SPAM! It doesn’t just come in a can.

Hey there, welcome back.

Oh what’s that? You have something you want me to look at? Hmmmmmm these emails are interesting. You appear to have everything in here, starting with an email from The Psychic Reader to a Penn State Offer for Viagra. Let me check something. I’m looking at the actual sender’s email address and the Header, the real senders, information contained in every email. Yeah it’s what I thought. It’s SPAM. What is SPAM? Well it’s not canned meat. The term seems to have originated in a skit from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

There are people out there who will send out millions of emails a day hoping that some poor soul will click on it. In your case they target big companies and organizations because they usually have a naming convention that is easy to figure out and then they can generate mailing lists and send to everyone.

Penn State email addresses are usually your initials followed by some numbers, so spammers create a list with the first name being aaa001@psu.edu and going to zzz9999@psu.edu. When they send an email to this list, they will get a lot of bounced emails, but they will get several thousand that go through.

Normally a mass email like that gets caught and filtered by the Penn State email server’s spam filters, but every now and then some get through.

Spammers are getting more and more clever about their SPAM so it is getting harder and harder to catch them. The good thing is that when they are caught then they add the exploit or trick that was used to bypass the SPAM filters and that is one less way they can use.

What? Oh yes, there are some things you can do to help limit the amount of spam you get. Penn State’s ITS department has some great information on SPAM and the vultures that are waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting: http://kb.its.psu.edu/node/1582. They also have a page dedicated to creating your own filters if you use an email client: http://kb.its.psu.edu/article/1369.

The best piece of advice I have is: If you don’t know who it is from, don’t open it.

Well I hope that helps. Want to join me for lunch?

What? I’m having spam. You should try some; it’s really quite tasty.

James Sechrengost
Information Technology Specialist
The Penn State World Campus HelpDesk
The Pennsylvania State University

Example of a Spam Email
Example of a Spam Email

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