March 31, 2010

Strategies To Fight Email Spam

If you are a business owner and you rely on email, spam is going to be a major concern. How you address it can make a big difference in employee efficiency. Email spam has been a nuisance and has gotten even worse over the last several years. Email spam slows down server performance and can eat away at storage. Cleaning all those bad messages out of your inbox is time consuming. The easiest way for viruses to spread is via email.

Having a strategy to deal with email spam and viruses threats is essential for any business to survive and be productive. You can limit the negative impact to your business by having policies and guidelines in place.

Tips to avoid getting email spam:

  • If you have a company web site, use a contact form that the web site visitor can fill out. Some spam mers use robots that crawl web pages looking for email addresses. Your web site designer should be able to help you with this.
  • When signing up for forums, products and services use a free email or throwaway account like hotmail or Yahoo mail.
  • When signing up for offers be careful what boxes you check although technically not spam you may get a lot of email offers you do not want.
  • Never reply to an email spam message, this just lets them know that your account is active.
  • You may want to use a throwaway email address if you post on newsgroups or forums.
  • These measures may help to reduce spam, but if you have an old email address you may want to change your email address or deploy a spam filter system. There are several choices for anti spam systems you could buy software that runs locally on your PC to filter the spam, but this can be expensive, does not prevent virus infection, and is not a good choice in a networked environment. Managing individual machine spam software is inefficient.
If you have limited technical resources you can outsource you email spam filtering to a hosted anti spam and virus solution provider. Spam filter service providers colocate their spam and virus filters in data centers with redundant power and network connections. You will need to change your mail exchanger on your dns servers to point to the service providers spam filters. Your service provider will then scrub your email for spam and viruses. They then forward your email to your mail server minus the spam and viruses. This gives you a few extra layers of protection. In the event of a network outage or server downtime your email is held and is delivered when the network or your server is available minus the virus and spam. Spam filter services also scan for viruses; this adds another layer of defense to the virus software already running on your network.

If you have an organization with more than one hundred email boxes investing in your own spam filter appliance is the most cost effective solution if you have the technical expertise to manage the system. A spam appliance sits in front of your email server and blocks spam and viruses. The price of the spam appliance will depend upon your number of users, amount of mail and storage requirements.

Fighting spam is no longer be a losing battle if you have a good strategy to deal with the threat.
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March 24, 2010

Free Spam Blockers

Remember when spam was just another horrible thing you would never eat? And then you grew up a little and spam became the lyrics to a great Monty Python song. And now spam is something to avoid at all costs. Or, in the case of free spam blockers, at no cost at all. Everything is better when it’s free, right? Such is the case with blocking out annoying spam from your email account, too.

Free spam blockers are popping up all over the internet. Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that some pop-up ads are advertising spam blocking technology. The problem with spam isn’t really the content, of course, it’s the time spent winnowing through all those e-mails in search of the ones that really contain useful information or are from people with whom you want to contact. The best free spam blockers in the world are not only free, but don’t take up any space on your computer. Yes, I’m talking about being very careful to whom you give your e-mail address.

The plain simple truth is that any time you fill out a form that asks for your e-mail address, you are just asking for spam. Maybe the site where you filled out the form sold your address to mass marketers and maybe they didn’t, but chances are if you have ever given your e-mail address to a company rather than an individual, you received spam because of it. And if you’re like most people doing business on the internet, you’re spending anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half just checking your e-mail every day. You don’t have time to wade through the spam pool. That’s why getting yourself one of the reliable free spam blockers out there is so important.

You can almost instantly tell when you’ve come across one of these free spam blockers because of their oh-so-clever name. For instance, Spamhilator, SpamButcher, or SpamKiller. And you want to know a secret? They are almost all exactly alike. Oh sure, there are little differences that may mean a lot to you personally, but frankly it doesn’t matter. The best thing you can do is download them as a trial version—and with so many on the market offering trial versions, it makes no sense to ever download any of the free spam blockers that don’t offer trial versions—and check them out to make sure they do what they promise. And if they do what they promise, do they do it with a minimum amount of fuss and muss and maintenance on you part.

The key to using free spam blockers is maintenance. You got one in the first place to give yourself more time to do what you need to do. So why would you want to use a spam blocker is high maintenance itself? Go through all the free spam blockers that interest you and then narrow them down until you find the one that works completely in the background without throwing out stuff you really need and that doesn’t require you to keep checking up on it. That’s the one you want.
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March 23, 2010

Fighting Spam!

