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20 years of spam

29 April 2014

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We recently passed an Internet milestone: 12 April marked the 20-year anniversary of commercialised spam when two US immigration lawyers broadcast unsolicited messages promising Green Cards. But even with two decades and trillions of unsolicited messages behind us, it seems there is still no end in sight.

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Source: Cloudmark

Source: Cloudmark

There were certainly unsolicited messages sent before April 11, 1994, but that’s the day two lawyers pitched a green card lottery to the vast Usenet News audience. It’s been mostly downhill since.

That first blast on Usenet News was nothing. Internet service providers, businesses, and individuals have invested millions and wasted countless hours in the battle against spam.

They promote the most obscure, unapproved generic drugs to greatly enhance your sex life; or a share of the fortunes of charitable Nigerian princes, banks and lotteries. Other messages simply exploit people’s curiosity, inviting recipients to click on malware-download links disguised as videos or topical news alerts.

According to analysts, spam makes up nearly 70% of all email sent. That means, roughly speaking, that if you were to receive 100 emails today, there’s a good chance that 70 of them would be unwanted solicitations. Fortunately most of them are blocked by Internet Service Providers and firewalls.

See
Twenty Years of Spam
Spam turns 20 and is still going strong
Happy 20th birthday, spam, you devil

 

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