Friday, December 30, 2011


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Spam is unsolicited junk E-mail that commercial companies send out asking you to buy their goods and services. At times it may contain inducements to visit the seller’s site. The E-mail usually contains a phone no to call, an address to send money to, or a website to visit to buy the goods and services.

Spam is sometimes termed as Unsolicited Bulk Email, or UBE, is the Internet mail (email) that is sent to a group of recipients who have not requested it. A mail recipient may have at one time asked a sender for bulk email, but then later asked that sender not to send any more email or otherwise not have indicated a desire for such additional mail; hence any bulk email sent after that request was received is also UBE.

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It was originally used to refer to unsolicited postings for commercial products or services on Usenet, especially when there were cross-posted to several newsgroups.

These spams cause many problems, mainly to the recipients, recipients’ destination operators, Internet backbone etc. Internet research company Jupiter Media Metrix predicts users will receive about 06 billion junk e-mailings by 006.

The spammers use no of ways to send the spam to our mailbox. They will get the email addresses of the people from different areas by different ways and they prepare a mailing list. Then a mail server will send these bulk mail to all the recipients in the mailing list.

There are many ways for blocking a spam, but none are very effective to be completely eradicating the spam from the network. The users have to be careful, not to register in any unauthorized sites and all. Nowadays laws are made against these spammers and we can even file case against the spammers.












What is a Spam?

Originally, Spam was (and still is) a tinned luncheon meat made by Hormel. Spam, in the Internet context, is used to describe the many copies of the same message, which flood the net in an attempt to force feed people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Spam can be either Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE) or postings of the same message to Usenet an excessive number of times or Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE). Also, more recently it is used to describe e-mails, which whilst not being commercial or spam in the traditional sense, can place a considerable load on the resources of the net usually e-mails with a pass it on theme.

What is Spamming?

Spamming is the sending of multiple or mass copies of either unsolicited or inappropriate letters. There are mainly two methods used when spamming newsgroup postings (known as Velveeta) and email messaging (known as Spam).

Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE) or Unsolicited Bulk E-mail (UBE)

Unsolicited You didnt ask for it

CommercialBulk Having profit as a primary aim rather than artistic valueNot a single or small group of recipients instead 10’s or thousands or millions

E-mail Electronic mail

The first version of the spam used the term Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE). That term was originally chosen because much of the early debate about UBE was centered in the United States where commercial speech can be regulated by the government but political and religious speech cannot. However, on reflection, because UBE is an international problem, the term UCE was changed in this report to UBE. Limitations on the control of UBE, such as having to have different laws for political UBE versus commercial UBE, will be a local matter.

UCE spam is advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. These products or services include Pyramid Selling, material of a sexual nature, and often spamming software itself (would you like to draw your product to the attention of 10,000 uninterested e-mail users?). When you open your e-mail you find youve been spammed with offers you didnt really want.

It is believed that the use of the term Spam in this context originates from the famous Monty Python sketch The Vikings, where Spam was everywhere and came with everything.

Usenet Spam

Usenet spam is a single message sent to many different Usenet newsgroups. Usually, any message, which has been posted, to many newsgroups are often not relevant to most or even all of them. Usenet Spam can be either of a commercial nature (selling something) or expressions of extreme (eg political, social) views - often pointing to web sites for further information.

Pass it on

Pass it on Spam is as much a nuisance as are the other types; a difference is that it is usually passed to you by someone you know, usually in ignorance rather than as a malicious act. Typical Pass it on e-mails include Hoax Virus warnings and gruesome (but true) stories

Some terms related to the topic are explained below

Destination Operator

Internet Email is processed by origination, relay and destination system (host) operators, primarily transmitting messages with the SMTP mail standard. An Origination Operator is an organization or individual that is responsible for the host which places a new piece of email into the Internet. A Relay Operator mediates email transmission between origination and destination systems. A Destination Operator is an organization or individual that maintains or controls a service for recipients of email and for allowing recipients to access their mail using a mail user agent. Destination Operators may also provide relay services and almost always provide origination service for the same users who are recipients.

