Hacker X (Computer Security Expert) gives expert video advice on: Should I use the "unsubscribe" link on spam?; What is spam filtering software and could it solve my spam problem? and more...
What is "spam"?
Spam is unsolicited email. Basically, it's email that is sent to you by a company, service, or marketer, who's got your name off of some kind of list. Maybe you bought Pampers online and they got your email address; you're part of a list and that's sold to a company. So, spam is unsolicited, unwanted email that fills all of our mailboxes and is a real problem. Spam is not inherently bad, other than it takes up a lot of our time and a lot of our resources. When you look at the percentage of email that high-volume email users get, a huge percentage of it is spam. So, while it's not harmful, it's certainly not an effective use of one's time, it's not an effective use of bandwidth, and it's not an effective use of storage. It's unwanted material. It's much like the stuff that fills your mailbox. It's just wasteful. You don't want, you don't need it, and you didn't ask for it.
What is "bandwidth"?
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be sent or received between one computer or terminal and another. So, low bandwidth means very little information can be sent. High bandwidth means a lot of information can be sent. A text email requires very little bandwidth whereas a video requires a lot of bandwidth.
Should I use the "unsubscribe" link on spam?
With regards to an unsubscribe link on spam, sometimes in a spam message you're going to see a link at the bottom that says unsubscribe, while in theory and by law this is supposed to be a notification to the sender that you wish to be removed from this list, it's actually often a ploy to verify that you have an active email address. This computer scam is very difficult, if not impossible to tell whether or not it's a legitimate link or a scam. Again, one of the best ways is to contact the company that sent the email through one of their departments and to ask to be removed from the list, as that unsubscribe link is no guarantee that you will be.
What is spam filtering software and could it solve my spam problem?
Spam filtering software can help to alleviate your spam problems, probably not eliminate them. But spam filtering software uses a variety of techniques to make highly-educated guesses as to what might be a piece of spam versus a piece of mail that you're looking for. So some of the things it might look for are certain keywords: free, sex. Lots of different words like that and combinations of words that the variety of spam have. It might look at certain domains, the way certain domains are set. It might look at how the email is structured, that it's not just to you, it's to many different people. It might look at the body of the email. So it looks at a lot of different factors. And typically, it puts it in a special folder so that you can go and verify whether or not it's spam.
Where do spammers get my email address?
Spammers get your e-mail addresses from a lot of different sources. There are a lot of lists that can be purchased, but there are a lot of lists that could be free. There's a lot of places that your e-mail shows up that you don't think of, such as newsgroups, chatrooms, reviewing books on Amazon, things like that. So they have sophisticated software that peruses these sites and just gathers and collects these e-mail addresses, and that's how they collect them.