8 pages/≈2200 words
Communications & Media
Computer Research: Unsoliced Commercial Communication (Research Paper Sample)
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COMPUTER RESEARCH: UNSOLICITED COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATION (SPAM)
Table of Contents
TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240138" Introduction PAGEREF _Toc307240138 \h 3
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240139" The Problem of Spam PAGEREF _Toc307240139 \h 4
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240140" How Spam Affects System and Network Resources PAGEREF _Toc307240140 \h 4
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240141" How Spam Affects Employees’ Productivity PAGEREF _Toc307240141 \h 4
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240142" Case Scenario PAGEREF _Toc307240142 \h 5
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240143" Fighting Spam PAGEREF _Toc307240143 \h 5
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240144" End User Techniques PAGEREF _Toc307240144 \h 6
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240145" Administrative Techniques PAGEREF _Toc307240145 \h 8
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240146" Emerging Techniques PAGEREF _Toc307240146 \h 9
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240147" Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc307240147 \h 10
HYPERLINK \l "_Toc307240148" Cited Works PAGEREF _Toc307240148 \h 11
The problem of spam is perhaps among the top problems that plague the internet. A simple definition of spam could be unsolicited commercial communication or in short junk emails that are sent to users without asking for them. However, this definition could be misleading because if a long time friend or relative manages to find your email address and sends you a message, this could hardly be spam even though it is unsolicited. Schryen (6) says a good description of spam would only include those emails sent in bulk to a mailing list or news group which are advertising some products. Spam is not only annoying and disruptive to the end users but it can also cause problems to the network administrators and the management at large. This is for the reason that spam reduces employees’ productivity and robs the company of system resources.
According to Tony, the problem of junk emails or unsolicited commercial communication is becoming a menace and it has reached a level where it is a hindrance to the development of information society and ecommerce. In his article “Team Work Will Beat the Spammers” Buchanan, alludes that recent researches show that about 65% of the emails received in the mail servers of most companies is actually spam. As a result, many companies and organizations have experienced low productivity not only from the time wasted by their employees but also as a result of the reduced network bandwidth which greatly lowers data transfer and communication speeds. Consequently, these organizations, and other individuals have embarked to fight spam using a variety of techniques. However, the internet being in the public domain, the mission has proved a difficulty one to attain. The purpose of this research report therefore is therefore to identify and evaluating some the common techniques used in fighting spam. In addition, the report will discuss the emerging ideas from research which are believed to have a practical chance of succeeding.
The Problem of Spam
As earlier mentioned, spam affects the company or organization in two major ways, being a nuisance to the end users, and consuming system and network resources.
How Spam Affects System and Network Resources
Email messages including spam pass through the organization’s internet connection through the firewall and into the exchange server. Because of the finite data amounts that can be handled by any internet connection, spam tends to slow down the data transfer and communication speeds because of the waiting time before bandwidth becomes available. In addition, the passage of this spam through the firewall and the exchange server uses CPU and memory while processing the messages. Therefore, Schryen (46) argues that this loss of bandwidth, CPU time and memory greatly affects the efficiency of the organization’s network because of the huge volumes of spam. Moreover, as the volume of spam increases, disk space on the exchange server as well as other computers in the system becomes an issue.
How Spam Affects Employees’ Productivity
The argument here is that of time wastage due to the time spent looking at spam and deleting it. However, this discussion will uncover some other concerns which directly lower employee’s productivity. While the issues of time wastage may seem trivial of we consider a single employee per day, the losses made by the company by the end of the year are actually wanting. If for example the company has 50 employees and each of the spends about a minute deleting spam each day, then the time wasted per year is much greater than what can be seen at first. Other concerns include the accidental deletion of legitimate emails or cases of legitimate emails being screened as spam. According to Schryen (24), the productivity of employees whose job rely heavily on sending emails to clients or doing internet based research is also lowered due to the slow connection and reduced network speeds. One would soon realize how much the productivity of the organization is affected if all these issues are taken into account.
Recently, a family friend who works as an IT consultant narrated a case of how the spam problem can become an impediment to an organization’s goals if proper techniques are not implemented. As one of the consultants in his company, he had been assigned to help a medium sized tracking company which was experiencing spam problems. On average each of the employees was receiving up to 80 spam messages per day. Soon, the company was receiving so much spam so that it was a problem using email. According to his investigation, the problem started a couple of months earlier when the company received a hiked phone bill. Apparently, this was caused by one employee who had opened a spam message which contained a malicious script. As a result, the script caused the computer’s modem to dial almost a thousand numbers. By the time the company sought external consultancy, the problem had gotten out of control, forcing all employees to get new email addresses. You can guess how the whole ordeal was a problem for this company by considering just the efforts that were required to inform all its clients of the changes in email addresses.
As earlier stated, fighting spam has become almost impossible because of the open of the internet. The internet being in the public domain means that there is no single locality, state or even country that can fight and win this battle on its own. This is due to the fact that spam can be sent from any part of the world to and to any part of the globe. Therefore, this would imply that no single technique or method applied in combating spam can prove to be sufficient. Network administrators should therefore employ a multiplicity of techniques at the same time in order to mitigate the issue of spam and its effects. In their research report, Moustakas, Ranganathan, and Duquenoy outline technological and legislative approaches as the two categories of the techniques commonly used in fighting spam. Other researchers have also come up with their own categorizations of the methods. This researcher will take a more general approach of categorizing the methods network administrator use in fighting spam. These are end use techniques, administrator techniques and emerging techniques. The last category of emerging techniques includes recent research proposals and legislative techniques which have caught the eye of many stakeholders.
End User Techniques
These refer to the methods which individuals can use to maintain the privacy of their email address thereby reducing the chances of them being detected by spam. They range from address munging, discretion, reporting spam, the use of contact forms, not responding to spam or responding to spam directly and using ham passwords and disposable email addresses.
Discretion is simply the exercise of care in order to maintain the privacy of email addresses. In this case, network and mail server administrators advice the users to share their email addresses with a small and trusted group of individuals. This should be done mainly through opening email addresses for professional or work use only and which remain active only when the individuals is a member of that group or organization. Such email addresses are deactivated soon after the person ceases to be an employee of the organization or member of the group.
Contact forms are most widely used by network administrators as a means of combating spam because they do not reveal the actual email address of the organization. Therefore, contact forms are incorporated in the organization’s website when administrators want to request for information from the public. In this case, the users fill in their details on the online forms and post the form without actually having access to the email address to which the form will be delivered.
Mail server administrators also urge their system user to report spam whenever they receive them. This is a technique in combating spam because the information obtained from the received spam is used in identifying spam and spammers. As Buchanan correctly identifies team work as the only way to defeating the spammers in their game, the industry will collaborate and pool their resources together, through these spam reports, so as to identify the source of the spam and the eventually the spammers. When these, spammers are identified, their services can be blocked and further action taken to ensures they do not engage in spamming activities again.
Schryen (12) identifies the use of disposable email addresses and email address munging methods as the other common technique used ...
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