It's on everyone's lips, mind and computer...Spam.
It's not an acronym but a word referring to a canned
luncheon meat, spoken over and over and over in a
Monty Python skit until it became meaningless,
annoying nonsense. Spam, or unsolicited e-mail, is one
of the most frustrating and costly problems that
plague e-mail users and the Internet in terms of
time and money. You may be surprised to learn that
it's actually a lot worse than it seems. A great
deal of spam is filtered out by Internet Service
Providers (ISP) and Hosting Service Providers (HSP.)
They sometimes cut short a spammers e-mail session.
That's right, a spammer may only get out 1,000,000
of 2,000,000 e-mails before they are shut down
because of a violation of a service agreement. Of
course most spam now originates from other countries
and the only way that is stopped is by blocking the
source. There are some major lists of spammers that
are updated continuously and some use these to screen
e-mail origins and block or bounce the spam. One such
list is SpamCop. Another service ORDB (Open Relays
DataBase) keeps track of servers that can be easily
used by spammers through a process called relaying.
In other words using someone elses unprotected server
to relay the spam.|
In spite of the spam that is stopped, enough gets
through to drive us all crazy and spammers don't care.
It's all about numbers. Send out enough and you will
get some people to click on the ad maybe even buy
something. As long as it works, they will keep
spamming. After all the cost is practically nothing.
Think how much it would cost to send out a couple of
million regular mails along with the printing and
handling cost. There are no laws that can deal with
the situation. A recent federal law went into effect
on January 1 this year that actually made laws in
some states, that were stronger, go away and even
the people responsible for prosecuting law said the
new law made it almost impossible to do anything.
If you want to keep spam to a minimum, you must do
something about it yourself. What can you do about
spam? Here's a few suggestions:
File a spam complaint. This must be done properly
and to the correct source. Remember spammers hide
their source. The return address you see is usually
forged. Spammers employ software that generates
random e-mail address and subjects. They continually
change spelling of key words to disguise the e-mail
and hide it from filters that key on those words. To
determine the source you must analyze the e-mail
headers. SpamCop offers a service that does this
for you, then prepares and sends the e-mail complaints
to the proper sources. Does this do any good? Yes it
allows SpamCop to keep an up to date database of
spammers and some do get caught and shut down. Some
have to move to a new location or change identity.
It causes spammers problems and ISPs are appreciative.
It also allows you to discover the sources of spam
and use that information in filters you may set up in
your e-mail program or other software. It can, however,
be an overwhelming task.
Using one or more of the above techniques will
certainly help you reduce the amount of spam that
reaches your inbox. You may not be able to eliminate
it all, but you can do something.
The way this works, is to run a trace of the source
and file complaints to the appropriate ISPs and HSPs
or perhaps a University where someone has used
the schools computers to send a mailing. You can
process complaints by signing up with SpamCop® and
using their system to trace and file them. They make
it very easy. This is a free service and they offer
a pay one that includes a spam free e-mail address
from SpamCop. You can get more information by visiting
their web site, spamcop.net.
Filter through your ISP. Most provide filtering just
by you selecting that option. Some, like Earthlink®,
offer a very strict filtering option that only permits
e-mail to come through if it's on your approved list.
All other e-mail is returned with an application to
get on your list, subject to your approval. This
will eliminate spam but it also inconveniences your
friends and wouldn't be a good business practice. They,
and other providers offer several levels of filtering
and will remove most spam from your in box. Enough may still get
through to bother you. You can login to your ISP's web
mail and view the spam that is filtered. It keeps it
for a while just in case you want to double check. You
will probably be shocked to see how much there is.
Filter with your e-mail client. The software that you
use for e-mail, if it's up to date, will most likely
have screening options built in. Spam often has long
and weird e-mail addresses. The subjects often have
strange characters or contain certain words. Some
contain faked headers. Filters can flag some of
these. Some use subjects that sound legitimate and
may pass through. "Hi" is a common subject of spam,
probably because friends also use it. The e-mail
that is filtered is still in your e-mail program,
on your computer. It's just now being stored in a
different place. You have to delete those e-mails,
which can be done all at once.
Pre screening and bouncing. It is possible to prescreen
your e-mail against the spam databases I mentioned above,
set up additional filters, and bounce the spam without
it ever reaching your computer, with software. One such
program is called MailWasher. It allows you to check
e-mail on your server before downloading, even view
it if you wish. It will check and mark the spam for
bouncing and deletion from your mail account. One mouse click
sends it back to the spammer, not that they care. It
does feel good, however, to "just say no!"
Tip of the Week
When looking at a web site do you often want to increase
the size of your browser window to see more ? Instead
of dragging the edges or corners with you mouse to
increase the viewing area just push the "F11" Key.
That's one of those keys in the top row. It will
increase your view to the maximum, even removing
tool bars. To go back to the smaller size, just
push the "F11" key again.
May the time you spend on spam, turn into fly fishing time. ~ JM ~ JM