The latest on the 'War on Spam'!

Question

What are the latest tricks for fighting e-mail Spam?

- Ray

Answer

This question was answered on December 24, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Why do I keep getting so many unsolicited e-mail messages? I didnt sign up for them!

Sound familiar? Most likely something that you did in the past put you on a list

The first thing you need to come to grips with is that there is no way to completely eliminate Spam Much like junk snail-mail, its a fact of cyber-life that will continue to plague us

How bad is the problem? Lee Burton of Extreme Internet (An Internet Service Provider - www.extremezone.com) estimates that 25% o the e-mail his mail servers receive come from what are called open-relays (improperly configured mail servers) which are typically abused by Spammers to anonymously send mail On a typical day, we block 15,000 messages from open relays for our customers.

There are plenty of ways to deal with Spam after you receive it, such as reporting it to SpamCop.net or forwarding a copy to the FTC ([email protected]) or setting filters in your e-mail program But I think a more useful approach is to understand how to prevent it in the first place.

Have at least 2 e-mail addresses:

In this day and age, everyone should have at least 2 e-mail addresses; one for family and friends that you hold closely and one for everyone else including online merchants, newsletter subscriptions or other non-essential messages Free online services such as Hotmail (hotmail.com) and Yahoo! Mail (mail.yahoo.com) are simple web based e-mail services that make it convenient to have two When a free-mail account becomes unusable because of the volume of Spam, just stop using it and sign up for another one.

Pay Attention:

Most software that you install will ask you to register your product; especially those free programs such as media players and file utilities that you download from the Internet All of them will attempt to get you on their mailing lists via an opt-in checkbox that is included in the process that basically says Yes, start bombarding me with junk e-mail Watch for these check boxes and turn them off Better yet, unless it is a company that you totally trust, use your secondary e-mail address or a fake one if you dont want any chance of getting spammed (Registration is not a condition of warranty and is not required in most cases.)

Beware of Forums:

If you participate in online forums (electronic bulletin boards) that send you postings on a regular basis, dont use your primary e-mail address in the forum They are mined by e-mail harvesters which are programs that spider through the Internet looking for e-mail addresses listed in forums and on web sites (Web masters should consider using an e-mail form that has pull down list of recipients in the Contact section of your web site to help combat e-mail harvesters.)

Dont respond!:

Never respond to Spam, just delete it Even if the message claims that you can remove yourself from the list by responding, often times it is simply a ploy to get you to verify your address Remember, these people did not follow the rules when they sent you the first message, so dont expect them to be stand-up cyber citizens when you request removal from their list The folks that participate in this form of marketing make the majority of their money by selling verified lists to other Spammers And never buy a list from these dirtballs as this just perpetuates the problem.

There isnt enough room in this column to cover everything, so I will continue to provide Spam fighting tips through my free weekly newsletter that you can sign-up for at this site (and I dont sell the list&)

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on December 24, 2001