Fifteen years ago this month, the age of spam began. Like so many things, it started innocently enough, when a couple of immigration lawyers in Phoenix pitched their services to pretty much everyone who was on the Internet at the time, via the 6,000 newsgroups in existence then.
Actually, the very first Internet promotion was way back in 1978, when a DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.) marketer sent an invitation to 393 Arpanet users, promoting an open house in Los Angeles where they could see DEC’s newest computers. The overwhelmingly negative response was sufficient to put a lid on that use of the Internet for the next decade and a half.
The 1994 action was not well received by Internet users either, and the story goes that one of the lawyers was even disbarred for it. Yet these same lawyers went on to write a book promoting spamming as a way to leverage the “Information Superhighway” and make a fortune.
Well, it’s all gone downhill since then, as any Internet user knows. Spam, in all its ugly forms, makes up a majority of the messages in the average user’s mailbox every day. Want to know how bad it really is? In one 12-month period, Sprint stopped more than 250 billion spam messages from reaching customers. Think of it this way: If each spam message was on one sheet of paper and you stacked them on top of each other, the pile of spam would be 14,993 miles high.
It’s easy to think of spam as merely a nuisance, but it’s far more than that. It’s dangerous – if an employee were to accidentally open the wrong message, it could trigger a download that would infect the corporate network – and it eats up valuable bandwidth. It’s also disruptive to the efficiency of corporate resources. And frankly, it serves no useful earthly purpose. The way we look at it, every spam message that is kept from delivery represents a tiny victory for Good over Evil.
Spam elimination is one of the important functions of our Sprint Secure Email Protection product. Keeping malicious, unwanted traffic from reaching enterprise networks not only protects them, but it also frees up bandwidth. The bandwidth that spam messages and other network threats would have been consuming is now made available for better network performance.
If you want to really help control spam, and its evil cousins, malware and viruses, you can also consider our Sprint Secure Web Protection product. SSWP comes in two versions, premises-based (a better choice for enterprises with a high concentration of users at a small number of sites) or network-based (for enterprises with a large number of sites). It also includes options such as URL and content filtering, IM control, and enforceable usage policies.
Remember when Bill Gates promised in 2004 that the world would be spam-free by 2006? Such a pledge is good for a laugh now, because we’ve come to realize that the world will never be spam-free. Too many spammers, and too little time to hunt them all down. The only answer is individual action, with each of us implementing the best security solution we can, to make our company’s network as spam-free as possible.