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Quick Reference Guide 1 The first published book in Papua New Guinea on Information Technology

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Software Science

 

Spam

computer

SPAM

Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages (spam), especially advertising, indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam, mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions, social spam, television advertising and file sharing spam. It is named after Spam, a luncheon meat, by way of a Monty Python sketch in which Spam is included in every dish.[1]

Spamming remains economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings. Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. In the year 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet service providers, which have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions.[2]

A person who creates electronic spam is called a spammer.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spamming

In different media

Email

Main article: Email spam

Email spam, also known as unsolicited bulk Email (UBE), junk mail, or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is the practice of sending unwanted email messages, frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients. Spam in email started to become a problem when the Internet was opened up to the general public in the mid-1990s. It grew exponentially over the following years, and today composes some 80 to 85% of all the email in the world, by a “conservative estimate”.[4] Pressure to make email spam illegal has been successful in some jurisdictions, but less so in others. The efforts taken by governing bodies, security systems and email service providers seem to be helping to reduce the onslaught of email spam. According to “2014 Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 19″ published by Symantec Corporation, Spam volume dropped to 66% of all email traffic.[5] Spammers take advantage of this fact, and frequently outsource parts of their operations to countries where spamming will not get them into legal trouble.

Increasingly, email spam today is sent via “zombie networks”, networks of virus- or worm-infected personal computers in homes and offices around the globe. Many modern worms install a backdoor which allows the spammer to access the computer and use it for malicious purposes. This complicates attempts to control the spread of spam, as in many cases the spam does not obviously originate from the spammer. In November 2008 an ISP, McColo, which was providing service to botnet operators, was depeered and spam dropped 50%-75% Internet-wide. At the same time, it is becoming clear that malware authors, spammers, and phishers are learning from each other, and possibly forming various kinds of partnerships.

An industry of email address harvesting is dedicated to collecting email addresses and selling compiled databases.[6] Some of these address harvesting approaches rely on users not reading the fine print of agreements, resulting in them agreeing to send messages indiscriminately to their contacts. This is a common approach in social networking spam such as that generated by the social networking site Quechup.[7]

Instant messaging

Main article: Messaging spam

Instant messaging spam makes use of instant messaging systems. Although less ubiquitous than its e-mail counterpart, according to a report from Ferris Research, 500 million spam IMs were sent in 2003, twice the level of 2002. As instant messaging tends to not be blocked by firewalls, it is an especially useful channel for spammers. This is very common on many instant messaging systems such as Skype.

Newsgroup and forum

Main article: Newsgroup spam

Newsgroup spam is a type of spam where the targets are Usenet newsgroups. Spamming of Usenet newsgroups actually pre-dates e-mail spam. Usenet convention defines spamming as excessive multiple posting, that is, the repeated posting of a message (or substantially similar messages). The prevalence of Usenet spam led to the development of the Breidbart Index as an objective measure of a message’s “spamminess”.

Main article: Forum spam

Forum spam is the creating of messages that are advertisements on Internet forums. It is generally done by automated spambots. Most forum spam consists of links to external sites, with the dual goals of increasing search engine visibility in highly competitive areas such as weight loss, pharmaceuticals, gambling, pornography, real estate or loans, and generating more traffic for these commercial websites. Some of these links contain code to track the spambot’s identity; if a sale goes through, the spammer behind the spambot works on commission.

Mobile phone

Main article: Mobile phone spam

Mobile phone spam is directed at the text messaging service of a mobile phone. This can be especially irritating to customers not only for the inconvenience but also because of the fee they may be charged per text message received in some markets. The term “SpaSMS” was coined at the adnews website Adland in 2000 to describe spam SMS. To comply with CAN-SPAM regulations, now SMS messages have to have the options of HELP and STOP, the latter to end communication with the advertising spam altogether.

