Spam

What is spam?

Spam is unsolicited emails, most often sent in bulk, and is the electronic equivalent of junk mail.

How do users end up on a spam list?

Email addresses are most frequently harvested from security breaches (i.e. users signed up for a service, and that company’s servers got hacked) or through the purchase of email lists from companies that users have an account with. Alternatively, hackers have also been targeting large email service providers with malware in an attempt to get ahold of their email lists.

Spam can be a lucrative industry, with large volumes of emails being sent out at relatively little cost to the spammers. At best, spam is an irritant, at worst, a security risk:

  • Spam crowds inboxes, wasting users’ time.
  • Spam can be used to distribute malware
  • Spam can be a means of acquiring further confidential details (i.e. phishing)
  • Spam can be used to disseminate scams (the famous Nigerian Prince scam)

How to block spam

Most online email providers now automatically offer an integrated anti-spam filter. For web-hosting providers, for whom spam presents an extensive challenge, there are professional solutions such as Avira Secure Email.

The Avira Security Wordbook

Search our threat glossary for clarifications on frequently used terms in IT security.