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In reply to: What can I do to stop spam? by Lee Koo (ADMIN)  Moderator

Here are the selected submissions grouped in one post. Read through them and place your votes in the newsletter poll.

Answers:

Dealing with SPAM...


Jo,

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, UNDER PAIN OF DEATH, NEVER, EVER, EVER SEND A REPLY TO SPAM!!!!!!! Not even if you think your life depends on it.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I'll tell you why. Spammers sometimes send out an email with a destination that's "close" to your email address. For instance, your email might be [email protected] The spammer might send one out to [email protected] - note the extra S. Many email servers, thinking they're doing you a favor, will automatically forward such emails your way, thinking the sender may have misspelled your email address by mistake. It happens.

So what happens when you open spam and worse yet, send a reply? You're doing something that puts a smile on the spammer's face. You're VALIDATING your email address. Even if that spammer is "honest" enough to not send anything your way, they WILL sell their list to others and now they can actually TARGET you for far more spam than you can shake a stick at.

And if you think that's bad enough, it gets worse. MANY bits of spam have nasty payloads attached to them in the form of viruses and other crapware that can infect and slow down your system. All you have to do is open them and due to vulnerabilities in Windows, IE, Firefox, etc..., you can get infected - even if your AV is up to date.

Third, they may also contain tracking elements - tiny 1 pixel x 1 pixel graphic images that log your opening and downloading of the email. More often than not, they log your IPA address.

Even if the email itself is "harmless", more often than not you won't find any "unsubscribe" links - just a link that WILL more often than not lead to very dangerous web sites that can infect your system with some sort of downloader or other nasty malware.

Changing your email address is not a long term solution either. Ok... You will, no doubt, in the short term, make your inbox seem quite empty. But as you pass out the new email address to the sites you normally visit, and if any of those sites are unscrupulous and desperate enough to SELL their email lists to other people, odds are, you'll be back to square ONE - namely the vast volume of spam in the inbox. This, btw, is more often than not how the whole spam cycle starts. You visit a site, you sign up for a newsletter, and they sell your email address as a part of their list to one of their "affiliates" who in turn may sell it to someone less scrupulous. And that person will sell it to even lower forms of human scum and so forth.

Sadly, there's no easy way to stop spam. As long as even 1 in a million people actually open and out of desperation, stupidity, or by way of some other brain fart, click on the link and god help them spend money on the spammer's sites, the spam will keep on multiplying.

As PT Barnum once wisely spake, "There's a sucker born every minute." Unfortunately, this is still true. If it weren't true, spam wouldn't be an issue. Spammers, like anyone else in business, do it because there's money in it for them.

The bottom line - it's best to delete spam wholesale, sight unseen, punitively, without mercy or giving it a second thought. It's a fact of modern life like getting up in the morning and going to work. And done right, you never have to get past the sender's name and the subject of the email. Just highlight the whole batch, look through it and find and unmark those that are legit and send the rest of the spam where it belongs - oblivion.


http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=265952&messageID=2595024#2595024


Submitted by Wolfie2k5

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Answer:

Spam and Junk Mail


Unfortunately the only absolute, surefire way to stop spam is to change your email address and even that is only temporary until the spammers find you again. But don’t get discouraged, there are many things your can do to ease the situation and cut down on the junk mail hassle. There are many ways and reasons that you can start getting spam and junk mail. In many cases you have been getting them all along but your Internet Service Provider has been blocking them for you and thus you have not seen them. Somewhere along the way your email address has been harvested. You may have signed up for something on the internet, your email address may have been stolen or sold, picked up from a website, directory or forum, it may have even been nabbed by a virus or spyware from someone else who had you in their address book, it may have even been simply guessed. It just happens. There is a constant battle between the spammers and those trying to stop it. No sooner do the filters find a way to stop it and the spammers find a new way to beat the system and they start coming though again. The one thing you do NOT want to do is respond to any of these junk mails or click on the Unsubscribe section. This just confirms to them that your email address is valid. The ONLY time you should use the unsubscribe link is for legitimate emails that you just don’t want to receive anymore. This would include emails from WELL KNOWN companies such as Stores, Airlines, travel agencies, clubs and organizations that you once had dealings with. They will gladly remove you from their mailing list just for the asking, but expect it to take a few weeks.

