Email spam, also called junk email, refers to unsolicited bulk messages which are sent over email. A common problem faced by most people with an email ID, it gained popularity in the nineties.
To obtain the email IDs to which spam emails are sent, Spambots are used. These are automated programs that trawl the internet looking for addresses to send spam to. After accumulating enough email IDs, the spambots curate a list of emails to target. A single spam email is typically sent to millions of email IDs at a time. Since the chances of the recipients interacting with it are low, maximum numbers are targeted to get a response.
The word "spam" is derived from a Monty Python sketch. A sketch done in the early 70s, there were a lot of iterations of the same Hormel canned meat product. It eventually became popular even outside research and academic circles.
Why do people spend spam email?
So, if spam is bad for business, even people who receive it don't like it and there are laws against it. Then why do people still send it?
Well, there are two types of spam emails: the one sent by the marketers and the one sent by scammers.
The only logical explanation why marketers send is that they don't understand that marketing requires you to build trust. No one is going to buy from you if you throw things in their face, without permission. They are looking for short-term, get-rich quick tricks. Their objective is to send it to millions of people and out of that even if 0.1% check their emails and buy, they will be happy.
People who are not marketers, send spam emails to do frauds, cheat or mislead someone. Their aim is to get access to your personal information or ask you to send money to their accounts etc.
Is spam email dangerous?
Spam email is usually unsolicited email so you don't know if it came from a legit company/contact or some fraudster trying to get access to your personal information.
It can be something that downloads a virus to your computer with an attachment or link that you click.
Sometimes, a spam email can contain links that might be potentially dangerous. So it's best to not open emails where you don't know who sent it . If you open such emails and sense something fishy, just trash them and block the contact.
The spam sent by marketers is not dangerous but it's surely irritating and time-consuming.
Types of Spam
Spam can arrive from anyone, ranging from legitimate business organisations to outright scams to take advantage of susceptible users. In most cases, spam is used to carry out some type of fraud or scam. The most common instance is where the sender asks the recipient for some monetary assistance. Phishing emails, where the emails are disguised as if the senders are banks or other official entities are also common. The best way to combat these would be to avoid opening them and clicking on any link within the email.
Here are the types of spam emails in detail:
These are the most common types of spam emails. These are sent by companies trying to sell their services or products to you. What they are selling might be legal but the way they are approaching you is not. According to law, people can't send you email if you have not opted in to receive it from them.
These are emails where the sender asks you to forward it to other people and scares you by saying that if you don't send, something bad might happen to you.
The purpose of these emails is just to spread some message or virus to a large number of people by using your network. Next time, trash these and block the contacts.
These emails often claim to send you gifts (expensive gifts!) in exchange for a smaller amount of money in advance. But of course, there is no gift at the end.
Sometimes, these emails also ask for money for a charity that doesn't exit.
These emails usually have links that are shortened so you don't know the URL. When clicked they take you to a page that looks like the page of a legit company. There, they will try to get you to fill some personal details like password or credit card numbers.
They basically try to impersonate a company or contact you know.