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Spam Solutions

  |  September 27, 2002   |  Comments

Spam, and what you can do about it.

If you’re like me, you get a lot of email. Problem is, a lot of it these days is spam, or unsolicited email. Eudora and Outlook do offer some partial solutions (Moodwatch for one), but the spammers keep finding ways around these filters. Enter add-on spam products.

Spam, or unsolicited email, has exploded on the Internet. With a marginal cost of zero, email advertising and solicitations have a heady appeal to marketers hoping to sell their wares. Spammers use special spiders and software and buy huge targeted email lists to email tens of thousand, and, yes, millions, of users at a time. If only a small percentage of users respond, spammers can make money.

A Few Solutions

Two products that filter spam are Spam Assassin and Spamfire. Spam Assassin is targeted at UNIX users, and Spamfire, from Matterform Media, is a Mac application that claims a 98 percent success rate. A Windows version is in the works.

Email program makers such as Qualcomm (Eudora) and Microsoft (Outlook) offer partial solutions. Eudora users are encourage to enable "Moodwatch" or create filters to redirect potential spam to other mailboxes.

Outlook users have "Junk E-Mail" and "Adult Content" filters that work by searching keywords and can download filter updates, but these aren’t 100 percent effective. That urgent business proposal from Uganda still seems to slip through. As fast as users tweak their filters, spammers find another way in. What users need is a more robust approach.

Steps to Stop Spam

First, avoid making your email address easy to harvest. Consider using Hotmail or a similar account when posting messages to the Web. Use your primary or business account only for communicating with colleagues.

Second, disguise your email by spelling it out (e.g., andy at jupitermedia dot com), using JavaScript, or embedding words that users remove before sending you email.

Third, don’t let the spammers know you are there. Don’t reply to spam expecting to be removed; you’ve just confirmed your existence. Also, turn off automatic HTML image downloading in your email program, the default (at least in Eudora) of on automatically registers that they’ve got a live one at the other end of that email. When I turned off "Automatically Download HTML Graphics" in Eudora, the amount of spam I received went down.

Spam Software

There are two approaches to filtering unwanted spam: server-side and client-side. Server-side solutions nip the problem at the ISP level before they ever get to you. Here are some solutions:

  • Brightmail’s Spam Wall is a popular ISP option that works with Sendmail.

  • SpamShield is Perl-based filtering for Sendmail. (A good article on this can be found here.

  • Sendmail offers antispam measures (be sure to get the latest version).

  • Spamcop.net lets the spam flow to the ISP, but you redirect your email to them, they filter it, and your retrieve it back from them.

Client-Side Spam Solutions

Client-side solutions abound. Other than Spamfire and Spamassassin mentioned above, here are some other client-side spam solutions (all Windows):

For more information on spam and some solutions see the following:

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