There are two sides to dealing with spam and junk email. First is PREVENTING it in the first place and the second is the CURE or blocking, moving, deleting and dealing with what is actually coming in.

PREVENTION – Preventing junk mail from ever being sent to you is the best possible approach and there are a few things that you can do.

1. Change your email address – This will stop spam, but it is not usually a very practical approach for most people and is often only temporary until your new email address has been discovered. It can be a real pain having to inform family, friends and coworkers that you have changed your email address and then trying to change the email address that you used to sign up for various websites just adds to the headache.

2. Address Posting – Avoid posting your email address anywhere on the internet. Placing you email address on a website or in forums, directories or blogs only makes it easier for spammers to harvest your email address.

3. Get a second Email Address – A good way to keep your primary email address private and clear of junk mail is to get a second email address. Most internet providers will give you up to about 7 free email accounts. Use one address exclusively for communicating with family, friends or business associates and do not use it or give it out to anyone else. Use a second email address for all other things like online purchases, registering software, joining websites, chat rooms and forums. This will at least help keep the junk mail separated.


CURING – Once you start getting Junk and Spam mail it is virtually impossible to actually stop it from being sent to you. You will usually find that it comes in spurts and may go through heavy and light periods. Since you can not stop the emails from being sent you have to find a way block or at least make it easier to deal with.

1. Unsubscribe – For legitimate email solicitations that are coming from known companies that you simply just don’t want anymore, go ahead an click on the unsubscribe section in the email. If you are still getting emails from Monster.com from when you were looking for a new job 5 years ago, now is the time to unsubscribe to this. Again this will do you no good for Viagra emails or body part enlargement solicitations.

2. Software Spam/Junk Mail Filters - There are many ways to filter, block, delete and move junk email depending on how or what method you use to read your email.

3. Outlook and Outlook Express Users - If you are using older versions of Outlook or Outlook Express for reading email than you might want to consider upgrading. Starting with Outlook 2003, Microsoft started incorporating a built-in junk mail filter which will move much of the obvious spam to a separate folder for you. The new version of Outlook Express which is now called just MAIL in Windows Vista also has a built-in junk mail filter. NOTE: To keep these filters working correctly, you need to run Windows and office updates every once and awhile. Outlook and Outlook Express also offer you the ability to define rules and filters on your own to delete or move mail based on specific words or content within the emails or subject line. This may or may not be useful depending on the type of junk mail you are receiving. For example: I you set a rule to delete any email containing the word Viagra, it will not pick it up if the sender changes it to V*i*agr*A.

4. AntiSpam Software – Many of the Antivirus Software companies such as Norton and McAfee also produce Antispam software that you can either purchase separately or as a part of complete internet security suite. These programs can be set to delete or more often, move suspected junk mail to a separate folder. You still may have to take a quick look through this junk folder every once and awhile to make sure that there is nothing in there that you really need. The best way to do it is to download a free or trial version and if you like the way it works you can purchase it.

5. 3rd Party Filtering Services – One of the best and most thorough methods of dealing with spam and junk mail is subscribing to a 3rd party internet based filtering service. These services specialize in filtering email and are very good at it. Some typically scan both your incoming and outgoing emails for spam, spyware and viruses so that you don’t have to worry about it. If you have ever had your account blacklisted because your computer was infected and was sending out spam, you know what headaches this can prevent. One such service that some of my business customers are using is www.messagelabs.com, but there are many others out there.

6. Whitelist Service – If you receive email from a very small group of people, then subscribing to a whitelist service could be a good choice. But for this to work you need to actually submit or approve all the email addresses of the people that you want to allow email to come in from. Not very effective if you receive tons of mail from all kinds of unknown sources.

7. ISP Filtering – Most Internet Service Providers have some form of spam filtering. Some are better than others but you must go into your account to make sure the settings are how you want them. In many cases you have control over things like the level of filtering, whether or not to keep filtered mail or automatically delete it or send it on to you but mark it with [SPAM] in the subject line. Even if you are using Outlook or Outlook express, you should still check your ISP account to see what service is being provided as well as what options you have.

FYI – Speed up the deleting of email. Depending on the exact program or method you use to read your email, you may be able to use the Ctrl and Shift keys to help select more than one item at a time to be deleted. Try selecting a message and then while holding down the shift key, select another message further down the page. In many cases this will allow you to select a whole group of messages to be deleted at one time.