Social networking spam

Facebook and Twitter are not immune to messages containing spam links. Most insidiously, spammers hack into accounts and send false links under the guise of a user’s trusted contacts such as friends and family.[8] As for Twitter, spammers gain credibility by following verified accounts such as that of Lady Gaga; when that account owner follows the spammer back, it legitimizes the spammer and allows him or her to proliferate.[9] Twitter has studied what interest structures allow their users to receive interesting tweets and avoid spam, despite the site using the broadcast model, in which all tweets from a user are broadcast to all followers of the user.[10]

Social spam

Spreading beyond the centrally managed social networking platforms, user-generated content increasingly appears on business, government, and nonprofit websites worldwide. Fake accounts and comments planted by computers programmed to issue social spam can infiltrate these websites.[11] Well-meaning and malicious human users can break websites’ policies by submitting profanity,[12] insults,[13] hate speech, and violent messages.

Online game messaging

Many online games allow players to contact each other via player-to-player messaging, chat rooms, or public discussion areas. What qualifies as spam varies from game to game, but usually this term applies to all forms of message flooding, violating the terms of service contract for the website. This is particularly common in MMORPGs where the spammers are trying to sell game-related “items” for real-world money, chiefly among them being in-game currency.

Spam targeting search engines (spamdexing)

Main article: Spamdexing

Spamdexing (a portmanteau of spamming and indexing) refers to a practice on the World Wide Web of modifying HTML pages to increase the chances of them being placed high on search engine relevancy lists. These sites use “black hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques” to deliberately manipulate their rank in search engines. Many modern search engines modified their search algorithms to try to exclude web pages utilizing spamdexing tactics. For example, the search bots will detect repeated keywords as spamming by using a grammar analysis. If a website owner is found to have spammed the webpage to falsely increase its page rank, the website may be penalized by search engines.

Blog, wiki, and guestbook

Main article: Spam in blogs

Blog spam, or “blam” for short, is spamming on weblogs. In 2003, this type of spam took advantage of the open nature of comments in the blogging software Movable Type by repeatedly placing comments to various blog posts that provided nothing more than a link to the spammer’s commercial web site.[14] Similar attacks are often performed against wikis and guestbooks, both of which accept user contributions. Another possible form of spam in blogs is the spamming of a certain tag on websites such as Tumblr.

Pre-Internet

In the late 19th Century Western Union allowed telegraphic messages on its network to be sent to multiple destinations. The first recorded instance of a mass unsolicited commercial telegram is from May 1864, when some British politicians received an unsolicited telegram advertising a dentistry shop.[20]

Etymology

According to the Internet Society and other sources, the term spam is derived from the 1970 Spam sketch of the BBC television comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.[21] The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes Spam canned luncheon meat. As the waiter recites the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… lovely Spam! wonderful Spam!”, hence “Spamming” the dialogue.[22] The excessive amount of Spam mentioned in the sketch is a reference to the preponderance of imported canned meat products in the United Kingdom, particularly a brand of tinned pork and ham (SPAM) from the USA, in the years after World War II, as the country struggled to rebuild its agricultural base. Spam captured a large slice of the British market within lower economic classes and became a byword among British children of the 1960s[citation needed] for low-grade fodder due to its commonality, monotonous taste and cheap price — hence the humour of the Python sketch.

In the 1980s the term was adopted to describe certain abusive users who frequented BBSs and MUDs, who would repeat “Spam” a huge number of times to scroll other users’ text off the screen.[23] In early chat rooms services like PeopleLink and the early days of Online America (later known as America Online or AOL), they actually flooded the screen with quotes from the Monty Python Spam sketch.[citation needed] With internet connections over phone lines, typically running at 1200 or even 300 bit/s, it could take an enormous amount of time for a spammy logo, drawn in ASCII art to scroll to completion on a viewer’s terminal. Sending an irritating, large, meaningless block of text in this way was called spamming. This was used as a tactic by insiders of a group that wanted to drive newcomers out of the room so the usual conversation could continue. It was also used to prevent members of rival groups from chatting—for instance, Star Wars fans often invaded Star Trek chat rooms, filling the space with blocks of text until the Star Trek fans left.[24] This act, previously called flooding or trashing, came to be known as spamming.[25] The term was soon applied to a large amount of text broadcast by many users.

