Glossary definition of Spam

Spam is the term commonly used to mean unsolicited e-mail or SMS messages. The purpose of such communications may vary greatly, from straightforward but unwanted marketing information about products or services, through to messages that have a malicious or criminal intent.

The increasing amount of Spam has become a serious problem, as the circulation of these bulk mail messages may reach millions, and the amount of traffic has been responsible for slowing the operation of the Internet. Spam can also add extra costs to business, because staff must spend time sorting valid communications from junk e-mail. Some Spam may even arise from an individual's normal activity on the Internet, when their details are recorded and then intentionally or unintentionally added to the mailing lists kept by companies responsible for sending Spam.

Nowadays, specialist companies and software exist to filter out or block Spam at the Internet Service Provider or individual subscriber levels, although this has sometimes proved crude and may interfere with normal traffic, as it is not always easy to identify and separate Spam from legitimate communications.