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Explaining Spam

Posted by bigceebee on July 10, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Anyone who uses a computer as a communication tool, be it for emails or social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, is likely to be exposed to spam. Though providers consistently develop methods to reduce or eliminate spam, spammers seem to always be one step ahead, finding ways to circumvent such prevention systems.

But, what exactly is spam? The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines spam as follows:

spam:  n. Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.

That's all fine and nice but how exactly do spammers manage to send spam to thousands of people? The purpose of this blog post is to explain spam in layman's terms to help my readers get a better grasp of spam from a technical aspect.

To start, consider spam as a commercial packet of information destined to be transmitted to the masses. A typical packet of spam is pictured below:

Understandably, this packet of spam cannot be sent in this format but rather, must be converted into raw data according to accepted internet protocols for transmission via coax, fibre-optic and satellite. What follows is a photo of spam once converted to its raw state.

The converted spam could be sent in this format but would only reach one person. As we know, a spammer's goal is to transmit the spam to numerous people. To this effect, a process called slicing is used, thus allowing the spammer to send the above spam to a multitude of people at one time. Sliced spam can be seen in the next photo.

As you can see, a single packet of spam can now be transmitted to multiple targets.

I trust I have succeeded in clarifying the technical aspects of spam.

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1 Comment

Reply Amy Potts
3:04 PM on July 10, 2011 
Wonderful post. Smiling out loud.