By Joshua Erdman
Spam is an ever increasing never ceasing nuisance! I find Spam more intrusive than junk mail and even telemarketers. But it gets worse, at the rate that Spam is increasing, it is estimated by 2004 the amount of Spam will surpass legitimate e-mail.
We need a solution to Can Spam, I tried to create a Spam Hate Party and run for U.S. President the last presidential election. Even though I received over 20,000 votes I didn't meet the age requirement of 35. So until then, we have got to come up with another solution.
How to avoid getting spam in the first place:
When ordering online keep your eye open for a checkbox that says “send me your monthly newsletter or anything similar. Be sure to uncheck these boxes if you do not wish to receive their newsletter. It is safe to say that 95% of shopping sites out there will have a newsletter check box.
Spam Blocking utilities are becoming more popular these days and can be even more effective than filtering out the spam by manually creating filters in your e-mail client program. The technology to identify spam ranges from distributed fingerprints of each spam message (spamnet uses this technology), heuristics that look at the content of the message and the method in which it was sent, and finally by simple identification of keywords and phrases.
One client-side solution I came across was a free client software called SpamNet made by Cloudmark during its beta testing phase (it now sells for about $2.95 per month). This piece of art runs on Outlook and a few other popular mail programs and uses the peer-to-peer sharing technology that Napster was based on.
SpamNet works by participating in a peer-to-peer distribution of Spam mail fingerprints. When a person receives junk e-mail, they instruct SpamNet to 'block' it. The e-mail is then destroyed but first a fingerprint is generated from the e-mail and then distributed to all other users.
Spamnet reduced the amount of incoming Spam on my computer by about 80%. Cloudmark is also releasing a product called Authority which is a server version that removes Spam before it ever gets to the user's computer. Currently, Cloudmark will only market it to large enterprises (approximately 10,000 users or more) and for a very high price (about one dollar per user).
If you are not interested in other people's spam decisions effecting you and your e-mail I recommend Eliminate Annoying Spam. It is a filtering utility with the capability to start filtering your e-mail right out of the box. However, it only works with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.
Simple Spam Filters
This is the cheapest solution but also the highest maintenance because for every address that you filter for there will be 10 new ones in the next month. Below are some quick guidelines to follow:
What to filter:
Filter out all messages that do not specifically list your e-mail address. The only drawback is that most newsletters that you would sign up for are sent out in this fashion so you would be blocking them as well. To avoid this you will have to add exceptions.
Filter selected e-mails from people that send you spam.
Filter by keyword using specific strings that are highly unlikely to appear in a legitimate message.
Here are a few resources for setting up spam filters:
Server Side Filtering
For our business clients, Digital Foundation filters spam at the server. This helps the end user with dial-up access because they have less messages to download, and it is easier for administrators to manage. Please visit our Software Services Page for more information.
GFI - Security and Messaging Server Software
Cloudmark - Spam Filtering
Article last reviewed: 12/30/2005