It's been nearly a decade since spammers and their enemies begun evolving competitively. As with the classic cheetah/gazelle model originally formulated by Darwin, each time one group becomes a little faster or more agile, its adversaries develop traits for outwitting and outrunning it.

In addition to wasting people's time with unwanted e-mail, spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth. Consequently, there are many organizations, as well as individuals, who have taken it upon themselves to fight spam with a variety of techniques. But because the Internet is public, there is really little that can be done to prevent spam, just as it is impossible to prevent junk mail.

Nobody wants it or ever asks for it. No one ever eats it; it is the first item to be pushed to the side when eating the entree. Sometimes it is actually tasty, like 1% of junk mail that is really useful to some people.

The number of unsolicted commercial electronic messages received by the average American in 2001 was 571, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. By 2006, Jupiter says, that number will increase to 1,400, with more than 206 billion spam messages going out over the course of the year. While these numbers are notoriously difficult to calculate, every survey and ISP record points to dramatic increases in spam, sometimes as much as 300 percent year over year. One reliable indicator of the problem's magnitude is the size of the anti-spam effort. The range of tools available to ISPs, enterprises and consumers in the fight against spam grew considerably during the Web bubble. Simultaneously, heavyweight Web marketers and interactive ad players have been scrambling to distinguish their services from the bad guys, as well as to counteract growing calls for government controls on digital marketing.

In one of the biggest such moves, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), through its subsidiary, the Association of Interactive Marketing (AIM), has released online commercial solicitation guidelines in an effort to promote high ethical standards among marketers. The rules require that members let e-mail recipients know how they can refuse future mailings and allow consumers to prevent the sale or rental of their addresses
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March 21, 2010

Everybody Hates Spam

There is nothing like checking your email only to find out that your inbox is swamped with unsolicited message from people you do not know. No you’re not interested to buy dog food, beauty products, slimming pills, plants, or software! But still, you get these irritating emails.

Spam, this tiny four letter word has annoyed millions of people around the world.

What is spam anyway? Spam also called unsolicited commercial email (UCE), unsolicited bulk email (UBE) or junk mail, is unwanted email sent to multiple people usually for the purpose of advertisement.

Spam has produced negative effects aside from annoying people. Apparently, it is a waste of time to sort through tons of email while trying to figure out which email is valid and which is spam. Oftentimes you missed out those important messages just because you thought they were spam. Spam has also the potential to spread virus, pornography, and scams.

It is not only individuals who are affected by spam. Large companies and other businesses are suffering as well.

Many companies have already filed lawsuits against spammers who send spam and claim that they are from those companies, when in fact they are not and were just sent to cause turmoil and ruin the companies’ reputation.

The NCSA and Bank of America released a study called “Online Fraud report” and it showed that 87 percent of its respondents were confident that they could distinguish real emails from fraudulent emails. It turned out that 60 percent failed to identify the legitimate emails. This only shows that the spam problem has become even worse. Most people could not even recognize legit emails from spam.

Receiving spam is indeed such a hassle for people and for businesses.

You may be wondering how these spammers found your email address. With the existing technology available today, you should not be surprised to find that spammers use a lot of techniques for them to obtain other people’s email addresses. They could get email addresses from DNS listings, Usenet postings, or web pages, they also could guess common names at popular domains, or use programs called web spiders to search for email addresses on the web.

So how do you get rid of spam? Unfortunately, there is no 100 percent solution to this problem. You may try anti spam software or spam filters but this will only reduce the number of spam that you receive but will not totally eliminate them.

Another thing that you can do is to click that unsubscribe link, usually found at the bottom of email spam.

As I told you earlier, some spammers acquire email addresses through guessing common names at popular domains so it would be wise to set up an email account that is hard to guess. Use a different email when signing up with forums, mailing lists, chat rooms, news groups, and registering with websites.

Aside from email spam, a new range of spam has recently emerged. Spammers have found new ways on how they could get those spams to people. The new target of spammers are news groups, forum groups, instant messaging, online game communities, blogs, and even guest books.

With spam rising progressively, it is really important that you understand its nature and protect yourself through learning more on how you can get rid of it. Spam can waste your time, energy, and money so it would really be wise that you know how to block those annoying messages.

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March 20, 2010

Antispam. Aren't We All! Don't You Just Hate It?

Antispam. Aren't we all! Don't you just hate it? You've got enough to do without having to sift through a bunch of worthless, or worse yet, offensive junk e-mails in your Inbox.

So what can be done about it? What antispam procedures and software really work?

