a PH – the one that appears to come from you bank and tell you there has been a security breach and you need to log in and reset your account details!

Remember – banks will never, never ask for your information especially your User Name and Password over the Internet.

Most spam is harmless – an irritation – but harmless, however since 2002 there have been more spamming viruses’ distributed.  These make infected computers available as spamming tools.  Basically it means that your computer sends out spam messages or viruses to all the people in your mail box……it’s self replicating….

So what can you do about it – firstly accept that spam is around and we have to live with it.

However, there are a number of things you must do to protect yourselves……

Firstly – ensure that you have a good spam filter on your computer – there are many around – Norton, McFee, and Kapersky are all Virus and Spam filters.  Ensure that you have all your incoming e-mail messages filtered…..

If you have a public e-mail address – hotmail or msn – they will have a spam filter on the mail server – so that a lot of the spam and viruses will have been deleted before you get to download them…..

Make sure that your spam filter is turned up to medium high – this will give you the most protection but without deleting genuine messages.

Turning up the filters too high can eliminate genuine messages……. Too low and you get inundated….

Next make sure your firewall is turned on – this stops any hackers getting in to your computer and helps to stop the spread of computer viruses…..

This article is to persuade and convince my readers to agree to a course of action.

The course of action I’m asking of you is – to stop sending me spam….!

Now you are all saying – I don’t send out spam – and of course you don’t…..

However, occasionally you may receive a message from a friend or work colleague that tells a story or appeals to your emotions – favourites are children hurt in Afghanistan or Iraq and have been befriended by UK or US soldiers and could you possible help to rebuild their lives, by sending a small contribution, say £5, to help them on the road to recovery – these are usually accompanied by some fairly horrific pictures…..

And the message also asks you to send it on to 100 people in your address book.

So you send a £5 – it’s not much is it ….. and you pass on the message.

If you send to 100 people, who each sent to 100 people, that equals 10,000 messages – if they each send it to 100 – 1,000,000 e-mail messages – all contributing to the spam problem.

These messages are the internet equivalent of the old chain letter and they work on peoples superstitions – bad luck if you break the chain and peoples symphony……..

If you ever get any of these type of messages, I would ask you to do 2 things – 1) please don’t send it to me and 2) please delete it!

I hope I’ve convinced you that Spam is a problem and that we can all try and diminish the problem by not contributing to it….

I’d like to leave by returning to where I started, with Spam, this wonderful and nutritious product from the Hormel company.  You’ll see that the image at the top of this article is the Light version – my wife thinks the original is too full of fat and salt – but to paraphrase the old Coca-Cola advert – It’s not the real thing.

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