A mail server that allows relaying processes an email message that neither originated from, nor sent to, a local user. The transaction has no legitimate reason to involve the mail server, which acts only as a relay point. Almost without exception, “spammers” are responsible.

These specialized terms are used here instead of the single, more common Internet Service Provider (ISP) because tens of millions of people get their mail service from organizations that are not ISPs. Almost everyone who gets email at their desk at work use their employers as a Destination Operator, but those companies are not ISPs. Also, many people get their Internet mail through free accounts in public libraries, schools, and so on, and the organizations running those mail servers should be differentiated from ISPs because they often are offering email access as a public service.

In many cases, ISPs which provide basic connectivity have no direct part in the problems associated with UBE. On the other hand, all Internet mail operators must deal with UBE problems every day. Hence, the terms introduced here include organizations providing Internet mail service to employees, as well as libraries and schools providing free service for their customers and also includes ISPs that include email within their set of products.


A recipient is a person who receives email. (Programs can also receive email, but they do so on behalf of a person.) Most recipients usually receive email from two kinds of senders other people, and Mailing List Agents. Some email addresses refer

to a role within the organization (such as sales or postmaster) and might have multiple people processing email sent to it, or might have a software program respond automatically. In either case, UBE must still be handled by the recipient.

Mailing List Agent

A Mailing List Agent (MLA) is a software program that acts like a recipient, but does special processing upon receiving email it resends the email to a list of recipients. Hence an MLA is a special form of email relay. Many MLAs are controlled by people, but some are completely automatic and involve no human intervention or decision-making.

MLAs are sometimes called mailing lists or mailing list managers, although these terms do not define well the roles of the controlling software or of the people involved in controlling the software. Other terms, such as listserv, are sometimes used generically but actually refer to specific implementations of MLAs.

Note that an MLA is not a recipient because it is not the final destination for the message, even though its email address might have been used for the UBE. Mail sent to an MLA will most likely be re-sent to many people, and those people are the recipients of the original mail, even though that mail has processed and re-sent by the MLA.


Although the senders of UBE defend it as having little difference from traditional bulk mail, it in fact is quite different UBE shifts almost all the costs of the message onto the recipients and their Destination Operators. The negative effects of UBE can be categorized into the effects on recipients, on the recipients Destination Operators, and on the Internet backbone in general. Secondary effects also are felt by Origination Operators.

Further, many senders of bulk UBE use tactics which are often viewed as devious, and probably illegal, in order to reduce the cost to the sender or even to hide the true identity of the sender. Instead, costs are shifted from the actual sender to the receiver and their Destination operator. These tactics, which are becoming more common, are described separately because they are only tangentially related to UBE itself.

1) Effect on Recipients

End users are the ones who are most affected by UBE. The costs, to recipients, generally fall into two categories real costs and social costs.

a) Real Costs To Recipients

UBE costs money to every recipient, as if it was sent postage due. Probably the most important negative effect of UBE is the financial cost incurred transmitting it from the Destination Operators host to the recipient users host, such as through a modem. Many users have to pay their Internet access providers by the minute. Even users with fixed-cost Internet accounts often have to pay for the phone time to connect to their Internet access providers.

Multiply these costs by the hundreds of thousands or millions of users that many pieces of UBE go to, and you can see that the cost to recipients is quite high, even without taking into account the considerable costs to Destination Operators and the Internet backbone.

There are other costs paid by all UBE recipients that are similar to recipients of bulk postal mail. For instance, there is the time lost sorting UBE from wanted mail, the time lost opening unwanted UBE that is disguised as email that the user might want to read, and so on. As the quantity of UBE increases, the cost of doing this sorting can become quite significant. UBE is particularly an issue for companies where employees get email, since dealing with UBE is done on company time, thus causing lost productivity.

b) Social And Personal Costs

Widespread UBE has had a significant human cost as well. Many users know that posting to mailing lists or on Usenet news will likely cause them to receive UBE, so they no longer participate in what used to be the most vibrant communications medium on the Internet. The constant fear of irreversibly getting ones name on a mailing list has caused many people to avoid using them altogether.