Spam filtering software is the first stop in your antispam campaign, but in some ways it's the easiest to subvert.

What this antispam tool does is tell your e-mail system to look for designated clue words - sex, nude, porn, for example - and to eliminate the messages that contain these clue words. Of course, there are easy ways to get around these antispam tactics. Did you ever see a message that comes through with the word sex spelled s*e*x? Well, that asterisk method has circumvented your spam filter - or the spam filter of your Internet and e-mail provider.

The other problem with this filter is that you could miss legitimate messages. A friend, for instance, who might mail you that she was "sick of porn sites popping up" might have her message deleted because it contained the word porn.

Two upgraded versions of these antispam filtering products are Bayesian and heuristic filters, which try to identify offensive messages through recognition of phrases as objectionable. SpamAssassin by Apache is probably the best known example of heuristic filtering. What these filters are doing that the more basic ones aren't is looking at the message itself rather than the subject header. Both Bayesian and heuristic filters have an Achilles heel in that they depend for their filtering on frequency. Were a spammer to send a short message it would get past.

To further complicate things by punishing the "good guys," major Internet service providers started simply considering batch emailing as potential spam. What this did, however, was to disrupt opt-in products such as e-zines and newsletters. So that didn't work well. The spammers themselves found a way around it anyway. As they sent out their batch messages they inserted a program that produced a variant in each heading. Perhaps a word that didn't even make sense, but still individualized each message enough to have the batching not appear as batching.

Some non-profit Internet watchdog agencies started keeping lists of the IP addresses of spammers. When these addresses cropped up in mail they were blocked. The way around this for spammers was simple - they changed IP addresses. The result was even worse, in that those addresses then got handed out to completely innocent folks who now had problems sending e-mail. Then the spammers got really aggressive and started creating and distributing viruses allowing them to hijack IP addresses that weren't on the "spam" lists.

Where the answer seems to lie for many businesses and their sites is to bypass standard email communication altogether and resort to online feedback forms for electronic communication. Which of course doesn't resolve the antispam issue for private individuals who have no Web site of their own.
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March 17, 2010

Email Anti Spam And Virus Protection For Businesses

There Is Hope

With anti spam vendors offering low cost licensing, businesses can now afford advanced email spam and virus protection with a simple to use interface at a much lower cost. The great thing about technology is that as it evolves it gets faster, additional features and economical. Over the past few years the same evolution has taken place with anti spam technology and services. In large part this can be attributed to the open source software community plus enterprising companies enhancing the capabilities of this software and packaging it into easy to use anti spam appliances.

It is not practical to have anti spam software running on desktops in a networked business environment. Managing all employee junk email software at the desktop is not realistic. It can be a nightmare and costly in terms time and licensing.

Spam appliances sit in front of your email server so that when email comes in it will first go to the spam appliance and the email will be scanned for spam as well as viruses. The filter will block the message if it identified as know spam. If the filter is not sure if the email is genuine it will quarantine and hold the email at the filter and it will be stored until the recipient deletes it, releases it to their email box, or they can white list a trusted correspondent so that future emails will not be held back. This will greatly reduce the load on your email server and reduce your bandwidth needs. We have seen anti spam systems block up to 83% of incoming messages. This could help extend the life of your email server and push back the need for upgraded capacity.

Most virus outbreaks occur via email and for little cost an appliance can block viruses before they reach your network and user’s inboxes. This provides an extra layer of defense in addition to your current anti virus solution.

Businesses have two options if they use an appliance based solution for their spam and virus control. They can purchase and administer their own filter. This is a good option if you have a large number of employee mailboxes to protect and the technical staff to administer the spam appliance. Businesses also have the option to outsource their spam control as a hosted service. This is a good choice for smaller companies and if information technology is not your specialty.

If you purchase your own spam filter, a subscription to updates may also be required. Make sure you get upfront pricing for the add-ons that you will need. If you have more than 100 email users and the technical staff to maintain the spam appliance, buying your own filter may be your best option. Generally the basic model will work for most organizations. Large organizations with thousands of users will require a spam filter appliance with increases capacity and features. Spam appliances are designed to work with all mail systems but some do have specific enhancements for Exchange server Microsoft’s popular collaboration software and mail servers that support LDAP (light weight directory access protocol). Spam appliances use the LDAP protocol to verify recipients before delivering messages to your email server, this avoids consuming server resources.

