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E-mail spam - spam viruses

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E-mail spam
Mozilla Thunderbird email application detecting spam messages. Spammers frequently disguise their messages with obfuscated text.E-mail spam, also known as "bulk e-mail" or "junk e-mail," is a subset of spam that involves nearly identical messages sent to numerous recipients by e-mail.

 

 


 

A common synonym for spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE). Definitions of spam usually include the aspects that email is unsolicited and sent in bulk. "UCE" refers specifically to "unsolicited commercial e-mail."

E-mail spam slowly but exponentially grew for several decades to several billion messages a day. Spam has frustrated, confused, and annoyed e-mail users. Laws against spam have been sporadically implemented, with some being opt-out and others requiring opt in e-mail. The total volume of spam (over 100 billion emails per day as of April 2008) has leveled off slightly in recent years, and is no longer growing exponentially. The amount received by most e-mail users has decreased, mostly because of better filtering.
 

About 80% of all spam is sent by fewer than 200 spammers. Botnets, networks of virus-infected computers, are used to send about 80% of spam. The cost of spam is borne mostly by the recipient, so it is a form of postage due advertising.

E-mail addresses are collected from chatrooms, websites, newsgroups, and viruses which harvest users' address books, and are sold to other spammers. Much of spam is sent to invalid e-mail addresses. ISPs have attempted to recover the cost of spam through lawsuits against spammers, although they have been mostly unsuccessful in collecting damages despite winning in court.


Types of spam

Spam has several definitions, varying by the source.
Unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE)—unsolicited e-mail, sent in large quantities.
Unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE)—this more restrictive definition is used by regulators whose mandate is to regulate commerce, such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Any email message that is fraudulent.
Any email message where the sender’s identity is forged, or messages sent though unprotected SMTP servers, unauthorized proxies, or botnets (see Theft of service below).

stop email spammers,stop email spam,block junk email

Spamvertised sites
Many spam e-mails contain URLs to a website or websites. According to a Commtouch report in June 2004, "only five countries are hosting 99.68% of the global spammer websites", of which the foremost is China, hosting 73.58% of all web sites referred to within spam.

Most common products advertised
According to information compiled by Spam-Filter-Review.com, E-mail spam for 2006 can be broken down as follows.


Anti-spam techniques
Main article: Anti-spam techniques (e-mail)
The U.S. Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) has provided specific countermeasures against electronic mail spamming.

Some popular methods for filtering and refusing spam include e-mail filtering based on the content of the e-mail, DNS-based blackhole lists (DNSBL), greylisting, spamtraps, Enforcing technical requirements of e-mail (SMTP), checksumming systems to detect bulk email, and by putting some sort of cost on the sender via a Proof-of-work system or a micropayment. Each method has strengths and weaknesses and each is controversial due to its weaknesses.

One method employed involves using a white list of email addresses. For example, the owner of the email account can set the server to only allow emails from senders that are in the owner's addressbook. This is often used in combination with methods to give new senders an opportunity to request inclusion in the owner's addressbook.
 

For example:
1. All email originating from senders not in the addressbook are sent an automatic response stating that their email has not reached the recipient (ie. the email account owner).
2. The sender is given the option of sending the recipient an addressbook inclusion request via an online form.
3. The online form includes a captcha to only allow requests from human (non-computer-automated) sources.
4. If the recipient (account owner) approves the request, current and future email from the sender reaches the recipient with no further filtering.
Yahoo dropped a similar feature from their webmail service in 2005.

Anti-spam techniques should not be employed on abuse@ email addresses, as is commonly the case. The result of this is that when people attempt to report spam to a host, the spam message is caught in the spam filter and the host remains unaware that their network is being exploited by spammers.

Spammer viruses

In 2003, spam investigators saw a radical change in the way spammers sent spam. Rather than searching the global network for exploitable services such as open relays and proxies, spammers began creating "services" of their own. By commissioning computer viruses designed to deploy proxies and other spam-sending tools, spammers could harness hundreds of thousands of end-user computers. The widespread change from Windows 9x to Windows XP for many home computers, which started in early 2002 and was well under way by 2003, greatly accelerated the use of home computers to act as remotely-controlled spam proxies. The original version of Windows XP as well as XP-SP1 had several major vulnerabilities that allowed the machines to be compromised over a network connection without requiring actions on the part of the user or owner. While Windows 2000 had similar vulnerabilities, that operating system was never widely used on home computers.

Most of the major Windows e-mail viruses of 2003, including the Sobig and Mimail virus families, functioned as spammer viruses: viruses designed expressly to make infected computers available as spamming tools.

Besides sending spam, spammer viruses serve spammers in other ways. Beginning in July 2003, spammers started using some of these same viruses to perpetrate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks upon DNSBLs and other anti-spam resources. Although this was by no means the first time that illegal attacks have been used against anti-spam sites, it was perhaps the first wave of effective attacks.

In August of that year, engineering company Osirusoft ceased providing DNSBL mirrors of the SPEWS and other blocklists, after several days of unceasing attack from virus-infected hosts. The very next month, DNSBL operator Monkeys.com succumbed to the attacks as well. Other DNSBL operators, such as Spamhaus, have deployed global mirroring and other anti-DDoS methods to resist these attacks.

Zombie networks are particularly active in North America where about half of the Internet users are on a broadband connection and many leave their computers on all the time. In January, 2008, 8% of all e-mail spam was sent by the Storm botnet, created by the Storm Worm, first released in January, 2007. It is estimated that as many as 1 million or more computers have been infected and their owners are unwilling and unknowing participants. In the 3rd quarter of 2008 almost one in every 400 email messages contained a dangerous attachment, designed to infect the recipient’s computer, eight times as often as in the previous quarter


Sources:www.wikipedia.com
More about emal spam
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