Similarly, the act of having to sort through cleverly-worded UBE in order to find actual personal email has caused many people not to use email to its fullest potential. These types of effects are causing many new users to avoid checking their mail as often as they would otherwise like, again causing less use of what could be a valuable medium. Use of filters by a recipients email software can reduce some of this pain, but cannot eliminate it. The current state of filtering technology cannot distinguish between legitimate, personal email and UBE.

) Effects On Destination Operators

The costs of UBE go well beyond the recipient. Each Destination Operator pays for each email message received because a message takes up a certain amount of the Destination Operators connectivity and computer bandwidth. Further, if the message is stored by the Destination Operator for a recipient, the operator must pay for the storage and the maintenance of that storage. Although the cost of a single UBE email to an individual recipient might well be quite small, the aggregate cost can be considerable.

Depending upon their specific business model, Destination Operators handle the costs of UBE differently. If the Destination Operator is an Internet Service Provider, the costs of UBE are borne by the ISPs users, through higher prices or lower service. If the Destination Operator is an employer, the costs of UBE are often taken out of the general networking budget, meaning that UBE causes lower company profits. If the Destination Operator is someone offering a free public mail service, UBE causes them to be able to offer less service to their clients.

Many Destination Operators report that they bear an additional and considerable expense, one of having to educate people about the nature of UBE and why they are receiving it. Because UBE tends to diminish peoples desire to use the Internet, they are more likely to complain about it to their Destination Operators.

) Effects On The Internet Backbone

UBE sent over the Internet backbone causes delays for all Internet users. Further, because most UBE senders use mailing lists that have outdated addresses on them, many messages are rejected (bounced), causing the intended Destination Operator to send a return response, which wastes more bandwidth.

It takes up a great deal of Internet bandwidth when someone sends hundreds or thousands of email/postings. These mail/postings have to be routed all over the world, precious hard drive space on servers and individuals’ computers are taken up by these unwanted messages. (It may not seem like a lot, but having the same message a few hundred or thousand times on a server adds up quite quickly). People who receive these unwanted messages have to take the time to download, view and delete them, when they could be looking at messages that are more important.

4) Effects Caused By Malicious UBE Senders

Many of the complaints about UBE, by Destination Operators, stem from the common practice employed by UBE senders of misappropriating services. The methods of misappropriation, while technically easy to do, cause hundreds of thousands

of dollars of damage to Destination Operators per year by shifting the burden of sending the UBE on Destination Operators who are unrelated to the UBE sender.

The typical way that a deceptive UBE sender misappropriates service is to offload return mail and complaint handling onto an unsuspecting Origination or Relay

Operator by specifying one or more incorrect return addresses in the message itself. They route the UBE through an unrelated Origination Operators SMTP service. Both of these actions are quite easy to do and can make the source of the message almost untraceable, particularly if the UBE sender is using a short-lived Internet account that was obtained for the purpose of sending this UBE. The account is used once, to do the sending, and is never accessed again. Hence, the sender need not care at all whether its use for this purpose is ascertained.

Beyond the basic cost of deceptive use, the result of the unwanted mailing often causes many complaints to be directed at the Destination Operator that should instead have been directed at the UBE sender. These complaints can cause significant damage to the Destination Operator, such as by filling up mailboxes on the mail hosts and reducing service to legitimate users of the Destination Operator.


Spam is send out as bulk E-mail, often to lists of 10,000 or more people at once. It’s inexpensive to send so its use has exploded on the Internet to the point where it is common for someone to get several dozen of these messages in a single day. Spam has become enough of an annoyance to warrant calls to ban it outright.

To send out unsolicited bulk E-mail, a spammer first needs to get a list of E-mail addresses. Often, spammers buy the lists from the companies that compile them. These companies use automated software robots to get E-mail addresses. The robots get the lists from a number of sources. They are

Ø Usenet newsgroups - The software robots go into the Usenet newsgroups and harvest E-mail address of the person who posted it.

