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Three Ways of Dealing With Email Spam

It is said that on some days, up to 88% of email traffic is made up of spam (unsolicited emails trying to sell you something, usually sent out by an individual with a PC infected with a computer virus). As of yesterday (16 March 2011), this percentage may have temporarily dropped.

The reason for this is that a worldwide consortium of computer experts and law enforcement officials has conspired to block one of the biggest network of infected PCs (known as a botnet) that was often responsible for 50% of all spam on any given day. Whilst it is a great victory in this latest battle, the war is far from over and probably never will be.

So how can you reduce the amount of spam coming into your inbox? There is no simple answer to this. Email facilities provided by AB Publish are filtered by anti-spam programs but these are of only a limited effect. The reason for this is that if an anti-spam program is too effective, it can filter out genuine emails.

For instance, I once had a problem receiving emails from a colleague. After narrowing down the problem I found out they were being filtered out by an anti-spam program. He sent me many varying experimental emails so that we could narrow down what the problem was and eventually found that the part of the email causing the problem was the word "specialist". He had a signature at the end of all of his emails that included this word.

The word "specialist" has the letters "cialis" in the middle of it. Many spam emails are sent out selling cialis (an alternative to viagra). However, the filter was too agressive and was even filtering out genuine emails with this innocuous word in it.

So now we have established that even with a spam filter, it can never remove every spam email. But there are several things you can do to minimise the problem.

1. Do not publish your email address on your website

This may sound a bit drastic, but all you need is a simple contact form on your website and you can respond to the sender with your email address. There is no need to publish your email address. If you do, it will become a magnet for spammers who will trawl it from the Internet.

2. Be careful with whom you subscribe

Some of the lesser known websites may sell your email address to spammers. So if you wish to sign up with a firm who you have never heard of before, then sign up with an online email address such as Google or Yahoo which you can easily delete if it becomes a problem.

3. Do not respond to spam

If you reply to a spam email to vent your anger then you are playing right into their hands. They now know your email address is genuine and its value in their eyes has shot right up. Neither should you buy anything from someone who has sent an unsolicited email. If we all stopped doing this, they wouldn't go to all the trouble of creating the spam in the first place.

Thu 17 March 2011 15:37:38

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