If your business has five to one hundred employees, then an outsourced anti spam and virus filter service is going to be a good economical choice for your organization. Fees are based on the number of users and you only pay for what you use. You will not have hardware to buy, maintain, and upgrade. The upfront cost is minimal and most email filtering providers will let you try the service for free at first. Another added benefit to outsourcing your spam control is redundancy. It is important that you choose a provider that has their spam and virus filters collocated at secure internet data center facilities. Data centers provide redundant network connections and power, so if your email server or internet connection is down unexpectedly the spam appliance will hold your email until your email server becomes available, minus spam and viruses.

Anti spam technology is constantly improving and the costs are getting lower. With increased productivity and an added layer of defense against virus attacks, an anti spam appliance or service is something your business can not afford to be without.
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March 12, 2010

A Quick Look At Email Spam Filters

You must be eagerly finding for a way out to stop receiving Spam mails in your inbox. Take a quick look at email spam filters to get some idea on how to check spam. There are a number of email spam filters that you can use in your computer. For official purposes, you have anti server software spam where the spam filter is located in the server level to trap all email spam. They prevent them from reaching your inbox. The email spams not only slows down the performance of the server, but also occupies a lot of storage space. Emails are the easiest and the best way for these viruses to spread.

Working of Spam Filters

Anti spam software and anti spam solutions are essential to aid you in getting a clean inbox. The server spam filter or anti spam server is a software application that scans all the incoming email messages. With the help of their configuration, they identify Spam and prevent them from reaching your inbox. The spam mails not only eats away the storage space and make selecting your personal emails difficult, they also can contain viruses. Using anti spam filters is necessary as it saves both your time and money. But even when you are using anti spam filters, it is recommended to check the messages just to make sure that no personal message has been marked as spam. Even the server spam filters marks email as “false positive” to those that are identified as spam, but in reality they are valid messages. There are various anti spam programs that identifies Spam and sends it to the junk mail folder.

Not all spam filters work in the same way. Some of them are pre programmed where the know spammers are inserted. They accordingly block them. Some of the programs filter the emails based on the keywords used in the mails. Some of the email spam filters are configured and you can easily customize it or the network administrator can also customize it according to the requirement of the company.
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March 11, 2010

Problems With Spam? Learn How To Treat It

The first step in your antispam campaign may well be to understand spam and how it works.

Spam is usually defined as unsolicited e-mail that is delivered in bulk. It has become so prevalent because it's cheap, reaches the greatest number of folks in the least amount of time, and because it's unregulated. In the U.S. alone more than 50 million citizens are online, with their own Internet accounts.

For spammers this is an ideal situation. Even were it not to work, there's virtually no punishment other than subsequent inability to spam until a way is found around it. And ways are constantly found around just about everything we do in our antispam campaign. That's not to say you shouldn't try though.

Here are some of the things you can do:

First, don't respond - not even to say, "Hey you not nice person, get off my computer." First, it's a waste of time. As soon as the first batch of spam has been sent that spammer may very well have deleted that email address. It'll just bounce back. The second is that you're not talking to a live person anyway. And any response, no matter how negative, is noted by their system as a response. What this means to the spamming system is, "Hey this guy is interested. He answered our message. Let's send him the second message." If you have a provider that lets you note spam then do so. Block it if you want but that seldom really works. It's worth a shot, though, unless you're limited to the number of blocks you can place at which point you'll be forced to pick and choose.

If your provider allows spammers to get through what is going to happen eventually is that other sites will begin to block your provider if they do in fact police spam. Then you'll have trouble sending and receiving e-mail. That's when you step in and tell your provider that they start blocking spam or you're gone. There's nothing like an irate customer threatening cancellation to spur them into action. If they should not respond by blocking spam, then do follow through and change providers.

The primary principle for preventing spam is to avoid mailing to a list. We're all tempted to organize our emails into lists - business clients, friends, and so forth. Then we mail them all the same message. Saves time and effort. The problem here is not that you sent out one message but you didn't use the software necessary to hide each person's email from the others.

Not only does this set you up for spam but it's also just plain rude. It's like telling all those folks what your sister-in-law's address and phone number is without first asking her if it's okay to tell the buddy of your best friend's high school teacher where she lives. No, it's not. But where spam is concerned what happens is that a few of those folks are undoubtedly going to add everyone whose address they see to their own list, and send it on and on and on ad infinitum. It snowballs, and sooner or later there's a spammer who receives your name and your e-mail address. Digging in to spam and filtering service may be good as way out.Try it.

Don't sign up with a site that offers you an antispam service. "Sign up with us, they say, and we'll add you to an antispam list." Wrong! They're spammers and you're now on their list.
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What Is Spam?

