We have now implemented a new AntiSpam system on our servers. This will not stop 100% of all spam you receive, but will hopefully reduce the amount quite considerably.
Please click here for more information about how to enable this feature on your email accounts.
How does spam work?
At its simplest, spam is the mass mailing of a single email to thousands, millions or billions of recipients. The spam perpetrator ('spammer') obtains a list of valid email addresses from one of several sources, then fires out as many emails as he or she wants, hoping to get one or two percent of profitable responses. Commercial spam is like telemarketing on steroids. Instead of one call at a time, you can send thousands of emails in a very short period, with really no expense besides the bandwidth necessary to mail out all that email, or just the cost of the Internet connection itself.
How did you get on a spammer's mailing list?
Most commercial spam emails are sent using huge lists of email addresses, bought or otherwise acquired by the spammer's. It's important to remember that your email address (at least your main one) is a commodity on the Internet. This is why so many sites (especially those offering free services such as software downloads or contests) want your email address. If they have your address they can contact you later, and unless they specifically state that they will not, they can also pass the address on so that others can contact you. In the past, many online businesses have sold their customer lists to raise money or during the process of bankruptcy. If you are prompted for an email address and it does not specifically state that your address will not be used for marketing purposes, be wary. You might well become added to a spammer's list.
Create a new email account
If spam is really bad, ask us to create a new personal email address for you, tell everyone you know (people you wish to recieve email from) about the new address, give them several reminders that you are changing email addresses, then delete your old personal email address. This may seem a little drastic, but if you receive hundreds of spam emails every day, it might be time to take this step to eradicate it.
Also try not to give your email address to everyone who asks for it. Does your local bank really need your email address? Does your grocery store need it? Just because someone asks for it doesn't mean you have to give it to them. If it's a non-local company, or you are signing up for a mailing list, then they probably do need it. But remember, it's okay to leave the email address blank when filling out forms. Always ask yourself, do I want to be contacted by this person or company via email?
Junk email addresses
Maintain two email addresses: a personal email address (that you give to family, friends and business associates), and a spam email address (one you use whenever you're ordering something online, signing up for an email newsletter, or creating a profile on a website). For example, use a Hotmail account or the equivalent for your spam email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). If a spammer were to get a hold of that address, it would be OK. All the spam will go into your Hotmail account, empty the thing out once a month if you like, but otherwise you can happily let the junk mail accumulate in a tidy pile away from your view. Hotmail also has a great antispam filter built in, so it's easy to see what's spam and what's not. This practice leaves your personal email account spam free.
Opt-out of opt-ins
It is highly unlikely that any of the pre-checked offers from whomever you just signed up with are going to offer you anything besides more spam to clutter up your inbox. The sensible thing to do is to uncheck anything you are not sure you want to receive. This will help cut down on your spam.
Note that while many spam emails will offer a link to allow you to remove yourself from their mailing list, this is often not a sensible thing to do. While 'legitimate' commercial email purveyors may respect your wishes on this front, replying to the addresses provided may simply serve to confirm your email address as working and invite more spam.
Spam Blocking / Filtering Software
There are many commercial and freeware spam blocking software packages available. Spam blocking is a common concern, especially for businesses that run their own servers and are seeing precious bandwidth and storage space eaten up by awaiting unsolicited commercial email. For this reason, many high profile software companies like Symantec have weighed in with commercial spam blocking solutions.
Generally these software packages will give you the option to delete spam outright or funnel it into a 'junk' mail folder. To identify spam, they use one of three methods: Blocking spam by examining the contents of the email for words and combinations of words that indicate spam. Blocking spam by using an updateable list of known spam senders or blocking all email that does not come from approved sources ('white listing').
The major issue with all spam-blocking software is false positives. In an ideal world, your software would delete all spam before it even got to your inbox, and many current programs are capable of doing just that. The trouble is, they will also inevitably munch some email that you actually wanted to receive. The solution to this, as it seems to be with all methods of spam filtering, is to funnel the suspected spam into a separate folder where it can be checked occasionally without interfering with workflow.