The term "spam" is computer slang for the electronic equivalent of junk mail. Spam floods message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists, and Rutgers e-mail accounts with unwanted, unsolicited, and often repugnant messages--usually advertisements, promotions, or deliberate disruptions. It is also a flagrant violation of membership agreements with most Internet Service Providers. While spam is often identified as "large numbers of messages", even just one unwanted message to someone can be considered spam. The term is attributed to a sketch, performed in the 1970s by the British comedy troupe Monty Python, about a repetitive breakfast menu in which each item has more Spam (the canned meat product) than the previous.
Spam is a problem for all e-mail users. It has been determined that 80 - 90% of all e-mail coming into the University's central e-mail servers is spam. For example, in July 2007, the New Brunswick faculty/staff e-mail server received 66,088,392 e-mail messages. Of those e-mail messages, 41,264,942 messages we detected as being spam or viruses and were blocked. This is not only a problem at Rutgers. Spamcop.net, a website dedicated to reporting spam worldwide, has estimated that 11.5 spam messages are sent out every second.