Can Cartoons Really Teach Us About Spam?

In just about every cartoon there is the good guy and the bad guy. Both are always fighting one another whether it is for world domination or just because nature says the two are supposed to be at odds. Whenever we would see these endless battles raging back and forth there was little we could do as children, or even as adults, but laugh.

Spam, on the other hand, isn’t funny at all. Just ask anyone who received one of the 50 billion spam messages that are sent each day. So comparing spam to a cartoon may be stretch when you first think about it, but read on and you can see that some of the classic cartoons we, or our parents, grew up with may be able to teach us a thing or two about spam and how to deal with it.

Wile E. Coyote vs. the Roadrunner

The coyote in these cartoons was always trying to catch his prey, the speedy roadrunner. His trademark, a never-ending supply of the latest tools he could use to deceive, outrun and outmaneuver the roadrunner in hopes that the bird would be on his dinner plate at the end of the day. However the cunning roadrunner always seemed to know what the coyote was up to and was able to easily sidestep any ambushes that were set up to catch him.

Spammers too are always using the latest tools to trick their victims. Sometimes that tool is a large botnet to flood people with their messages. It might be a piece of malware that will let them take over an innocent person’s email account so they can send “trusted” emails to all the victims contacts. Sometimes the tool of choice is carefully crafted email content that their victims will likely fall for.

The lesson we can learn from this cartoon is that like the roadrunner, we have to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. We need to be proactive and learn their tactics so we can see and anticipate their next move.

Popeye vs. Bluto

If you remember this cartoon you will know that Bluto always seemed to get the best of Popeye but just when things looked bleak for our hero, he would emerge on top. Of course, his dose of spinach always seemed to be what saved the day for the world’s most popular sailor man.

Like Bluto, spammers rely on brute force at times. With armies of compromised computers at their disposal, they can instruct these botnets to flood entire blocks of email addresses. Like Popeye, if we can recognize that we need a little help in the fight against spam, we too can come out on top.

When fighting against spam, you shouldn’t have to go it alone. Relying on help from an anti-spam filter and other email security tools will not only give you the extra boost you need to keep your network secure, but it will also help you be one step ahead of the bad guys.

Inspector Gadget vs. Dr. Claw

While Inspector Gadget was not the brightest bulb in the bunch he was able to thwart the evil plots of Dr. Claw in every episode. Why? For two reasons, first he had an rather large supply of tools at his disposal that helped protect him in a variety of situations and second, he had someone who knew exactly how to use those tools – his niece Penny and her dog Brain.

The message we should take away from these stories is that in order to successfully fight spam, you have to have a wide arsenal of tools at your disposal. Spammers his you with a variety of different attacks so having one tool to defend against a specific attack will do little, if anything, to protect you from the other threats your mail systems might face.

Of course, like our bumbling hero, these tools are worthless in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to properly use them. The same can be said for your anti-spam solution. If you don’t know how to work it properly then it can do more harm than good so you had better look to something that is easy to configure and offers the help you need when the time comes and your back is up against the wall.

Written by Jeff


  1. Lisa S. · October 31, 2012

    I don’t know if existing cartoons are a good teacher how to deal with spam but I will applaud the idea if a cartoon studio launches a series for kids about the dangers of the Internet (spam included). Now, this will be both fun and useful to watch.

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