Spam and Scam glossary

There are many terms and confusing titles on different forms of spam, scam, viruses and spywares. We have made a list with definitions that gives you an overview of potential threats and makes them easy to understand. You can avoid many of these inconveniences by using SPAMfighters products to secure your computer.

Address Harvester

An Address Harvester is a robot that scans or “crawls” websites, Net news, forums etc. for anything that looks like a valid email address. This results in large amounts of email addresses which will be used to send out spam, or sold to spammers.


Adware is software that has been installed on your computer without your knowing. Many freeware or shareware programs that you download from the Internet will install hidden programs, that send details such as i.e. your email, websites you visit etc. to an advertiser who can target you with popup ads (often even if your offline) and spam.


An attachment is a file that is sent along with an email message i.e. if you include a file with an outgoing email message. Be careful about attachments. Attachments can contain malicious programs, such as viruses and Trojan horses. If you receive an attachment from someone you do not know, you risk that it might be a virus or Trojan horse, which will be activated when you click on it!


Backdoors are programs that bypass normal security access into systems for hacker’s use, while attempting to remain undetected. They can be very harmful by opening infected computers to total external control.

Bayesian filtering

A statistical approach to determining whether an email is spam. Based on probability inference techniques pioneered by English mathematician Thomas Bayes. Bayesian filtering does however demand extensive training to be effective.


A blacklist is a list of people, IP addresses, or Url’s that you have disallowed to send you email in your spam filter. You can blacklist people, IP addresses or Url’s with SPAMfighter – get it here.

Blackhole list

A public list that contains IP addresses known to be sources of spam. This list can be used to easily create a network blacklist to filter out mail coming from one of these addresses. This list does, however, also often contain innocent email addresses, and therefore create a large amount of false-positives.

Bulk mail

Bulk mail is another definition of spam mail. Bulk mail is mail consisting of large numbers of identical mails (often advertisements) sent to different names. See also spam or junk mail. You can filter Bulk mail with SPAMfighter – get it here.

Chain letter

A chain letter is a letter that is sent successively to several people. Often these contains friendly greetings, but also terrible threats if you do not do as the Chain Letter says, forcing many people to Forward the mail “just to make sure” nothing bad happens. This is not SPAM in its pure form, but is also considered spam by many people. Note also, that these kinds of mails often contain large amounts of email addresses, which can be abused in the wrong hands.


Cookies are small pieces of data placed on your computer by the website you visit. The data is sent back to the website by your browser every time you revisit the website. Cookies are used for authenticating and maintaining specific information about users, such as the contents of shopping carts. A tracking cookie is a cookie used for tracking users’ surfing habits. They are typically used to manage advertising data, but may also be used to profile and track user activity more closely. For example, a third-party cookie can track a user across multiple sites. This allows advertisers to target advertisement to the user’s presumed preferences.


A dialer – or dialing software – is a program that uses a computer’s modem to connect without the owner’s full knowledge. The intention is often to commit fraud by calls or access services resulting in unexpected telephone charges. This phenomenon is also known as Modem Hijacking.

DoS/DDoS Attacks

In a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, the attacker tries to shut down a target system, usually web servers, by weakening the bandwidth. If the server gets overwhelmed with excessive amounts of information it may stop responding. A distributed-denial-of-service attack (DDoS) occurs when multiple systems simultaneously launches attacks to flood the bandwidth.


An Exploit is a piece of code that takes advantage of bugs, security holes or other vulnerabilities in a system to gain unauthorized access to the system. Normally the exploit takes advantage of specific software vulnerability, but in some cases it can open computers to total external control.

False negative

A false negative is when your anti-spam software fails to identify a spam message as spam.

False positive

A false positive is when your anti-spam software identifies a legitimate message as spam. SPAMfighter comes with an automatic “real mail” protection, which means no false-positives.


Spam consisting of large numbers of messages sent to a single newsgroup, either as a mistake from a newbie, or as deliberate attempt to drown out the newsgroup. Also know as Vertical Spam.


Computer users who attempt to gain unauthorized access to sites or break into computer systems. Hackers often steal information from companies i.e. mailing lists, and sell these to spammers for a fee. See also Script Kiddie.

Hash Buster

Hash Buster is a way for spammers to avoid getting their spam mail caught by spam filters – by inserting random generated content in each spam mail, often in the form of word-like patterns in the subject or content field, it will confuse spam-detecting software which looks for identical messages, because each wave of spam appear unique and individual to the filter.


Headers are used to identify the sender and recipient of a message. A Header is the small information line that will appear at the top of a mail.


Hijacking is an attack whereby an active, established session is intercepted by an attacker who wants to abuse your session. Hijacking can occur both via the Internet as well as locally, i.e. if a user leaves a computer unprotected making it possible for a spammer to pretend his mails are coming from someone else. See also Spoofing.


A system or network with known vulnerabilities which looks attractive to hackers, crackers, and other unwanted attacking guests. A honeypot serves no real purpose and have therefore no legitimate activity, so if someone tries to interact with it, it will most likely be unauthorized or malicious activity. The connection will be closely watched by honeypots admins who collect in-depth information that can expose new tactics and tools on how these unwanted guests work and can track them as well.

