What is Spam

Spam is a term that most people are familiar with, but do you really know what it means? In this article, we will explore the basics of spam, including what it is, how it differs from direct email marketing, and the dangers of spam. By the end, you will have a better understanding of this common internet nuisance.

The Definition of Spam

According to the Oxford Dictionary, spam is defined as “irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the internet, typically to a large number of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware, etc.”

In simpler terms, spam is any unwanted or unsolicited message that is sent to a large number of people. This can include emails, text messages, social media messages, and more.

The Origin of the Term “Spam”

The term “spam” actually originated from a Monty Python sketch in which a group of Vikings repeatedly chant the word “spam” while a couple tries to order food. This sketch was later referenced in the early days of the internet when users would flood chat rooms and forums with the word “spam” to disrupt conversations.

How is Spam Different from Direct Email Marketing?

While spam and direct email marketing may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two.

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Direct Email Marketing

Direct email marketing is a legitimate marketing strategy used by businesses to reach potential customers. This involves sending targeted emails to individuals who have opted in to receive communication from the company.

These emails are typically personalized and contain relevant information or promotions for the recipient. Direct email marketing is a permission-based form of marketing, meaning that the recipient has given consent to receive emails from the company.


On the other hand, spam is unsolicited and often sent to a large number of people without their consent. These messages are usually generic and not personalized, and often contain misleading or false information.

Spam is often sent by malicious actors with the intention of scamming or deceiving recipients. It is important to note that spam is illegal in many countries and can result in penalties for the sender.

The Dangers of Spam

Phishing Scams

One of the biggest dangers of spam is the potential for phishing scams. Phishing is a type of cyber attack in which the attacker poses as a legitimate entity in order to obtain sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card numbers.

Spam emails often contain links to fake websites that mimic legitimate ones, tricking users into entering their personal information. These scams can result in identity theft, financial loss, and other serious consequences.

Malware Distribution

Spam emails can also be used to distribute malware, which is any type of malicious software designed to harm a computer system. Malware can be hidden in attachments or links within spam emails, and can infect a user’s device if clicked on.

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Once infected, malware can cause a variety of issues, including data theft, system crashes, and more. It is important to never click on suspicious links or open attachments from unknown senders to avoid malware infections.

Overwhelming Inboxes

Aside from the potential dangers, spam can also be a nuisance by overwhelming inboxes and cluttering up email folders. This can make it difficult for users to find important emails and can also slow down email servers.

How to Protect Yourself from Spam

Use Spam Filters

Most email providers have built-in spam filters that automatically detect and filter out spam emails. These filters use algorithms to identify common characteristics of spam emails, such as certain keywords or suspicious links.

Make sure to regularly check your spam folder to ensure that legitimate emails are not being filtered out. You can also adjust your spam filter settings to be more or less strict, depending on your preferences.

Be Cautious of Suspicious Emails

Suspicious email

If you receive an email from an unknown sender or with a suspicious subject line, it is best to err on the side of caution and not open it. If the email is from a company or organization that you do not recognize, do not click on any links or open any attachments.

Additionally, be wary of emails that ask for personal information or contain urgent requests. These are often tactics used by scammers to trick users into giving away sensitive information.

Do Not Respond to Spam

Responding to spam emails, even to unsubscribe, can actually make the problem worse. This confirms to the sender that your email address is active and can result in even more spam being sent to your inbox.

It is best to simply delete spam emails without responding or clicking on any links.