It later came to be used on Usenet to mean excessive multiple posting—the repeated posting of the same message. The unwanted message would appear in many if not all newsgroups, just as Spam appeared in nearly all the menu items in the Monty Python sketch. The first usage of this sense was by Joel Furr[26] in the aftermath of the ARMM incident of March 31, 1993, in which a piece of experimental software released dozens of recursive messages onto the news.admin.policy newsgroup.[27] This use had also become established—to spam Usenet was flooding newsgroups with junk messages. The word was also attributed to the flood of “Make Money Fast” messages that clogged many newsgroups during the 1990s.[citation needed] In 1998, the New Oxford Dictionary of English, which had previously only defined “spam” in relation to the trademarked food product, added a second definition to its entry for “spam”: “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users.”[28]

There was also an effort to differentiate between types of newsgroup spam. Messages which were crossposted to too many newsgroups at once – as opposed to those that were posted too frequently – were called velveeta (after a cheese product). But this term didn’t persist.[29]

History

Earliest documented spam (although the term had not yet been coined[30]) was a message advertising the availability of a new model of Digital Equipment Corporation computers sent by Gary Thuerk to 393 recipients on ARPANET in 1978.[26] Rather than send a separate message to each person, which was the standard practice at the time, he had an assistant, Carl Gartley, write a single mass e-mail. Reaction from the net community was fiercely negative, but the spam did generate some sales.[31][32]

Spamming had been practiced as a prank by participants in multi-user dungeon games, to fill their rivals’ accounts with unwanted electronic junk.[32] The first known electronic chain letter, titled Make Money Fast, was released in 1988.

The first major commercial spam incident started on March 5, 1994, when a husband and wife team of lawyers, Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, began using bulk Usenet posting to advertise immigration law services. The incident was commonly termed the “Green Card spam”, after the subject line of the postings. Defiant in the face of widespread condemnation, the attorneys claimed their detractors were hypocrites or “zealouts”, claimed they had a free speech right to send unwanted commercial messages, and labeled their opponents “anti-commerce radicals.” The couple wrote a controversial book entitled How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway.[32]

Within a few years, the focus of spamming (and anti-spam efforts) moved chiefly to e-mail, where it remains today.[23] Arguably, the aggressive email spamming by a number of high-profile spammers such as Sanford Wallace of Cyber Promotions in the mid-to-late 1990s contributed to making spam predominantly an email phenomenon in the public mind.[citation needed] By 2009, the majority of spam sent around the world was in the English language; spammers began using automatic translation services to send spam in other languages.

In crime

Spam can be used to spread computer viruses, trojan horses or other malicious software. The objective may be identity theft, or worse (e.g., advance fee fraud). Some spam attempts to capitalize on human greed whilst other attempts to use the victims’ inexperience with computer technology to trick them (e.g., phishing). On May 31, 2007, one of the world’s most prolific spammers, Robert Alan Soloway, was arrested by U.S. authorities.[47] Described as one of the top ten spammers in the world, Soloway was charged with 35 criminal counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.[47] Prosecutors allege that Soloway used millions of “zombie” computers to distribute spam during 2003.[citation needed] This is the first case in which U.S. prosecutors used identity theft laws to prosecute a spammer for taking over someone else’s Internet domain name.[citation needed]

In an attempt to assess potential legal and technical strategies for stopping illegal spam, a study from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Berkeley, “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain” (PDF), cataloged three months of online spam data and researched website naming and hosting infrastructures. The study concluded that: 1) half of all spam programs have their domains and servers distributed over just 8% or fewer of the total available hosting registrars and Autonomous Systems. Overall, 80% of spam programs are distributed over just 20% of all registrars and Autonomous Systems; 2) of the 76 purchases for which the researchers received transaction information, there were only 13 distinct banks acting as credit card acquirers and only three banks provided the payment servicing for 95% of the spam-advertised goods in the study; and, 3) a “financial blacklist” of banking entities that do business with spammers would dramatically reduce monetization of unwanted emails. Moreover, this blacklist could be updated far more rapidly than spammers could acquire new banking resources, an asymmetry favoring anti-spam efforts.

 

 

 

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