Ø E-mail Directories - Email addresses are harvested from the Email directories on the Web sites that allow people to look up others’ E-mail addresses. The software robots go into it and grab all the addresses in the directory.

Ø Chat Areas - The software robots go into chat areas, such as those on America Online, and gather E-mail addresses.

The spammer either buys the resulting E-mail list or compiles one of his/her own. The spammer uses the list, along with the bulk mailing software, and sends a message to every person on the list. It may be a return address, Web site, or phone number where the receiver can get more information about the goods /services being sold. Some spammers will include a return address where someone who no longer wants to receive spasm can send message and be taken off the spam list. When the Remove message is received a robot automatically takes the person off the list. However, spammers rarely do this because most people would opt not to be on the spam lists.

Fig � .1

The fig .1 shows how an E-mail spam is sent and can be removed from the list when the user returns a Remove message.

But as the spammers realized that spam offends most people, they hide their true E-mail addresses. They “forge” parts of the message header in the E-mail address such as the From, Sender, and Reply fields so it appears that the E-mail has come from someone other than the spammer.

As a further way of hiding their true addresses, spammers relay their bulk spasm to a server that is not associated with them and then have that server send out the bulk spam. Sometimes spammers have the bulk spam relayed among several different servers to make it even more difficult to trace who really sent the mail.


Because of the great aggravation caused by UBE, thousands of people have devised methods to reduce it, both for themselves and others. These proposed solutions cover a wide range of ideas, and generally fall into three broad categories

· Filtering

· Legal

· Economic

Another way to look at this is to ask whether an originator is allowed to send UBE. If they are, the recipient or the recipients host must filter; if not, then there must be some legal prohibition on sending UBE. The argument for requiring legal force is that it is necessary to counter the very strong economic incentive present for originators of UBE. That economic incentive can only be reduced by changing the economic basis for all Internet mail, as described below.

The distinction between legal solutions is, unfortunately, not clear-cut. Some of the specific solutions described in this report cross the categories; for instance, some of the proposed legal solutions rely on filtering as well. Still, these categories give a reasonable framework for comparing and analyzing the anti-UBE mechanisms.


Most of the work in trying to stop UBE has been in the area of filtering. Filtering proposals can be divided into two broad categories

· Heuristic filters (learning and guessing)

· Cooperative filters (definitive)


The majority of existing efforts to filter incoming UBE presume that it is possible to detect such messages without the cooperation of the originator. Some commercial packages for doing filtering have thousands of rules. Unfortunately, originators of UBE are highly creative and are likely to develop sophisticated technical mechanisms to fool all but the most sophisticated filtering systems.

The heuristic approach fall into two categories

· Origin filtering

· Message filtering

Origin Based Heuristic Filtering

Origin filtering happens before a message has been fully received by the recipients host computer, and is based in attributes such as the domain name and IP address of the originator.

The rules used rely on originators to use the same or similar addresses each time they send UBE. Origin filtering prevents mail from UBE originators from being saved in the destination hosts message store, and can reduce the load on destination hosts by reducing the amount of interaction they have with UBE originators.

The four methods described here are

Ø Refusing IP connections from known UBE originators -

This technique, also know as black holing, is based on telling routers at the local site to not route IP packets from a list of addresses that correspond to UBE originators.

Ø Refusing TCP connections from known UBE originators in the SMTP server -

Modern SMTP servers can be configured to look up the IP address or domain name of a originator as it connects to the SMTP server; the domain name is determined by a reverse lookup of the IP address. If the originator is on a list of prohibited sites, the SMTP server can refuse to accept any SMTP commands.

Thus, the filtering is performed immediately after the TCP connection is opened, before any SMTP commands are exchanged.

Ø Refusing SMTP messages from known UBE originators at the MAIL FROM command -

Modern SMTP servers can be configured to check the domain name given by a sending SMTP server during the MAIL FROM command in SMTP. If the originator is on a list of prohibited sites, the SMTP server can refuse to receive a message. This filtering is performed immediately after the MAIL FROM command, before any message is transmitted.

