What's the Point of Spam

Written by Yaron Schoen February 05, 2010

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I don't get it. Am I missing something here or is spam just an annoying thing that has no real good reason for its existence? I am definitely not new to the internet, but in my 11 years in this industry, I never really gave it that much thought. Lately many questions arose in my head. Why does spam exist? What is its actual purpose? I am assuming spam would not exist if there was no money in it for the spammers, and if there was, how is this money actually made? With estimates that 84-95% of all e-mail in the world consists of generous millionaires that want to shell out cash, and sex hungry enlargement notifications, there has to be some good reason behind it all. No?

Comment Spam

Many of you may have noticed (hopefully many of you have not) I have been attacked lately by comment spam on my blog. Maybe attacked isn't the right word, more like bombarded. This is understandable if the spam is related to the topic of the blog post, but I am taking a wild guess here that my readers are not that interested in buying Viagra and even if they were, I don't think that my blog would be the right place for one to look for it. Let's even go a step further and pretend that Viagra IS relevant to my readers. I believe that getting it by clicking on a link named xsuzket.com in a comment is a bit sketchy... If I was looking to spend money on Viagra, would I really be interested in giving my credit card details to anyone but viagra.com? I understand that comment spammers try to raise their ranking by spreading their "love" throughout the interwebs. But is that the sole reason? If so can they try to make it look a bit more appealing and a little less crude? I mean guys, put some effort into the way the comment looks...

Email Spam

Here is a quick info-graphic that I created based on McAfee's 2009 Q2 Threat Report.

If there is a somewhat logical reason behind comment spam, here is a real incomprehensible gem: The "You Have Won A Billion Dollars" email. Is it really worth spending all that time and money sending this spam? Don't we as a public know better then to give our bank info, social security number, date of birth and favorite color to some random dude in Africa that inherited a zillion dinaros? I mean, even Oprah warned us about this already! Let's say the spammers find the one person in America who still hasn't heard about this trick, I would assume this person would be experiencing some kind of financial difficulty to willingly give his or her bank details to someone they don't know. It seems that the chances are low to find any kind of money in that account... Call this another wild guess, but I find it hard to believe that Bill Gates (or some other super rich person) would feel comfortable giving his bank account info to his own accountants without a full background check and over protective contracts, let alone to some guy he never heard of in Zair. So what do these spammers aim to achieve?

What's My Point?

I guess I don't really have a point in this post and I am just letting out steam (as I said before, lately the spammers have been out to get me. 45 spam comments last night alone!). Maybe what I am trying to say here is that even though there may be logic behind comment spam and very little logic behind email spam, it seems a bit exaggerated that there is SO much of it out there. As of today I am protected by Akismet & Low NoSpam, the spam filter plugin. That said, lets wait and see how many spam comments I get this time.

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Written in New York. © 2013