TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: State of the Internet, 2005

State of the Internet, 2005

TELECOM Digest Editor (
Sat, 1 Oct 2005 14:28:36 EDT

A look at the internet as it stands now, in 2005, from a compilation
originally prepared by


"Spam," a slang term for unsolicited e-mail, is a multimillion-dollar
business and a daily nuisance to people the world over. E-mails with
subject lines such as "Miracle weight loss drug!" and "Get Viagra
cheap!" flood inboxes -- along with e-mail to enlarge your penis --
waste time and irritate Internet users. Spam now accounts for 80-95
percent of all e-mail, depending on whose estimate you wish to accept.

Despite the passage of anti-spam laws, the volume of spam has
overtaken other e-mail. According to IBM, three in four e-mails sent
in February 2005 were spam, inventive spammers constantly change their
methods to defeat even the most sophisticated e-mail filters, so the
ratio of spam to.

Hoaxes, rumors and urban legends

Bill Gates is giving away free money! Muggers at malls are using
perfume to render victims unconscious! A cafe at an upscale department
store charged a woman $250 for a cookie recipe! Urban legends like
these make the rounds of inboxes every day, and every day someone is
duped into believing the rumor and forwarding it.

According to, which identifies and tracks urban legends,
the Bill Gates rumor, which began making the rounds in 1997, is still
the most circulated urban legend on the Internet.

Experts advise checking your facts before forwarding messages to your
friends and family. Want to know if an item is true? Check out one of
the many Web sites devoted to investigating and debunking urban myths
and legends.

Chain letters

"Forward this message to 10 people and DO NOT BREAK THE CHAIN!" the
writer implores. Messages like these have been pouring into inboxes since
the inception of e-mail -- taking the old-fashioned chain letter from the
post office to cyberspace. Chain letters are a particularly annoying form of
spam because they often come from friends and promise negative consequences
for not forwarding the message (bad luck or a lost chance at riches, for

Choosing to forward a message, however, could get you in trouble. Many
people don't know it is illegal to start or forward an e-mail chain letter
that promises any kind of return. Anyone doing so could be prosecuted for
mail fraud.

Pop ups/pop unders:

It's practically impossible to surf the Web without encountering some
form of advertising. It's big business, totaling more than $2.8
billion in just the first quarter of 2005. Many savvy surfers have
strategies to tune them out or ignore them, but when the ads are
unexpected or disruptive, tempers flare.

The advent of pop-up blockers has some predicting the death of this
form of advertising. Until that happens, software to block ads and pop-ups
is available, but advertisers are constantly inventing new ways to
circumvent techniques intended to block their ads.

How-to Lessons:

Want to know how to grow cannabis? What are the ingredients for a
Molotov cocktail? What's the best strategy to successfully shoplift?
Web surfers can get just about any kind of information, including
bomb-making manuals, recipes for illegal drugs and even a step-by-step
guide to becoming anorexic.

To date, efforts to regulate controversial sites like these have
failed. The lack of regulation may be a victory for free speech, but
is it compromising public safety? As technology improves and more
people embrace the Internet, the question of freedom of speech versus
public safety is sure to persist.

Piracy (file sharing):

Internet piracy first entered the public's consciousness when Napster
burst on the scene in the late 1990s. Napster allowed users to
download songs without paying for them, which rankled the music
industry. The members of Metallica were among those who sued Napster
(the case was settled out of court).

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit
research group focusing on the Internet, some 17 million Americans are
using the Web, e-mail and other technology -- like their friends'
iPods -- to get bootlegged music.

Online extremism:

Hate groups have been around a long time, but widespread use of the
internet has enabled extremist groups to get their messages to a
worldwide audience. The relative anonymity of the Internet allows
fringe groups to flourish. Hate groups and everything in between use
the Internet to recruit members and promote their agendas.

The U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of speech of most of these
groups and, as long as no crime is being committed, there is little
that can be done to regulate them.


Sex sells, so it's no surprise that Internet pornography is big
business. Now, instead of an embarrassing trip to buy pornography,
users can just log on the Net and access millions of racy images --
all in the privacy of their homes. Pornographers keep pushing the
limits, catering to just about any taste, fetish or proclivity.

The ease of accessing porn has long worried parents, but efforts to
regulate the industry have largely failed. Internet and spam filters
aid those who want to avoid pornographic material, but pornographers
are constantly creating new ways to circumvent them.

Terrorist groups:

Terror has gone high-tech. In recent years, terrorist groups have set
up Web sites to issue messages, recruit followers and share
information. Some have even shown video of hostages being killed. On
the Web, terrorist groups can reach millions, while hiding in the
anonymity of cyberspace. Identity masking and other techniques allow
groups to post their messages with little fear of being tracked down.


The messages look official, down to the spoofed e-mail addresses in
the from line, but if the message asks for personal information such
as credit card or Social Security numbers, chances are it's a
fake. Phishing schemes trick users into revealing personal
information, and scammers use this data to steal the identities of
their victims.

A 2004 study by the Internet Crime Complaint Center found that e-mail
and Web pages are the two primary ways in which fraudulent contact
takes place. The Federal Trade Commission recommends avoiding filling
out forms that come in e-mail messages and that users never e-mail
personal or financial information.

The Internet has been fertile ground for scammers and con artists.
According to the FBI, in 2004 scammers tricked Americans out of more
than $68.14 million, with a median dollar loss of about $220 per

The FBI recommends that users closely guard their personal
information. The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center has more tips
on avoiding online fraud.


The popularity of the Internet has given stalkers a new medium to
torment their victims. Cyberstalkers track their victims online,
making threats and harassing them. This virtual stalking can be
difficult to prosecute, as some states have not yet adopted
cyberstalking laws.

According to Working to Halt Online Abuse, a volunteer organization
focused on fighting online harassment, 69 percent of cyberstalking
victims are women, while 52.5 percent of harassers are men. To avoid
becoming a victim, WHOA recommends that users select a gender-neutral
username and e-mail address, keep primary e-mail addresses private and
don't give out personal information online.


Spyware is a type of software that gathers and reports information
about users without their consent. Users acquire these unwanted
programs -- often without their knowledge -- by downloading free
software or through e-mail or some instant message applications.

Efforts to rein in spyware have started to pick up steam. A year ago,
Utah became the first state to enact anti-spyware legislation. In
March, the U.S. House of Representatives got into the act, passing the
Internet Spyware Prevention Act of 2005. Despite these measures,
spyware continues to plague Internet users.

Child pornography:

According to the Department of Justice, the trafficking of child
pornography in the United States was all but eliminated in the
1980s. The Internet boom changed that. The new technology has enabled
purveyors of child porn to create and disseminate images and video,
while remaining almost anonymous.

Fraud in General:

The Internet has been fertile ground for scammers and con artists.
According to the FBI, in 2004 scammers tricked Americans out of more
than $68.14 million, with a median dollar loss of about $220 per

The FBI recommends that users closely guard their personal
information. The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center has more tips on
avoiding online fraud.

NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at . Hundreds of new
articles daily.

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