Feeds

Spam is 10

Many, many unhappy returns

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Today (5 March) marks the tenth anniversary of what is generally considered the first spam message.

On this day in 1994, US law firm Canter and Siegel posted a message on several Usenet newsgroups advertising its services to people interested in participating in the US Green Card lottery.

These days we'd barely bat an eyelid at such a message but at the time it was considered as appalling breach of "netiquette" - the unspoken rules of polite behaviour online. It was the cyber equivalent of trying to sell cellophane-wrapped roses in the middle of a crowded pub while the footy is on the TV.

When it became clear from Canter and Siegel's continued postings that their spams were being neither effectively blocked nor ignored, others soon latched onto the technique as a way of touting for business for (practically) nothing.

The wave of Usenet spam that followed effectively destroyed the usefulness of newsgroups. Bulk mailers then turned their attention to email as the next vector.

Fast forward 10 years and we have a seemingly endless stream of messages flogging loans, body part enhancement, xxx sites and worse.

"By daring to try what no one had done before, those first spam messages opened the floodgates to the deluge we battle daily," Netcraft notes.

According to stats from anti-spam outfit Brightmail, 62 per cent of email messages flowing across the Net last month was spam.

As security experts try to shut down their operations, spammers resort to ever more devious tactics. For instance, worms like SoBig and MyDoom are widely believed to have established a network of spam-sending Zombie machines.

Even if we can take some comfort from improvements in spam filtering techniques, the outlook is grim. It's reasonable to suppose that new forms of intrusive message (e.g. spam sent to mobile phones) will become more commonplace.

Hatred of spam is pretty well universal; but reducing the volume of junk mail down to background noise levels is proving to be one of the toughest challenges the Internet community has faced. It's a battle that simply must be won. ®

Related Stories

UUNet tops spammer-hosting super league
MS takes fight to the spammers
Spam villains: named and shamed
Trojans as spam robots: the evidence
UK Watchdog bites mobile spam scammers
The economics of spam

External Links

Monty Python (in)famous spam sketch

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?