When spam doesn’t take the hint

Spam. No, not the stuff you find in on supermarket shelves. We’re talking the email variety – the ones that try and palm off unwanted things to you. And how do you become the unlucky recipient of the things? It’s usually when you’ve either ticked or not ticked a box on a dodgy website or when a spambot (software that searches for email address online) snatches your email address from a website. Unlucky you.

So what’s being done to drive these emails away? For a start, email
addresses are disappearing from people’s websites and online forms are
replacing contact details. Filtering out any emails with certain words can also do the trick, but something this simple can cause real emails to be labeled as spam. And you wouldn’t want that would you?

Clever filters, ones that deserve master’s degrees, also search for words that tend to match spam vocabulary. These words can then be stored on a database of similar words and used in the fight against future emails. But true to form, those crafty spammers are bypassing these filters by using plenty of ‘good’ words. Need an old-fashioned clip round the ear don’t they?

Good news isn’t far away though. Researchers have found ways around new spam techniques, such as image spam (where there is no text to filter) which assesses the email content by the properties of the image. Colour being one of the things. Spam is pulled apart on this site: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/spam.htm

Another form of spam is phishing. This is when things get more serious. See these emails have the sole objective of getting you to reveal your bank details.
The dirty truth is here: www.cmu.edu/news/archive/2007/October/oct2_phishing.shtml

To join the fight against spam you might want to be:

  • An administrative assistant you would be in the front line of receiving emails which have eluded spam filters
  • personal assistant you may be faced with spam as your organise and reply to emails for senior management
  • network manager you would have to control the spam filters, checking that they are kept up to date to reduce the amount of spam reaching employees
  • technical support person helping computer users control and understand spam emails and how to protect themselves against them

Reduce the amount of unwanted information sent to people as:

  • software developer creating new software and new techniques to filter out spam while letting genuine emails through
  • statistician researching the content of spam and devising ways to distinguish between spam and real emails
  • web designer designing websites which don’t allow people access to email address while still allowing people to easily contact the necessary people

You may also like to have a look at the BigAmbition website for more information on IT and Digital Careers.