No Use In Responding To Spam

By | November 4, 2009

Some of the people advocate responding aggressively to spam; in other words, that means, “spamming the spammer”. The underlying reason is to make spamming less attractive to the spammer by increasing the spammer’s overhead. There are several ways to reach the spammer but then they may even lead to retaliations by the spammer.

There is no use in replying directly to the spammer’s email address. Clicking reply will not help since most of the sender addresses are either invalid or forged. But in some of the cases, however, spammers do provide valid addresses as in the case of Nigerian scams.

Target the computers that are used to sending spam. In 2005, IBM had launched a service to bounce spam directly to the computers that send out spam. Since the IP addresses are present in the headers of the address the messages can be sent back, thus eluding the problem of forged email addresses. However, in many scenarios, the IP addresses do not correspond to the computers of the real spammer but to unsuspecting users with unsecured or outdated systems, which are hijacked through malware and form a part of the Zombie network controlled by the spammer.

Spammers selling their ware need a tangible point of contact such as a telephone number of the customer or the web site containing web forms through which the customers can fill out orders or inquiries or may even “unsubscribe” requests. Since the probability of a positive response to spam is less than 1/10000 and if a very small percentage of people leave negative messages on the web site, the negative messages could easily outnumber the positive ones and the incurring costs for the spammer to sort them out. Also the increased cost of the bandwidth, which the spammer hasn’t called for.


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