Today sees the 30th anniversary of the first ever spam message.
The message was sent by Gary Thuerk, an over-enthusiastic sales and marketing representative of DEC, to all 393 users of ARPANET (which later became the internet as we know it today).
In those 30 years, spam has progressed from a minor nuisance to a significant problem of bandwidth, users' time and disk storage.
Millions of spam messages are sent from compromised computers everyday.
I am often asked how can the spammers be stopped. The simple answer is that if people didn't respond to spam, if they didn't buy the goods, or invest in the pump and dump stock, spam would soon dry up. The spammers wouldn't make any money from their activities and would go out of business.
But the fact is that spam does drive people to websites. In a recent survey by Sophos 11% of respondents admitted having purchased an item advertised via spam.
To commemorate this anniversary, SophosLabs has created a pledge to help stamp out spammers. After the fun we had making an April Fool's Day video, we thought it would be good to use YouTube again. A video of various members of the team swearing their oath against spammers can be found on the SophosLabs YouTube channel. We have also published some simple steps on how to reduce the risks of receiving spam.
We have also created a Facebook group - The Sophos Spam Pledge: "I won't buy goods advertised via spam" - where you can read the pledge, and encourage others not to respond to junk emails.
We take spam and other internet threats seriously here at SophosLabs, and although there's an important message here we like to let our hair down too. Years of work battling malware has toughened us up against most things, but, as you can see below, a rainstorm as we filmed the video in the Sophos car park did leave the pledge in a rather bedraggled state..
So join our call to pledge to stamp out spam by promising not to click on links in unsolicited email messages, and never buying goods advertised via spam. Maybe together we can make sure that spam doesn't have a 40th or 50th anniversary..