Although there is no internationally agreed-upon definition of "spam", many countries consider it to be any bulk commercial email sent without the express consent of recipients. Spam is no longer just a nuisance, but has quickly evolved into a vehicle for malware, threats to privacy, scams, fraud and misleading trade practices, such as phishing. It is now estimated that spam represents more than 80% of all e-mail traffic. Processing and managing spam creates costs that are ultimately paid for by businesses and personal e-mail users.
Phishing is a technique which counterfeits existing legitimate web sites and businesses, in order to obtain credit card numbers, bank account information, social insurance numbers and passwords, directly leading to identity theft and fraud.
Spyware is software that collects information about a user without the user's knowledge or consent. It may also be software that modifies the operation of a user's computer without the user's knowledge or consent. Typical kinds of spyware include keyloggers, which send a list to a third party of the keys that a user pressed, and adware, which displays to the user advertisements selected by the adware's owner.
The term 'botnet' refers to a collection of software robots, or 'bots', that operate undetected on a network of infected computers (commonly referred to as 'zombies'). Computers can become infected in a number of ways, including: viruses sent as an attachment to a spam message; clicking on pop-up windows; or visiting an infected website. In the absence of security features such as firewalls or anti-virus programs, a computer can easily become compromised and users typically have no knowledge that their computer is operating as a zombie. Once established, botnets are controlled remotely by the originator and used for distributing all types of malware.
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