"Well, what've you got?" asked the customer. The waiter replied "Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;"

This is the famous Monty Python’s sketch from 70s that was the inspired the name of the unexpected, undesirable electronic messages in our inbox. Many people, moreover non British ones, don’t know why they call it SPAM, so by the end of this article you will know –almost- all about SPAM, and I am not only talking about messages! Here we go!

SPAM is actually a canned meat that was very famous food among British and Russian soldiers on the Second World War. It was easy to carry and very easy to cook. Try yourself, just go to your nearest supermarket and –if you live in the UK- you will spot it easily in the canned meats aisle. Then try some delicious recipes with SPAM.

The guys from Monty Python did it know very well, and that’s why the waiter makes a full menu selection with a few ingredients and lots of SPAM. That is SPAM too, SPAM as stuffing and something to make noise.

Trash mail was born on the 5th March 1994. That day a law firm, Cartel & Siegel, published on Usenet a message advertising itself. They made lots of profit thank to this SPAM and since then emailing has been used as a powerful marketing tool.

Other people say the very first origin was the 3rd May 1978 when 393 employees from Arpanet – antecessor of the Internet – received an unexpected mail from DEC computers to offer them their new product.

Since then lots of different products and services have been offered via SPAM, sorry, I meant email. Here you have some examples:

  • Cheap high speed broadband.
  • Breast growing pills.
  • Penis enlargement pills.
  • Pills to enhance your sexual performance.
  • Amazing jobs to become a millionaire in a few weeks.
  • People looking for investors to become a millionaire in a few days.
  • Someone that believes you are the only alive inheritor of an important Nigerian business man who has just died.
  • Sexual encounters.

Well… apparently things advertised on the SPAM inbox don’t look bad at all. In fact they look like very interesting offers that only want to satisfy the most important needs of people; Money and sex. So, why do those offers are considered as SPAM or something to be protected from? Because they want something from you, for example:

  • Make a zombie of your computer to use it for their cyber-criminal purposes.
  • Spy your sensitive information to sell it to third parties.
  • Install malware in your computer to blackmail or extortionate you in somehow.
  • Lead you to a fake site to take your information.
  • Your money.

You are probably asking yourself "how in the world they did they get my email address?" They get your contact information in many ways:

  • Using programs that crawl the Internet searching for email addresses.
  • Mailing lists.
  • Usenet news groups.
  • The CC field of viral messages.
  • Websites that ask you for your email or your friends.
  • WHOIS databases.
  • Malware that captures your activity and email addresses you send messages.
  • Trial and error: Trying to guess common usernames on known domains and checking their server responses.

Now you know what it is, and the reason SPAM is so dangerous, let’s talk about what you can do to reduce your SPAM inbox and prevent it from ruining your day:

  • Use a complicated email username, so you won’t be easily reach by trial and error.
  • Create a second email address to use with forums, newsletters and other websites around the Internet.
  • Do a double check to email headers to be sure it is coming from what it says to come from.
  • Disguise your email address when showing it in site comments, messages or even in your website. Here you have some suggestions: username at server dot com, username (at) server.com, username (don’t SPAM me!) server (dot) com.
  • Ask your friend politely not to include you in their chain messages.
  • Never, ever click on any link on any SPAM message. That can infect your computer straight away.
  • Never, ever open any attachment on a suspicious email.
  • Never, ever reply a suspicious message.
  • Never, ever buy anything from a spammer. If you need a medicine go to your local pharmacy.
  • Use a SPAM filter in the case you are using a desktop mail client, or use your server filters if you use a web based client.
  • Check your public profiles to be sure your email is not being published.
  • If you have doubts about a message just report it to your IT department if you are using your work email address, or just delete it straight away if you are using your personal one.

And that is SPAMalot about SPAM, I hope you SPAMjoy this SPAMticle about SPAM and next SPAMtime you receive a SPAM message or something SPAMpicious you know what SPAM to do and not. SPAM is everySPAMwhere and we SPAM cannot avoid it SPAMpletely, but at least weSPAM can prevent SPAM to ruin our SPAMday.

Keep it secure!