Spam

/spam/, n., v., spammed, spamming.
1. Trademark. a canned food product consisting esp. of pork formed into a solid block.
n.
2. (l.c.) a disruptive message posted on a computer network.
v.t.
3. (l.c.) to send spam to.
v.i.
4. (l.c.) to send spam.
[(def. 1) < SP(ICED) + (H)AM; (other defs.) ref. to a comedy routine on Monty Python's Flying Circus, British TV series]

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▪ unsolicited e-mail
      unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Although e-mail is the most common means of transmitting spam, blogs (blog), social networking sites, newsgroups, and cellular telephones (mobile telephone) are also targeted. Viewed with widespread disdain, spam nonetheless remains a popular marketing tool because the distribution cost is virtually free and accountability levels for spamming are typically very low. Experts estimate that spam constitutes roughly 50 percent of the e-mail circulating on the Internet.

      The origin of spam dates to 1978, when Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager for the now defunct computer company Digital Equipment Corporation, sent out an unsolicited mass e-mail promoting his firm's computer products. Sent to hundreds of computers over ARPANET (a precursor to the Internet; see DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)), Thuerk's message immediately provoked ire among the recipients and a reprimand from the network's administrators. Thuerk's e-mail is now widely credited as the first example of spam, although the term was not used to refer to unsolicited mass e-mails until many years later. (The inspiration for using the term is believed to be a 1970s Monty Python's Flying Circus television sketch in which a group of Vikings sing a chorus about Spam, a processed meat product, that drowns out all other conversation at a restaurant.)

      The commercial potential of spam grew along with the popularity of the Internet. In 1994 American lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel flooded USENET's discussion groups with a message offering legal services to immigrants who were applying for U.S. green cards. The mass posting provoked outrage, but the tactic brought in more than $100,000 in revenue, and the modern spam industry was born.

      Unlike traditional “junk mail,” which has a postage cost associated with it, spam is nearly free for perpetrators—it typically costs the same to send 10 messages as it does to send 10 million. Initially, most spam featured unsolicited offers from businesses that made no attempt to hide their identity. Eventually, spammers (those who send spam) went underground and began to hide their identity and location, and the content of spam became more nefarious, often advertising pornography or promoting various scams. In addition to offensive content, spam may contain viruses and malicious software (malware) that can invade a recipient's computer, allowing spammers to gain remote access to the computer. Compromised computers (called zombies) can be linked together to form a network of computers (called a botnet) that is surreptitiously controlled by the spammer and used to distribute spam or to commit a variety of cybercrimes (cybercrime).

      Some jurisdictions have taken legal action against spammers. However, lack of consistent international legal standards and the desire to protect free speech make legislative solutions difficult. Filtering software is used to block much of the spam that is sent, although spammers have become adept at coming up with new techniques to bypass security filters, making it necessary for filtering software to constantly evolve.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spam — originally referred to Spam (food), a canned meat product sold by the Hormel Foods Corporation. Since then, many other uses of the term have emerged. * Spam (Monty Python), a Monty Python comedy sketch. The Spam in the sketch refers specifically… …   Wikipedia

  • SPAM — steht für: Dosenfleisch der Firma Hormel Foods Inc., siehe Spam (Lebensmittel) Spam, im Sinne von massenhaftem Versand von elektronischen Nachrichten Spam Sketch Fliegendes Spaghettimonster, The Spaghetti Pulsar Activating Meatballs, die Gottheit …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Spam — 419 scam address munging bacn disk spamming e mail hygiene empty spam glurge ham …   New words

  • spam — n. Unsolicited emails sent to large numbers of email addresses in the hope of enticing some readers to respond. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. 2008. spam …   Law dictionary

  • Spam — son mensajes electrónicos (habitualmente de tipo publicitario) no solicitados enviados en cantidades masivas. Aunque se puede hacer por distintas vías, la más utilizada entre el público en general es la basada en el correo electrónico. Otras… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Spam — [spæm] das; s, s <aus gleichbed. engl. amerik. spam, urspr. Spam®, Kurzw. für »spiced ham«. Der Name des Büchsenfleischs wurde von US Soldaten des 2. Weltkrieges später abwertend gebraucht für etwas, was man nicht leiden kann. >: a) zu… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Spam — Spam; spam; spam·mer; …   English syllables

  • spam — [spam] n. [prob. ult. < SPAM] Comput. unsolicited e mail, often advertisements, sent out over a computer network to many addresses, usually indiscriminately vt., vi. spammed, spamming to send such e mail to (a user or users) …   English World dictionary

  • Spam® — /spam/ noun A type of luncheon meat made from pork, spices, etc ORIGIN: Spiced ham • • • spammˈy adjective 1. Tasting of, containing or like spam or luncheon meat 2. Loosely, bland, unexciting, corny (informal) …   Useful english dictionary

  • spam — (n.) proprietary name registered by Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in U.S., 1937; probably a conflation of spiced ham. Soon extended to other kinds of canned meat. In the sense of Internet junk mail it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when… …   Etymology dictionary

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