Many of you probably know the word “spam” from the phrase “spam email,” but do you know what it actually means? Spam is a meat product that was invented in 1937. The name is a mixture of the words “spiced” and “ham.” In 1970, the British comedy team “Monty Python” did a sketch about a cafe where the only thing on the menu was spam. A customer tried to order breakfast without spam, but whatever he chose seemed to come with spam. This sketch is really famous in Britain, and when email started to become popular, someone decided to call unsolicited junk emails “spam” because he or she liked the Monty Python sketch. The name stuck, and now the word is used around the world. Now, in fact, there are also derivatives of the word, including “spamming” and “spammers.”
For those of you who are interested, here is the original Monty Python sketch.
Now that I host this blog on my own server, I have to be really careful about spam comments. One method I use is to remove the comments box from old entries. (I must remember to do that today!) If you look at my old entries on the ALC blog, you will see thousands and thousands of spam comments. ALC’s home page is really popular, so unfortunately, it naturally attracts the attention of spammers. Sometimes, they get hundreds of them every hour just on one blog! Another type of security I use is to ask commenters to input a code that they can see on the screen. Computers cannot read this code, so the only way for spammers to get around it is to pay teams of people to enter the comments manually. Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of people who do this. If a spammer finds a site where comments can be posted without being approved, they will pay a team of people to attack it with spam comments that include links to other sites.
So, the topic this week is spam emails. Do you get a lot of them? What kind of emails do you receive? What methods do you use to try to stop them? If you don’t have any stories about spam, feel free to talk about anything else connected to computer security. A friend of mine recently had her Gmail account hacked, and the hacker sent a message to everyone in her address book saying that she was stuck in England and needed money urgently. This is quite a famous scam, but even so, a few people told her later that they were thinking about sending money. Has something similar ever happened to you or anyone you know?
Look forward to hearing your stories.