Symantec, a well-known cyber security provider, estimates that spam accounts for an estimated 80% of all email globally.  Other estimates are even higher! (http://us.norton.com/spam-spam-go-away/article)

Spam – email spam — is unsolicited email.   Unsolicited?  What does that mean?  It means you received it even though you never requested it.  It is equivalent to paper junk mail in your house mail box.  Spam, like junk mail, is a nuisance.

However, unlike junk mail, spam can be dangerous.  More on the dangers in just a moment….

Why is there so much spam?

There is so much spam because spam is $$$ PROFITABLE $$$ to spammers.

Consider this–the cost to send electronic junk mail is small in comparison to mailing paper junk mail.  There is a low conversion rate for spam (mail to sale rate), but the profits make it worthwhile to spammers.  Here’s an example:

PCWorld.com reported in 2008 about the Viagra spam campaign sent out by the Storm spam network (a specific network of hacked and infected computers – see my blog about bot nets).   Here are some stats about how profitable it was for that group:

  • Over the course of the spam campaigns, some 469 million e-mails were sent out, of which 350 million were pharmaceutical messages.
  • 10,522 users visited the site, but only 28 people tried to make a purchase, a response rate of .0000081 percent.”
  • “However, a very low conversion rate does not necessarily imply low revenue or profitability,” the researchers wrote.  The average purchase price was $100.”
  • Calculating how much pharmaceutical spam Storm sends out daily, “revenue could top $7,000 per day. Per year, revenue would hit $3.5 million.”   (http://www.pcworld.com/article/153575/viagra_spam_study.html)
  • That’s just ONE campaign…  More than chump change, don’t you think?  Profitable?  Quite….

So why is spam dangerous?

Using the Viagra spam example, here are some ways spam can be dangerous:

  • “In March 2011, Pfizer Global Security conducted a study to see how many top ranking online pharmacies were selling counterfeit VIAGRA. Approximately 80% OF SITES surveyed claiming to sell VIAGRA were selling fakes.” (http://www.viagra.com/buy-real-viagra/online-pharmacies.aspx)
  • Counterfeit and fake products can be dangerous to your health and pocketbook!
  • This particular campaign also —
    • infected computers,  (more zombie computers – remote controlled by bot net herders)
    • got your email address to sell to other spammers (another profit source for spammers)
    • got your credit card number.

Can I stop spam from coming to my mail box?

A very qualified YES.  You can, with best practices, minimize the amount arriving in your electronic mail box and moreso, minimize the risks to you.   But that’s a lengthy, albeit critical discussion that will be covered in another blog

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