Spam Prevention

Spam Filter -
a spam filter analyzes your incoming email messages, recognizes common spam elements, and filters the junk mail into a special spam folder within your email program.

Spam Blocker - a spam blocker acts in much the same way as a spam filter with one major difference - it blocks spam.  Recognizable spam is bounced back to the sender as undeliverable, which theoretically means less spam in the future.

Spam Stopper - a spam stopper is an application with a collaborative framework.  Users forward spam (headers included) to a central archive where a list of offending senders and IP addresses is maintained. Messages from these sources are then blocked. SpamAssassin is a prime example of this group-based spam stopper approach.

Spam Appliance - a spam appliance is a hardware device attached to a network.  An evolving rules database blocks spam for all the users of that network. Bounced spam messages are usually archived for a short time for retrieval of any false bounces. Rules also allow the whitelisting of senders by user, domain, etc.


Spam Prevention - Home User Do's & Don'ts

by Greg Reynolds

If you want to avoid spam, here are some simple rules to live by:
1 - Don't post your email address online

2 - Don't open spam

3 - Don't buy anything from spam messages

4 - Don't use spam "remove me" links

5 - Do use an anti-spam filter


1) Posting your address online starts a quick journey to spam hell. Spammers rely on programs that scour the web for usable email addresses. Those harvested addresses are resold to other spammers who in turn bombard you with their own
unsolicited messages.

Advice: Don't post your primary email address online. Use a free email account for any online postings, contest entries, etc. If you absolutely must use your email address, disguise it. One simple way is to add the phrase "No Spam" to it.


2) Never open spam. Many HTML email messages return a "valid email address" signal to the spam senders. They know you've opened their message and now you are fair game for more spam.

Advice: Set your email client to display unread messages without the message view enabled. Simply drag the unopened spam to the trash.


3) Don't buy anything promoted by spam. Doing so just creates more spam. Spammers are only in it for the money. If the money dries up due to zero sales, they'll be out of business.

Advice: Before you succumb to a spammer's marketing pitch, ask yourself if you truly need another penis enlargement patch or whatever. Remember: No sale means no spam!


4) Clicking the "remove me" link in a spam message only confirms that your address is a live one. Your email address is now upgraded to the spammer's valid delivery list.

Advice: Just like not opening spam and not buying a spammers product, not using the remove link is a smart move. No reply in response to spam is always your best bet.

Note: Always use the unsubscribe link to remove your address from any legitimate opt-in mailing list to which you have previously subscribed and no longer wish to receive.


5) Using a spam filter is one of the best anti-spam solutions. While no spam blocker can ever be 100% accurate, a good one will block 90-95% of all incoming spam. Instead of dealing with ten or twenty spam messages in your inbox, now you are
annoyed by only one or two.

Advice: Anti-spam filters are a no-brainer. Many solutions have a free trial period that allows you to try it before you buy it.


Solution: One of the simplest spam blockers to use is CloudMark's SpamNet filter.  Simply download the file, click once to install, and you are instantly blocking 90% of all incoming spam.

Simply tag the ones that escape the filtering process and you are now part of a collaborative effort that updates the group spam filter for everyone.

Other useful resources include Microsoft's anti-spam advice page.
A comprehensive list of other effective anti-spam blockers, primarily shareware, is available on the TuCows site.

Spam is a time-wasting nuisance. Take action today by adding a spam blocker to your email client. You won't regret it.


Greg Reynolds is a 20-year computer industry veteran and President of Net Sense, an IT consulting firm.

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