Just before I went out last night I checked my email and at that time I cleaned out the few SPAM messages I did have. When I got up today I noticed that in a 12 hour period I received 159 SPAM messages. After scanning the titles and senders I determined there were no false negatives in the list and it was certainly all trash.
What shocked me the most is the sudden and unprecedented escalation in such a short period of time. It does match the trend we are seeing at the university where each month see’s a doubling of SPAM and this trend has been growing at an alarming rate since the mid summer time frame.
What does this mean? Well if the spammers have the ability to send such large volumes of messages at a key stroke – and I should mention the majority of my 159 messages were variants of 3 main types of spam, so they likely came from a common sender – then they have the ability to target and disable sites for ransom. Imagine a spammer who has compromised hundreds of thousands of computers, or even millions of computers, and using that collective power directs them to flood one single site. They could in theory hold that site ransom and while I don’t know of any site that has been held for ransom I certainly see it happening.
While this likely does not matter much to you – unless you run an multi million dollar online company – it should. Your computer could be one of the reported million compromised machines that one spammer claims to have under his control. If he has the ability to zombie your machine from across the world, what other information is he able to collect from you? Could identity theft or the threat of it be another scam these people employ?
At the end of the day we all play our part. By ensuring our computers are clean of spyware, malware and other devices that could be used part of a massive SPAM network. Also by being proactive and not clicking on links sent to us by people we don’t know. By doing this you are informing the spammer your address is real and a person is reading the mail, thus inviting more SPAM. Also don’t forward anything on, this less threating form of SPAM is highly annoying but potentially could find its way to a spammer who could gleam a large quantity of working emails to send more SPAM too.
In the end and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.