Joe Job

A Joe Job is the act of forging spam mail headers to make it look like it comes from someone whom the spammer will hurt. The victim will soon be flooded with bounces and angry replies.

Junk Mail

Junk email is unsolicited advertisements often selling something or providing link to commercial websites. See also Spam or Bulk mail. You can filter Junk mail with SPAMfighter – get it here.


A keylogger is a program that captures and records keyboard and/or mouse activity on a computer. Keyloggers often runs hidden in the background and either store the recorded keystrokes for later retrieval or transmit them to the keylogger administrator.

Mail Loop

A situation where one automated mail triggers another which again triggers the first mail to reply etc. thus creating an endless mail loop. This will cause high pressure on the mail servers.


Malware is short term for Malicious Software. A malicious program is designed to infiltrate an IT system without the owner’s approval. The term generally refers to any software designed to cause damage, whether it’s a virus, spyware, trojan horse etc.

Mortgage Mail

One of the fastest growing categories of spam. Spam mails are issued by “Lead generators” who sell the information they receive from spam mails, to well known lenders such as Ameriquest and Quicken loans etc. These companies are unaware of the origin of their leads, but often buys a “hot lead” for as much as up to 80$. You can filter Mortgage Mail with SPAMfighter – get it here.


To modify headers to avoid detection by automated software. Often the most common form of Morphing is to modify the “From:” line in an email.


A mousetrap is a java-script that makes it difficult to leave a website. When the reader tries to leave, a window pops up back at the website and preventing the user from clicking “Back” from a website. Often used when an advertiser gets paid per person who clicks on the client’s website.


A newsletter is a simple form of newspaper or information page that communicates to a target group. Newsletters are mostly legit, coming from a service the users might have been unaware that he or she accepted to get information from. The user is able to unsubscribe the Newsletters without any problems. Note: Always read the terms thorough when subscribing to a service with your email to find out weather or not they are allowed to send you newsletters of other information – and only submit and unsubscribe to services you know are legit, to prevent that you expose your email.

Nigerian Scam

Also known as 419 Scam. You receive an e-mail that seems to come from an official in Nigeria, asking you to help him transfer some money. This is a kind of spam that could – in the worst case – get you killed. In the best case, if you fall for one these criminals’ spam mails, you will “just” lose your money. You can filter Nigerian scam mails with SPAMfighter – get it here.


Opt-in is the process of accepting to receive mail from a sender – newsletter, information etc. This is usually done when you subscribe to some sort of service, newsgroup or product. In some cases, double opt-in, you have to confirm your subscription from a verification email.


The process of unsubscribing a mail service or declining to receive future emails from a sender. Legit email marketers or newsletters services have an easy and clear way of opt-out.

Password Stealer

A password stealer is a program that captures passwords that’s being typed on a computer. In contrast to a keylogger that captures every keyboard activity, the password stealer only captures passwords. It can save all kinds of passwords or be modified just to save passwords in specific programs or on certain websites. See also Keylogger.


Phishing is a scam, although one of the newer ones, that tries to lure your hard-earned money right out of your wallet. And technically it’s a well-done scam, which takes advantage of peoples trust in legal enterprises. You can filter Phishing mails with SPAMfighter – get it here.

Porn Spam

By fare the most burdening spam category. This form of spam advertises all forms of pornographic material. It is constantly getting more and more aggressive and changes forms and procedures often in the quest of driving traffic to their sites. You can filter Porn Spam with SPAMfighter – get it here.

Potent Spam

E-mails which advertise and promote products to help men with their sex life such as Viagra. It is however often fake drugs that are sold, some without effect and some cause potential health risk. You can block spam containing Potent Spam mails with SPAMfighter – get it here.


Mass mailing virus and email software used by spammers, designed to send as much mail as possible in as short time as possible.


In Internet terms, a Robot is a program that is designed to automatically go out and explore the Internet for different purposes. This can also be called a worm or a crawler/webcrawler, spiders, worms, and can be used both to index content on the Internet, as Google crawlers do, or to garter other kind of information, such as email addresses.


A rootkit is a malicious program designed to take total control over a computer or IT system. The rootkit stands above system administrators, which means that not even the operating system is aware of its existence. Rootkits often fools the users to believe they are safe and install themselves as drivers or kernel modules. Once the rootkit has gained access, it can do pretty much everything since it has administrator rights, for example monitor traffic and keystrokes, attack other machines on the network or create backdoors into the system for hacker’s use.

Script Kiddies

Script Kiddies use scripts or programs developed by others to search for weaknesses in computer systems and networks. Unlike a hacker, a script kiddie only uses existing techniques and hacking programs to carry out unauthorized computer break-ins, e.g. to spread mass mailer worms through e-mails, or create DoS attacks. See also Hacker.


Unsolicited e-mail sent to large numbers of people to promote products or services. Also called “Junk” or “Bulk” mail. We all see spam – unwanted mass-mails – in our mail-boxes every day. Spamfighter is an award winning Anti Spam software, used by millions of users worldwide. You can also be protected from spam by getting the free version of SPAMfighter here.

