In the early 1980s, companies that bulk-mailed unsolicited advertising material routinely referred to it as
their acronym for
"Sales Promotion and Marketing"
Spam can be used to spread computer viruses, trojan horses or other malicious software. The objective may be identity theft, or worse
(e.g., advance fee fraud).
Some spam attempts to capitalize on human greed whilst other attempts to use the victims' inexperience with computer technology to trick them (e.g., phishing).
On May 31, 2007,
one of the world's most prolific spammers, Robert Alan Soloway, was arrested by U.S. authorities. Described as one of the top ten spammers in the world, Soloway was charged with 35 criminal counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
Prosecutors allege that Soloway used millions of "zombie" computers to distribute spam during 2003.
This is the first case in which U.S. prosecutors used identity theft laws to prosecute a spammer for taking over someone else's
Internet domain name.
In an attempt to assess potential legal and technical strategies for stopping illegal spam, a study from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Berkeley, “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain”, cataloged three months of online spam data and researched website naming and hosting infrastructures.
The study concluded that:
1) half of all spam programs have their domains and servers distributed over just 8% or fewer of the total available hosting registrars and Autonomous Systems. Overall, 80% of spam programs are distributed over just 20% of all registrars and Autonomous Systems; 2) of the 76 purchases for which the researchers received transaction information, there were only 13 distinct banks acting as credit card acquirers and only three banks provided the payment servicing for 95% of the spam-advertised goods in the study; and, 3) a “financial blacklist” of banking entities that do business with spammers would dramatically reduce monetization of unwanted emails. Moreover, this blacklist could be updated far more rapidly than spammers could acquire new banking resources, an asymmetry favoring anti-spam efforts.
Professor Annie Finch Reads Her Poem
to a delighted audience, while struggling
through waves of laughter