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The Future (And History) of Phishing And Email Security


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Not that long ago, the only way to communicate with someone across the office was to get up and walk over. Then, it became calling one’s phones with individual extensions being widely used. Eventually, those phone lines were used to link computers together and someone got the idea that you could send messages to a specific person in a network. That was when email was born.

Because computer networks were so small and used by few people, email was not built with security in mind. The thought that one day there would be more than 4.3 billion email addresses worldwide never occurred to anyone. This oversight first led to spam and then email phishing.

How can understand the evolution of email helps us to understand how to fight back against phishing and scam?

The History of Email

 

 

MIT developed Compatible Time-Sharing in the mid-1960s. It allowed users to log in to a terminal and access files from a shared server remotely. ARPANET joined together a series of networks to create the first intranet, the predecessor to the internet.

The @ symbol was introduced to send messages to a specific user, the predecessor to modern-day email. In 1976, Queen Elizabeth became the first Head of State to send an email.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the standard email format we know today – with fields for ‘To’ and ‘From’, as well as the ability to forward emails, was developed.

The Birth of Spam

 

 

Just a year after an email was developed, Gary Thuerk got the idea to send a mass message to everyone in the ARPANET network – all 397 of them. The mass email was about a presentation at a hotel.

The move was so wildly unpopular that no one would try to send such an email again for over a decade.

Mass emails only became a method of attack in 1988. It was the time when online gamers sent massive amounts of email to rival players in order to crash their systems and render them unable to play the game.

It was in 1993 that unwanted emails were called ‘spam’. It’s a name that was chosen as an homage to the Monty Python skit about a character’s dislike of the canned meat of the same name.

The second attempt at mass marketing spam emails took place in 1994.


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