Sick of Spam? Maybe its YOUR fault!

I use nine e-mail accounts, a little high for the average guy, but I have several special use accounts for web site responses, and other special purposes.  And I get spam – tons of it, hundreds to sometimes more than a thousand a day.  Most are caught in the spam filtering provided by my e-mail hosting company, probably 400 – 500 or more per day.  Then my AVG Internet Security catches another 100 – 200 and puts them in my Junk Mail folder in Outlook.  And lastly, Outlook captures another 50-100 and does likewise.  And yet still about 10-20 unwanted spam messages sneak through the minefield and land in my Inbox.  I’ve learned to accept this as a cost of doing business on the web.

Why is there so much spam?  As I teach in my Computer Security class, there is spam because it works, and it works because there are people who – despite all the warnings – click on spam links and FREEKIN BUY THE PRODUCTS!!!  How many of these dodo heads are there out there?  Well this article from Mike Masnick of TechDirt Daily says ABOUT ONE THIRD OF YOU!!

30% Of Internet Users Admit To Buying From Spam (Email)

by Michael Masnick from the hence-your-email-inbox dept on Thursday, August 21st, 2008 @ 5:52AM

Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of studies or reports about the people who actually buy from spam. The percentages vary widely, with one report saying 4% of spam recipients buy from spam, another saying 11% and another saying 20%. Those were all a few years ago. A more recent study is now claiming that 30% of people will readily admit to buying from spam. Of course, the methodologies could be different, as some may count things such as marketing emails that you signed up for as spam, while others probably would not. Either way, it’s clear that plenty of people are still buying, because otherwise spam would have died out a long time ago.
There is one other interesting point made in the study. It notes that the industry consensus is that less than one in a million emails leads to a sale (actually, the report says ten in ten million, but I don’t see why that shouldn’t be reduced), but that number is somewhat misleading, because so much spam is caught in filters. So, the percentage of spams that get through and lead to a sale is much, much higher.

So three in ten of us just bought PediPaws from a spam e-mail.  Thanks guys and gals, for keeping this industry alive and kicking.  And the rest of you that THOUGHT you were buying something, or playing a game, or watching a video, and really downloaded software that compromised your computer security installed a backdoor Trojan, and turned your computer into a spam server – double thank you.

So the entire junk e-mail industry relies on the complicity of the general computer public – first, the unsecured computer user who allows their computer to become part of the worldwide spam botnet, and then the eventual customers, who keep it hugely profitable.

The following e-mail exchange is illuminating.

From: BL
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:02 PM
To: .L
Subject: What would you do if this came to you?

What would you do if the image below came into your email?  Would you click on it because you can’t resist seeing the marvelous video?


—–Original Message—–
From: DM
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:04 PM
To: BL
Subject: RE: What would you do if this came to you?

Is this a rhetorical question or do you want responses from us? J


From: TG
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:04 PM
To: DM; BL
Subject: RE: What would you do if this came to you?

He wants us to all say no because he has taught us better then that. J

From: DM
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:06 PM
To: TG; BL
Subject: RE: What would you do if this came to you?

I would delete the e-mail immediately and then hide underneath my computer desk until help arrived.  J


From: VH
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:24 PM
To: DM
Cc: .Lakeland
Subject: RE: What would you do if this came to you?

I would totally press that button because I love a good movie.  Then I would call Bob crying and deny that I did anything so stupid.


So there yo have it in a nutshell.  Even those of us who know better sometimes can resist the "web candy" and fall for the sucker pitch.  Just be aware that mistakes like this can be expensive to repair.  The spyware and malware infections are getting more difficult to remove, and in many cases require a hard drive reformat and complete reinstallation of the operating system, programs and data files.

Be careful out there!


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.