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SPAM (UCE) or Unwanted Email

What is SPAM?

SPAM® sometime known as UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) or UBE (Unsolicited Bulk Email) is any kind of unwanted unsolicited email usually of a commercial nature. The word SPAM is actually a trademark for a well known, and often maligned, processed pork meat product. For the purposes of this document the term SPAM refers to UBE/UCE.

A more practical (objective) definition of SPAM is email that is sent unsolicited and in bulk quantities to many recipients. An unsolicited email sent to one or a few people is not SPAM, only unsolicited. Email sent in bulk to users who have opted onto a list or similarly solicited, is only bulk email. See the SpamHaus definition of SPAM for a more complete description.

SPAM covers many subjects, not all of it commercial. Chain letters are still popular, but they pale in comparison to offers for Viagra®, mortgages, and pornography. The "Nigerian Scam" is another frequent visitor to SVPAL. Other forms are Phishing Scams, and Pump and Dump Scams.

SPAM appears in many forms from completely offensive to semi-legitimate. The semi-legitimate case is where someone has signed up for something on line and given permission (perhaps implicitly) to receive email messages. This is often the case for free services. It is also often the case that the user receives more then he/she expected. It gets worse. Some of these operations resell your information to others. Once in unscrupulous hands, your information is spread around without any possibility of control. Once you begin receiving SPAM, the problem generally only gets worse over time. Be careful about who gets your email address.

Unlike telemarketing, SPAMmers do not have a code of ethics and make little real effort to remove recipients from their lists. Most SPAM is sent using forged and invalid email addresses. This means replying to the email is of no use. The subject of such message is often misleading. Any offer to remove the recipient is often a ruse to validate your email address.

The volume of SPAM is incredible. On SVPAL alone our SPAM filters reject ~ 50,000 SPAM emails daily. This is over 95% of the email that is received by SVPAL.

Why do I get so much SPAM?

The reasons are varied, but here are few possible reasons:

  • You chose a previously owned email address that has been an SPAM target in the past.
  • You chose a very common email address (e.g. "bob"), that is commonly targeted for SPAM.
  • You participated in a newsgroup discussion and your email address was harvested by SPAM mail list providers.
  • You signed up for a free service in exchange for your email address and they added you to SPAM lists.
  • Your email address is culled from a web page.
  • Your email address was found by SPAMming random email addresses.
  • Your email was disclosed by a virus running on your's or a correspondent's computer.

SPAMmers have no scruples. They resell your information against your wishes. They ignore the law. They ignore removal requests. They retaliate if you complain. They forge email addresses to hide their true identities. They abuse the computer systems of unknowing victims to send their SPAM. They violate the anti-SPAM policies of the ISPs that provide their service. Some ISPs look the other way unless the level of complaints reaches a level that affects their business. Anything to make a buck.

Some SPAM is Virus Caused

Some SPAM is actually caused by Viruses. These viruses take advantage of bugs in Microsoft Outlook and other email software that launches the virus when attachments are opened or links are opened. These viruses forges sender addresses. The messages may appear authoritative sources. Install and use a virus scanner. Also, keep your computer up-to-date with the latest update from the OS vendor.

Many viruses since 2004 have been designed to leave back doors on the computers that they infect. These back doors can then be use to install software on these compromised computers. Software to monitor the computer user's activities, or provides a platform for sending SPAM, or to deploy denial of service attacks against major service providers such as Yahoo! Much of the SPAM sent on the Internet today is routed through these infected computers to make it more difficult to block it and to make it more difficult to track down the origin of such SPAM.

What SVPAL does about SPAM

SVPAL does not SPAM or provide your email address to SPAMmers. We do not condone SPAMmers and will terminate the account of any user caught SPAMming. Our mail servers are configured to prevent them from being used to send SPAM. This is why you must provide your SVPAL account and password information before sending as well as receiving email through SVPAL. This allows our system to validate you as a legitimate SVPAL user before accepting your outgoing email.

Our servers are configured to reject email from know SPAM sources. We utilize reputable SPAM blocklists and maintain an in-house blocklist of known SPAMmers. We reject email from these sources.

We have installed SpamAssassin software that allows users to further filter SPAM that has made it's way past our primary SPAM filter. SpamAssassin identifies SPAM by examining email for patterns that are common in SPAM email. It adds points for features that denote SPAM and subtracts points for features that denote non-SPAM email. If the final score is sufficiently high, the email is marked as SPAM in the Subject line with "[SPAM]". A report is included in the body of the email that shows how the scoring was done. You may use this information to help discard these messages. Some email software includes features that can automatically discard email tagged as SPAM.

You may choose to opt in or out of the SpamAssassin filtering using SVPAL's menus.

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Last Updated: Friday October 20, 2017
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