SPAM is and remains dangerous

While in the past it was just partly dubious advertising, today most of the online dangers nest in there. Unfortunately, unwanted messages always find a way.

If you talk about e-mails, you automatically talk about SPAM. Depending on one's perspective, far more than 90 percent of the total volume of e-mails sent worldwide consists of this. The same can be said about the huge pile of digital mail sent to Deutsche Telekom AG and its customers.

SPAM has not lost its terror.

SPAM has not lost its terror. © Deutsche Telekom

Good versus evil

The aim is to be able to identify as many unwanted e-mails as possible as soon as they arrive and to prevent them from being delivered in the first place. So you could say that we use detection systems and filters to keep the flood of SPAM messages out of mailboxes. Nevertheless, every now and then SPAM "slips" through this network of countermeasures. This is due to the fact that senders and service providers have always been in a race against each other.

Whenever the service providers have found a way to reliably detect and suppress SPAM as such, we see a recurring ritual: the other side gropes its way closer and closer to the core of these mechanisms via tests. Sooner or later, senders get a feel for the thresholds that determine SPAM and non-SPAM. And then they change their tactics accordingly. 

Cybercrime exacerbates the problem

In an earlier phase of the hare-and-jelly race, for example, one of the criteria was the number of identical mails sent. Since then, the cybercrime phenomenon of identity theft has become increasingly important for SPAM senders. Simply because they started abusing real existing accounts under their control. Instead of sending a thousand mails from a cryptic generated address, they send only one or two mails from every 1,000 compromised accounts. 

In the incredible flood of many unsolicited and a few solicited emails, it's damn difficult to find these miniscule amounts. That's why customers - especially those of the so-called freemail accounts - should always keep a watchful eye and react quickly to warning signals. More and more frequently, malware is being sent with SPAM messages or they contain links to phishing portals. In fact, more than 80 percent of all digital threats come from e-mails and their attachments. A virus scanner or a security package from a whole range of solutions can help against most of the associated consequences. Unfortunately, due to the nature of things, a one hundred percent effective all-purpose weapon can and probably never will exist. 

SMS are also becoming more dangerous

Since around 2019, Central and Western Europe have been additionally plagued by SPAM on other channels. On the one hand, this has something to do with changing user behavior - short message services and apps have simply become more relevant. On the other hand, it is another reaction to the constantly improving detection systems. Initially, it was malware that reached customers' smartphones via SMS short messages. The wave spilled over from Asia to Europe, where the phenomenon had been known and feared since 2016.

As a result, the European variants became more and more perfect. The evolution progressed very quickly and new elements were added. At first, it was supposedly about problems with the delivery of parcels. Then it was audio messages. Finally, even so-called chatbots were used to make communication seem even more authentic.

Focus on messenger services

The next step was obvious. It was only a short distance from text messaging to apps such as Whatsapp, Telegram or Signal, which have become indispensable in everyday life. Now messages with a cybercrime background are arriving more and more often. Within the scope of our possibilities, we provide information about this and help affected customers with the Abuse team.