You have probably seen an increase in the amount of junk mail which shows up in your email box, or on your favorite newsgroup. The activities of a small number of people are becoming a bigger problem for the Internet.

Chain letters that ask for money, whether for reports or just straight up, are illegal in the US whether they are in postal mail or e-mail. Report these frauds to your local US Postmaster. You may see e-mail coming from Nigeria or another African country, sent by someone who wants to use your bank account to transfer 20 million dollars. This is called a '419' scam and people have been killed over it.

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender. To the recipient, spam is easily recognizable. If you hired someone to read your mail and discard the spam, they would have little trouble doing it. How much do we have to do, short of AI, to automate this process? I think we will be able to solve the problem with fairly simple algorithms. In fact, I've found that you can filter present-day spam acceptably well using nothing more than a Bayesian combination of the spam probabilities of individual words. Using a slightly tweaked (as described below) Bayesian filter, we now miss less than 5 per 1000 spams, with 0 false positives.

One particularly nasty variant of email spam is sending spam to mailing lists (public or private email discussion forums.) Because many mailing lists limit activity to their subscribers, spammers will use automated tools to subscribe to as many mailing lists as possible, so that they can grab the lists of addresses, or use the mailing list as a direct target for their attacks.
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March 10, 2010

An Introduction To Spam Filters

Using spam filters is another very effective way of combating spam or junk mail. These programs use some keywords like ‘guaranteed’, ‘free’, etc and block any email with those words in them. But this has the disadvantage of sometimes blocking even important mails from your contacts and preventing those senders from sending mails to your address again. The way out is to use add-on spam filters which allow you to control the content that should be allowed into your inbox. This will save you a lot of time and energy as you no longer will have go through each and every email before identifying it as spam and eliminating it.

Spam filters can be installed on any computer system and aim at filtering junk and getting only relevant information to the user.

Setting up a simple spam filter can be very easy. Identify the section ‘filters’ in your email program and create a new filter. Lay down the rules or filter conditions for the new folder. These can be the parameters under which an email would be marked as spam and deleted from your inbox. If you prefer to look at the filtered mail before deleting it, you can choose the option to move it to another folder once it is filtered. Once you save the changes you have made in the new filter, it will be active.

You have a new variety of spam filters in the market now which are called ‘smarter filters’. While these fight and prevent spam very effectively, setting it up is a very complex process and is recommended only for technical experts.

New generation spam filters are different from traditional ones in that they go in for statistical data rather features of spam. These filters decide on spam by analyzing the entire email and comparing it with other already identified spam mails. The error margin for these filters is almost zero as more than 99% of scams are identified and eliminated through this method.
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March 8, 2010

Digging Into Spam And Filtering Services

If you talk to anyone who uses email, spam is something that is frequently on there mind. How often is it that you open your inbox checking for an email from your mom, and you end up with emails with subjective titles involving animals, and foreign objects.

There are ways to fight back against Spam, and one of the most popular is through the use of a spam filtering service. There is all different types of spam, and surprisingly not all of them involve email. Most spamming involves the advertising or otherwise promotion of a product, however this is not true in some cases.

Most common types of spamming include:
  • Email spam,
  • Link spam and
  • Search engine spam.

Email Spam is the simple act of sending out massive amounts of 'junk email' to anyone and everyone, in order to promote a product. Often times spamming has been exploited by more 'undergorund' industries such as the adult industry, but it would be unfair to say that other industries haven't used it as well.

Link Spam is a form of spamming or spamdexing that recently became publicized most often when targeting the increasingly popular weblogs. Weblogs is one of the biggest problems, however link spam also affects guestbooks, and online discussion boards. The purpose behind spamming these various places, is to display hyperlinks to a various page or product, which helps both with user exposure and search engine popularity.

Search engine spam is usually closely related with the above "link spam", as it is the process of creating countless numbers of pages, that populate search engines. Often times these pages will be full of garbage text and have no real value on there own. When a user visits them, they will either be re-directed to a completely different page, often times on another domain, or show prominent advertising.

Everyone can take their part in removing spam. The easiest way for a general user to not encourage spam, is not to use it. Spammers only spam, because it must be effective, otherwise they would find something better to do with their time. It is also recommended to get various levels of personal spam protection, which is often times included with anti-virus software. 3rd party solutions such as Hotmail, have very good spam detection, however often times spam will leak in, and in that case you can help hotmail out by notifying them of the occurence, so that they can better help protect you next time.
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