Ø Refusing SMTP messages from originators whose domain name doesnt match their IP address -

Modern SMTP servers can be configured to perform a domain name search to find the IP address associated with the domain name, then check if that address match the IP address of the TCP connection. If the two IP addresses dont match, the SMTP server can refuse to receive a message. This filtering is performed immediately after the MAIL FROM command, before any message is transmitted.

Message Based Heuristic Filtering

Message filtering happens after a message is received. Attributes for message filtering can include the same as those for origin filtering, but can also include

things like known keywords, tip-off headers, and so on. Examples of tip-off headers include headers that indicate that the message was sent in bulk or in a way that is hiding its true origin. Some message filters also work by only allowing messages from previously-known senders to get through.

. The rules for filtering can include domain names and IP addresses, similar to the coarse filtering described earlier. The rules can also be based on whether the recipient has previously received mail from the sender and wants to continue to do so.

Specific filtering occurs in two places

· Message store (before the recipient has retrieved it) -

A receiving host can scan each message and filter out suspected UBE. It can also periodically scan the message store, for example when it has updated its list of rules about what might be UBE, to see if any of the received but unretrieved messages should be marked as UBE.

· Recipients mail client -

A mail client (such as one using POP or IMAP) can scan each message as it comes in from the message store and filter out suspected UBE. This happens as the recipient is receiving messages.

The main difference between these two is that filtering in the message store usually removes the message from the message store or labels it in a way that the mail client can recognize.

Implementations of specific filtering must decide what to do with messages that get caught by the filter. If the filter simply throws out the message, it runs the risk of losing non-UBE that simply looked like UBE, or throwing out UBE that the recipient actually wanted. Even if the filter doesnt throw out the UBE, but merely sets it aside for later reading by the recipient, misfiltered mail can easily get lost among the UBE that it appears in.


In addition to origin and message heuristic filtering for tip-offs that a message is UBE, it is possible to have collaboration between UBE originators and UBE recipients. Two entirely different schemes fall into this category

· Content labeling

· Recipient registration

With content labeling, filtering is done by the recipient or the recipients host; with recipient registration, the filtering is done by the originator.

For content labeling, messages can contain additional information supplied by the originator, such as the type of the content or an assurance of the originators identity. When the originator cooperates by assigning useful labels, these messages can then be

definitively filtered with full assurance that the filtering for those particular messages will be effective at preventing the UBE from getting to the recipient. However the recipient can also specify that they in fact desire labeled UBE.

Another proposal for reducing UBE, commonly called opt-out, requires that the user inform either individual senders or keepers of universal lists that they dont want to receive UBE. This becomes a type of filtering, where the UBE originator filters who they were going to send to against a local or outside list of potential recipients. This type of originator filtering only works for honest and/or conscientious UBE originators, of course. Dishonest UBE originators would simply pretend to honor lists and then send the UBE anyway; other UBE originators would not even pretend to honor the lists. Because different forms of filtering can cause different negative side-effects, each type of heuristic filtering is described in this report separately. The sections later in the report describe what the filtering choices are made on, how effective that type of filtering is for blocking honest and dishonest UBE, the type of coordination that is needed for effective

filtering across the Internet, the potential for information loss, and the impact of the filtering on recipients (which is, after all, the reason that anti-UBE tactics are being pursued.) Of course, the positive impact on recipients is not seeing unwanted UBE.


Many of todays UBE originators have shown little regard for honesty or normal business practices. Thus, many people think that the only way to prevent them from sending UBE, even if other anti- UBE mechanisms are employed, is through legal means.

For postal mail, direct marketing has relatively well-established practices, along with relatively long- standing regulation. However, UBE over the Internet is very new and is essentially unregulated. Of course, the Internet crosses many local, regional, and national boundaries, so any application of law to the Internet is sure to be problematic. This severely limits the ability to develop a coherent set of laws that can be applied to all (possible) source of UBE.

