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I Hate Spam

Posted by marke, 03 May 2006 · 2,450 views

SPAM
These days, there are very few people who have managed to avoid that scurge of the internet, SPAM.

The origin of the word is unclear, with some suggestion that it cam from a Monty Pythons sketch.

I can get upwards of 400 SPAM emails a day and it can be an issue trolling through all that garbage. - I don't and I know that I do miss some legitimate emails because of the filtering that I use, but that is life I am afraid.
There is nothing worse than being away and out of contact with the internet for a week or so and finding over 2700 emails waiting to be processed! It would take for ever to open each one and discard the bad and keep the good. It takes long enough just to process the obviously good emails.

The moment that you have a domain name and a web presence, you seem to be a target. There are lots of emails to ficticious addresses at your domain. One of the first steps to take is to not use any of the obvious addresses such as info@.. or editor@.. or webmaster@... etc. These will all be targets. Better that you just filter these addresses and send them to a spam processor or reporting agent.

How can you avoid spam?? you cant. You can however take steps to minimise the volume of spam that you get and there are tools to help you from being exposed to the full volume of spam.

Rule 1. Never publish your email address in any webpage. The spiders are capable of finding email addresses in any web documents including PDF documents. It was possible to fool the spiders by embedding your address in javascript, not any more. If you wish people to be able to see your address on your web page, make a graphic with your address in it. There are plenty of graphics programs that you can use. You can write it out in full in a fasion that a human needs to interpret it and put it together, but be careful, these script kiddies are on to that and can recreate the address from your text if you make it easy for them.

Rule 2. Never use your primary email address in entry forms for unknown or untrusted web sites. Some of these companies are unscrupulous and sell their contact lists on to the SPAM organisations for big money.

Rule 3. Never use your primary email address in magazine articles that you may write. Those pages are often published on the internet as a PDF file and your address can be spidered from there. If at all possible, create a secure web based contact page that will send comments and messages on to you.

Rule 4. If you have your own domain name, you can create as many email addresses as you like. Use a new address for each new company you deal with and record who has access to what address. Better still, make it obvious that you are doing this by making their name part of your address. You can then easily identify where any address leaks are occurring. If you suddenly start getting SPAM to an address that you gave to company XYZ, then you know that they have a contact list leak, or are onselling addresses. Either way, you probably don't want to hear from them again, just send them a message expressing your disapointment in their behaviour and filter that address straight into the junk box.

Many of todays ISPs offer a level of SPAM filtering to reduce the rubbish that you get in your INBOX. This can be great and some of the filters work really well. Be careful with the challenge type filters that were very popular. These can result in even more traffic as the bounced emails get sent between spoofed and nonexistant addresses.

There are also SPAM filtering specialist sites such as http://www.spamcop.net who provide a spam reporting service and also a spam filtering service. You can route your email from your Inbox through these filtering services to reduce the spam considerably.

SPAM reporting services such as SPAMCOP and Bluesecurity analise any SPAM reported to them and operate to identify the originators and close them down. It is worth reporting spam via these organisations, but be careful, there are some who are really using an apparent front as a means of gaining even more addresses.

SPAM filtering programs that operate on your PC either as a filter plugin for your email program, or as a prefilter such as Mailwasher are also well worth looking at. The latest version of Mailwasher include the ability to report the spam to reporting services.

Once your email address is in the spam system, it is sold to many and you can not get it out again. You can change addresses frequently or use filtering techniques to keep the volume down. The best thing to do is to try to slow down the publication of your address by following the rules above and using common sense. It is not a case of if your address becomes a target, but when.




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