Author: Yogi Schulz
The deluge of junk e-mail is irritating all us. To help in the battle, I’m devoting this column to a series of counter-measures we can all employ to reduce the irritation of spam; as junk e-mail is not so affectionately known.
Most client e-mail software comes with features to reduce spam in the InBox by searching for telltale signs in the contents of incoming spam. For example, in Microsoft Outlook, you can set up various filters using the Tools > Rules Wizard function.
Since spam is rarely sent directly to you but to a list of undisclosed recipients, setting a filter that looks for specific words in the subject is a good place to start. More sophisticated filters search for undesirable originators or selected properties of documents or forms.
The limitations of the filter approach are that the spammers are fully aware of the features of the Rules Wizard and can send messages with misleading Subject lines and document characteristics that bypass your filters.
You can reduce spam in your e-mail InBox by installing additional software on your workstation or on your e-mail server. The marketplace offers a wide selection. If you’re interested to receive a list of software products that offer to control spam, please send me an e-mail but don’t use “Spam” in the Subject line.
The disadvantage of additional software is cost and the presence of more components to manage and configure.
Free E-mail Account
Another approach to reducing spam is to establish a Hotmail or similar free e-mail account in addition to your primary e-mail account. The purpose of the additional account is to collect all the spam that arises when you are forced to provide an e-mail account at various web sites or when you post messages to newsgroups and mailing lists.
You log onto this additional account roughly monthly to make sure the account isn’t expired by the provider and to quickly scroll through the collected messages in case something important ended up here by accident. The provider will take care of deleting the spam automatically as it ages.
The disadvantage is that you will need to monitor yet another e-mail account. You can’t consolidate the messages from the additional account with your other accounts because that will defeat the purpose of the approach to separating spam.
Quite a different approach to controlling spam relies on controlling our own behavior. We must resist the temptation to participate in surveys, contests and “free” offers. All of these ask us for information and greatly increase the likelihood that we will be spammed.
Don’t ever click on the Remove button of spam e-mail. Rather than removing yourself from a list, clicking the Remove button actually confirms that you exist. Now the spammer will subject you to more spam.
Don’t ever buy anything from a spammer. Aside from the potential for fraud, you’re encouraging more spam.
Don’t complain. In my experience there’s no satisfaction to be gained. You’ll only raise the level of your irritation meter. Move on. Life is too short.
Implementing some of these ideas will reduce but not eliminate spam from your InBox. I hope these ideas will help us win the battle against spam by making spam an ineffective communication channel.
Spam no longer just a mystery meat, Catherine Ford, The Calgary Herald, Sunday September 8, 2002, page A13
Anti-Spam Software Product Web Sites
Cloudmark – SpamNetwww.cloudmark.com
Emtec – SpamDetectivewww.emtec.com/spamdetective/index.html
GBS Design – InBox Protectorwww.inboxprotector.com
Giantcompany – SpamDefensewww.giantcompany.com
HelpMeSoft – Nucemwww.helpmesoft.com
High Mountain Software – SpamEaterwww.hms.com/spameater.asp
Kinder Shield Labs – KinderMailwww.kindermail.com
Mail-Filters – SpamCurewww.spamcure.com
Mailgate Ltd. – SpamWeaselwww.mailgate.com
Mailshell – Mailshellwww.mailshell.com
MailWasher – MailWasherwww.mailwasher.net
Michigan Integrated Solutions – MailMoatwww.mailmoat.com
Solidblue Software – Spam Interceptorspaminterceptor.solidblue.biz
Sunbelt Software – iHateSpamwww.sunbelt-software.com
VirusScanning.net – spam and content filteringwww.spamscanning.net
Anti-Spam Service Web Sites
ICONN.NET – SPAMFREE.NET Servicewww.spamfree.net
Spamex – Disposable Email Address Servicewww.spamex.com
Anti-Spam Resource Sites
Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Emailwww.cauce.org
Fight Spam on the Internetspam.abuse.net/
Internet ScamBusters – How To Dramatically Reduce The Amount Of Spam You’re Receivingwww.scambusters.org/Scambusters16.html
Junkbusters – Junkemailwww.junkbusters.com/junkemail.html
Spam Con Foundationwww.spamcon.org
Server-side mail filtering software products:
SpamMotel.com – SpamMotelwww.spammotel.com