Legal controls are achieved through two different paths

· Passing regulatory laws

· Signing contracts

To date, neither of these avenues is significantly exploited, so that specific alternatives are almost entirely theoretical.


The nature of a law concerning UBE is to specify behaviors which are prohibited and provide for sanctions against violation of the proscription. Discussion of these kinds of controls focuses on two actors

· Origination control

· Relay control

Control by the originator simply says that certain kinds of UBE shall not be posted to the mail system, or that certain kinds of UBE shall not be posted to certain kinds of recipients. Control by the relay says that the operator of an email relay service (including final delivery to the recipient) shall reject all or some UBE. A major difficulty with the development of either type of law is development of precise and useful definitions of the proscribed UBE. A particular danger is that a definition will cut too wide a swath. That is, an effort to control one type of content could turn out to include other, very different types of content.


Legal solutions for UBE are not limited to passing new laws or enforcing current laws in a new territory. Some of the proposed UBE solutions involve contractual agreements between all senders of email and their Internet connections. By filtering for service providers who enforce anti-UBE agreements, a recipient can have more assurance that the mail that they receive will have less UBE, and that the UBE they do get will probably cost the sender a significant amount in penalties. Similarly, an association of mail relayers who have anti-UBE agreements with their senders may agree to mark email from that association so that a recipient would have a greater trust for that mail than for unmarked mail.


By its very nature, Internet mail costs little to send and little to receive unless the senders or recipients access charges are high and are sensitive to the duration of a session. Because of the low cost of sending, many people feel free to create email messages to known recipients; because of the low cost of receiving mail, most recipients freely accept all incoming messages, even though they will immediately throw away.

UBE senders rely on the low cost of sending large amounts of Internet mail. An often-suggested method for reducing UBE is to make it more expensive to send mail. A variety of methods for charging for outgoing mail have been suggested, including ones that allow recipients to return part of the sending fees. Some analysts have also pointed out that this kind of usage-based charges will make using the Internet more like other communications systems today.

This report does not look into these proposals in any depth because charging for sending Internet mail would cause such a fundamental change in the style of communicating, it would no longer be Internet mail. These proposed changes would require a massive financial infrastructure for very low-cost transactions, and every participant in the new system would have to allow tracking of all their mail in order to allow fair billing. Further, this type of system would eliminate the kinds of email that have attracted many people to the Internet in the first place, particularly open mailing lists and other kinds of mail-based discussions. These limitations are just a few reasons why the proposed fee-based sending has not garnered much interest from implementers.

Note that if sending UBE becomes illegal, it is likely that many senders of UBE would be willing to pay to send bulk email to recipients who were willing to accept payment. At that point, the mail is by definition no longer unsolicited, since acceptance of payment is a way of saying you want the mail. Payment methods and amounts would be based on market acceptance, and it is possible that todays noxious UBE would disappear and be replaced with commercial mail that is similar to typical bulk postal mail. Recipients who didnt want to receive any of this type of commercial mail could easily refuse all such mail, or could accept mail only from senders willing to pay a very high rate.


The most important thing you can do to combat Spam is not to buy anything from a spammer. If no one purchases their products, they have no incentive to continue spamming. Spam is rife on the Net. No matter what you do, it will be difficult to avoid spam altogether. To minimize your exposure to spam, avoid giving your email address out to unknown parties.

For example When posting to Usenet newsgroups, edit your header so that it doesn’t contain your E-mail address. Also notify the E-mail directories that you’d like to be taken off their lists.

Once you start receiving spam, it is fairly certain that the deluge will continue, although you can employ spam filters that will “clean up” your email. Unless you want to make hunting down spammers (those who spam) one of the areas of concentration in your life, you will just have to learn to live with the aggravation of spam. For the moment, just delete that spam.

Sending spammers email requesting that they cease spamming you will probably just incite them to send you even more spam messages. Never MailBomb spammers, this will just get you into some serious trouble. Vigilante action is definitely ill advised. Work on your defense strategy if you are truly angered by spam.

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