Junk mail control

“Attacking spam”

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Spam Shredder - reduce the affects of spam

Part 2 - Attacking Spam

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Are you already getting spam?

If you are already receiving junk email unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to prevent them being sent. Saying that, there is a lot you can do to reduce the flow being received.

  1. Employ filtering provided by mail providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. These companies have complex algorithms to detect if a piece of mail is spam. If a message is flagged as junk mail it can go to the trash or to a special folder. The system is not perfect, at best it will reduce the spam that arrives to your inbox at worst it will flag legitimate messages as junk mail. Its wise to quickly look through the list for any messages the system got wrong. You can create additional filters so next time the message goes to your inbox.
  2. Your ISP may also offer spam filtering before it arrives into your POP mail box. Some provide this feature for free whilst others charge a modest fee. These systems generally change the subject line to include spam so that your local client can filter them. The same warnings for the above point apply here.
  3. Junk mail filters: Some mail clients such as Thunderbird come with a set of junk mail filters and have the ability to add more. Unfortunately spammers craft their next spam message in a way that the filter will be less effective forcing you to change thus forcing the spammer to change as well - an endless cycle.
  4. Apart from inbuilt filters there are full blown programs that provide mail filtering. Some are freeware others are payware. Features range from simple to extremely configurable. Like all other types of filters they simply reduce the amount of spam you see. Some will get through.
  5. Disable HTML processing of email. Do this at least for all email that you do not trust and it is assumed you do not trust any till you choose otherwise. By disabling or tighten your HTML settings of your mail client you eliminate or reduce the change of a web bug loading and so the spammer cannot conclude if your address exist or not. This will not stop junk mail but the rate may not be upward in the future.
  6. Never REPLY. The fact that companies are using junk mail as an medium to attract customers suggests legitimate means have failed suggesting their product is worthless or not legitimate. Never reply to an offer in the junk message, never take offers to be removed from the list (this hardly happens, it makes the problem worse).
Tricks used by spammers

Forged address
All spam contains forged headers such as the "from" header. This means the actual address in this headers is not real. It generally doesn't exist though on the odd occasion it may be some poor souls address.

In some rare cases the return address is genuine and is associated with the spammer. You could perhaps ask them to no longer send you email but be very careful as they may still use it to validate it rather than remove it. However having the real address also means the spammer can be caught easily so perhaps removal requests will be adhered to.

Links in junk messages are usually masked somehow to mislead you. Popular ways including using @ in a long URL containing a valid address. This causes your browser to load the spammers site but at quick glance the URL may be of a reputable firm.

Try: www.yahoo.com@www.surasoft.com
Notice how you end up at our page rather than Yahoo!'s?

Newer browsers like Firefox warn you before connecting to the link

IP Masking
We are generally used to IP addresses in decimal form as as but it can represented in a totally different way some may have never seen. Read PC-Help's document on how addresses are obscured

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