Spam traps

An email that exists with one purpose – to attract spam. Some website operators deploy such addresses to be harvested by spambots, and can thereby monitor and study spam attacks to this otherwise unused and uncirculated address.


Invalid email addresses that are deliberately planted on a website with the expectations that they will be harvested by a spambot and thereby pollute the output and destroying the business for the spammers. It is even possible to place elements that trap spambots in loops or generate large amounts of invalid email addresses to counterstrike spammers even more.


A computer program that is designed to visit or “crawl” random websites and newsgroups, while collecting or “harvesting” everything that looks like valid email addresses for inclusion on spam lists.


SPAMfighter is Europe’s leading spam filter developer, providing spam protection across the globe for millions of home and business users. You can also become a SPAMfighter, try our Anti Spam software here.


A spamfilter is software that filters all incoming mail and sorts them in what is normal mail and what seems like spam. Spamfilters can be deployed on the network where the spam will be detained before you download it (i.e. our SPAMfighter Mail Gateway, SPAMfighter exchange module or hosted spam filter) or on your computer where it will be detained after you download it (i.e. our Anti Spam Filter – get it here.).


A spammer is a person who sends spam. Believe it or not, many people actually react on spam mails and some actually buy something from spam mails. Even though it is only a very small percentage of people who receive a spam mail who react to it, it is still a very lucrative business for most spammers. Some easy steps to prevent getting spam: 1. Install SPAMfighter Anti Spam Filter. 2. Never open or react to spam mails!


A company or a place that generates and allows the production and sending of spam.


Spamware is any kind of software for spammers, i.e. robots, spiders, crawlers, harvesters etc. and also the software spammers use to send out mails.


A program designed to search the Internet. See also Robot.


Spam not only occurs by e-mail, but also by instant messaging like ICQ, Messenger and Skype. This phenomenon has been dubbed “Spim”. Read more about Spim here.


Spoofing is when a spammer or scammer fakes his origin or pretends to be someone else i.e. of a sent mail, where the header is made to appear from someone other than who it really is. This is often the case when someone sends you either phishing mails, making it look like it came from a legitimate sender to try to trick you.


Software that contains third-party software which is used to monitor the users behavior. The user is unaware of the installation of this software which often takes form as a Trojan Horse, monitoring your web browser activity and sending the information to the author of the spyware. A powerful tool to datamine user activity and collect marketing information. Remove Spyware and other malicious software with SPYWAREfighter – get it here.

Stock mail

This is a scam, where spam emails hype shares of a company of which the spammer has previously acquired stocks. If sufficient people react to the spam mail and start placing orders on the specific stocks, the market value of the stock rises, and the spammers can sell with a profit. This is also known as “Pump and Dump”. You can filter Stock mail by using SPAMfighter – get it here.


Tricklers are small hidden programs that can download and reinstall malware that has been removed from a computer. The trickler makes the download run slowly in the background so it is less noticeable. These programs are typically used by spyware to silently restore components after the spyware has been removed.

Trojan Horse

A program that is disguised and installs code that can counteract security or opening access to you computer, thereby letting hackers in. It can also perform other tasks such as gathering identity-information to be abused. The name origins from the Trojan War, where Greek soldiers hid inside a large wooden horse, only to sneak out at night and attack the Trojans from the inside.

Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

See Spam.

Vertical Spam

See Flooding.


A computer virus is code designed to make additional copies of itself to other files and infect them, spreading from computer to computer typically without the users knowing. The term virus is often used as a catch-all phrase to include all types of malware – worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, etc. Remove virus and other malicious software with VIRUSfighter – get it here.

Virus Mail

Virus mails are simply e-mails containing virus. Virus mails can be used to gather information for use to spammers, for example email addresses, or to pass on virus to other computers.

Web bug

Web bugs are methods for spammers to validate email addresses. A small graphic inserted in a spam mail, notifies the spammer when the messages is read or previewed. This is why we recommend that you disable the preview function in your SPAMfolder. This way you do not accidentally open a spam mail and verify your email. Web bugs are also known as Bacon URL.


Refers to a person or organization that focuses on securing and protecting IT systems. (Black-hat is the opposite, i.e. a hacker, or someone who destroys systems or spreading viruses or spam.) If you want to be a White-hat and help out to fight spam, get the free Anti Spam Filter from SPAMfighter here.


A list of email addresses, IP addresses or domains that is trusted by a user and therefore approved be delivered, bypassing the spam filters.


Computer worms are programs designed to propagate constantly. They primarily spread on networks and almost always cause harm to the network, if only by consuming bandwidth. They might delete files, encrypt files or install backdoors in the infected computer to allow the creation of a “zombie” under control of the worm author. Unlike a virus, worms don’t need to attach itself to an existing program.


A zombie computer is a computer that has been hacked into, or taken over by hackers. Usually the owner is unaware that he has released a virus or installed a Trojan Horse which enables the computer to work as a Zombie. Now the hacker can use the infected computer to launch an attack or send out spam to other computers without the owners knowing.