What is Spam and Ham E-mails?

(Last Updated On: March 22, 2019)

The use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately is called Spam. The key word here is unsolicited. This means that you did not ask for messages from this source. So if you didn’t ask for the mail it must be spam, Right? That is true, however quite often people don’t realize that they are signing up for mailers when they download free software, or sign up for a new service, or even when updating existing software. The best way to deal with spam is to forward the message to the system administrator. Any unwanted emails that you did not sign up are considered as spam in short.

Ham is ‘E-mail’ that is generally desired and isn’t considered spam. One may think how can this fit into spam scenario. They are email advertisements mostly that you directly or indirectly signed up for.

There are two ways you could have signed up for this email. Directly– While downloading free software such as a browser or a game or signing up for a new online service you were required to agree to and check the box agreeing to their Terms of Service (TOS). Below or above the TOS were other check boxes. One said “Yes! I would like to receive information and offers from you and your partners.” If you checked this box, then legally you asked for this email.

Indirectly– This is the same scenario as Directly signing up except the box for the information and offers is pre-checked, leaving it for you to uncheck the box if you do not want to be on their mail lists. Think about how you detect spam. A quick glance is often enough. You know what spam looks like, and you know what good mail looks like.

Spam’s Relation with Malware

Spam is often related to malware and phishing scams. Phishing scams are fraudulent. They look like a legitimate service and are designed to imitate the services people mostly use in daily life. So people do not suspect about the true nature and origin of the e-mail or websites it is related to. Many people fall victims to such scams and enter sensitive personal details like passwords and online banking details or credit card information. Which can be used for nefarious purposes including but not limited to online fraud, identity theft and stealing money off their digital wallets.

The spam could be linked to malware sites or spywares. Sometimes they mislead people to download some attachments or files that can also serve above mentioned nefarious purposes. They can also cause damage to your device and data and install ransomware which takes your device and data as hostage until you pay the ransom to mentioned accounts through various cryptocurrencies.

Staying Safe

Avoidance is the best policy although modern spam filtering algorithms are getting intelligent and many popular e-mail service providers including gmail, outlook and yahoo mail have them. As the user of the e-mail service we need to be careful not to fall for click-bait and traps in the spams. Do not download attachments from e-mails whose origin is not confirmed. Avoid falling for getting rich scams or emotional click-baits. Research shows that most often hacks and data breaches of organizations occur due to human errors which listed clicking on scam and phishing emails as one of the main cause.