Times Article 019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
<http://www.luckman.com> 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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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.
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 <email@example.com>, your spoofed address might be <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Be sure to add instructions in your signature file that explain how to
decode your spoof so that you can receive legitimate replies.
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!
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
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 <http://abuse.net>,
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
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:
Internet Tools, (888) 669-8665, http://www.spammerslammer.com
Software, (800) 828-5295
Attack Pro, $30
Oak Software, (800) 388-2761
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!
you next month.