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High-Tech Times Article 019

Minimizing Spam!

After being away from my computer for a week to suffer through kidney surgery, I wasn’t tremendously astounded to find 897 e-mail messages waiting for me.  But I was surprised to find that fully 52 percent of these messages were “spam,” and that many showed up in my In box.

Spam on the Internet is defined a bit differently than the “delicacy” that we in Hawaii eat in copious quantities, and the “spam” name is the result of a Monty Python comedy skit (much to the dismay of Hormel). Internet spam is unsolicited e-mail that you receive when you haven’t requested it via a Web form or an e-mail list, and it seems to arrive in larger droves each day.

As a computer consultant, I’m signed up for many forms of data-feed, but have also established what I thought were some fairly efficient spam filters using Eudora Pro 4.0; I found that I was wrong in this assumption. So while I’m sharpening up my own spam defenses, I decided to share some of the tips and tricks that will cut down on the messages that pop up in my In Box.

The first law of spam-squashing is to stay anonymous. This is a lot harder to do on the Internet than you might expect. Browsing the Web, using e-mail, and posting newsgroup messages leave you open to spam. Spammers use e-mail robots called “mailbots” to collect addresses from newsgroups and the Web, so never add your address to e-mail directories. If you find yourself listed in a directory like Bigfoot, ask to be removed immediately.

One standard used by all spammers is to track you on the Web using “cookies” - text written to a file called COOKIES.TXT on your hard-drive. If you set your browser to reject all cookies, you may not be able to access many sites. So some enterprising engineers at <> devised a shareware application called Luckman’s Anonymous Cookie which accepts any and all cookies - and then quietly trashes them. I have this installed on all my computers that can access the Internet.

Another obvious method to preclude spam is to NOT enter your e-mail address in generic Web forms or wherever it’s not crucial that the Web site have accurate information. If you have a Web page, don’t use your personal address in e-mail links; instead, have people contact you at a general e-mail address, such as <>.

You can throw off a lot of spammers by simply using two e-mail accounts. I have one for my family and friends, and a second, free account for mailing lists, Web forms, etc. You can get free accounts from Excite Mail, iName, HotMail, and many other sources.

An interesting way to limit junk mail is to “spoof” your address name. If you add uncommon characters or words to your outgoing e-mail address, you can easily confuse mailbots. If, for example, your real e-mail is <>, your spoofed address might be <>. Be sure to add instructions in your signature file that explain how to decode your spoof so that you can receive legitimate replies.

Use filters and screens to eliminate much of the spam. All major e-mail software contains filtering tools that can automatically dispose of many unwanted junk e-mails. Eudora Pro has very sophisticated filters that eliminated all but 73 of those 466 spam messages that I found. But even this many is too much!

Some filtering tricks to consider: (1) If a message doesn’t contain your correct e-mail address in the To: or Cc: field, trash it; (2) delete messages with Subject lines in all capital letters, with many dollar signs, and with many exclamation points; and (3) filter out messages with x-rated Subjects, and with Content containing “spammer-speak” like bulk e-mail, authenticated sender, or make money fast.

Never respond directly to a sender of junk mail!! A reply simply alerts spammers that your address is active and correct. Instead, complain to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that hosts the spammer. This action does require that you analyze the message header to find the most likely address for the spammer. But once you’ve identified the most likely address visit the Network Abuse Clearinghouse <>, and fire off a polite but firm letter requesting their help in stopping further spam. They also have quite a few useful tools to identify spammers.

Last, but certainly not least, are the spam-slaying software weapons. These anti-spam applications take different approaches to ridding the world (or at least your computer) of unsolicited e-mail. Here are four packages that may solve your spam problems at little or no cost:



SpamKiller, $30


Now Internet Tools, (888) 669-8665,

SpammerSlammer 1.3, Freeware


SoftWiz Software, (800) 828-5295

Spam Attack Pro, $30


Solid Oak Software, (800) 388-2761

CyberSitter AntiSpam, $25



Just remember not to get complacent. The spammers know about all of these methods and tools, and are working diligently to continue to make your life miserable by filling your hard-drive with spam!

See you next month.