Dana
Wayland Computer

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=265952&messageID=2595863#2595863

Submitted by waytron

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Answer:

Never - Ever Click Unsubscribe Unless...


Hi Jo B., Hating Spam is a very near and dear subject to me, I hope this is not too much of a read but I think you will find it enlightening. Before I start I give this advice: Never ever click on an unsubscribe link or respond to a spam message directly by email or web. All you do is tell the person that sent the spam that you have read their message and they will send you more of the stuff.

About 5 years ago I got so upset at my ever increasing problem and decided to wage war with the Spammers. My problem had grown into a 300 message per day problem telling me I was not big or hard enough; plus many of them were loaded with virus exploits and just viewing them to look for a way to get off the list was dangerous. After countless hours of running tracers on IP’s and filing complaints with ISP’s I was able to get the problem down to about 15 per day. I stopped filing complaints and it slowly grew back to about 100 per day. To tell the truth, if you have nothing better to do with your life and are willing to learn Chinese you can take this approach. What I am going to do is offer a 3 fold solution for you to put into practice based from my experience. The Spam will more than likely never go away without changing your address but you can reduce it and gain control.

Part 1: Understand how you got on the list in the first place.

To begin with you will never get control of the problem until you can get control of your own internet activities. My spam came from a combination of blind trust and public exposure of my email address. I had a website and on every page I had placed my email address for contact; later on I discovered that spammers have web crawlers going from site to site harvesting addresses. This was a big source of the spam.

Another time I was developing a website and we did a web promotion; I gave my email address to the promotion company which over night registered the website with 1000 search engines and link pages. The next morning I was greeted with over 3000 spam messages of which I had to setup filters to sort out the important ones from the junk. These messages continued on for several weeks and then declined to about 30 or so per day. After sorting out the messages I started to respond to them by clicking the links and registering passwords and stuff; this process identified several serious offenders of which I eventually put on a black list.

I never could figure out where I got the porn & enlargement spam and then discovered that while signing up for singles and social networking sites my email address was getting sold to the spammers. Some of these sites and especially any site that says “Adult” somewhere on their homepage are non-trustworthy. Even if you close your account the damage has been done. Never ever sign up for a website without fully examining the content and reading the privacy statement.

About 3 years ago I got a new job and a clean email address came with it. During the course of promoting my services by looking for specific business contacts via websites and emailing them a private message from the contact person on the site I discovered another way of getting on a spam list. That is the “Form Based Contact” type of systems you see on what should be a perfectly legitimate website, I emailed a site and suddenly started getting the “Hot Stock” type of spam! I examined my previous day’s activity and discovered which website started spamming me by putting 2 + 2 together. When I went back to the site looking for contact info I saw no email address anywhere on the site only and input form and a phone number. The phone number was my solution to solving the new problem since I had identified the source. I called them up and got in touch with the business owner and proceeded to crawl his case by threatening him with a lawsuit. He totally acted surprised and assured me he would discuss the matter with his webmaster. I felt really good after the call and even better when the spam stopped. So if you have a clean address, stop the spam at the source before it gets out of control. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, get a Skype account and start calling the websites sending you the mail when possible and really give them an earful.

Here is my first real piece of advice: Open up a junk email account for testing the trust worthiness of the websites you give your address to or register with. After testing them, a legitimate list or site like “c|net” will have a place and truly honor your list subscriptions faithfully. After you know you can trust them you can always log in and then change your email account. If you never give them your private address to begin with you will never get junk back. Also if you have clicked on any links in the messages you will need to clean your computer of all viruses. Viruses are beyond the scope of my post and you should enlist the help of an expert.

Part 2: Get control of your inbox.

There are some absolutely wonderful products that will pre-read your email and help you clean up your inbox. Search Download.com and you will find anti-spam tools that are both pay and free. Personally I did not pay to get the spam and so I refuse to pay someone to get rid of it, there are good people out there who hate spam as much as I do but also have the ability of designing software. Take Robin Keir for example; he has produced a free anti-spam tool that pre-reads your email and tags it so you can setup one filter in your email client and automatically place all of your junk in a junk mail folder or trash bin where it belongs. The tool is called K9 and actually gets smarter the more you use it. It reads your Pop3 email and you tell it what is good and what is bad and it builds 2 dictionaries a spam dictionary and a good email dictionary. When it reads your mail it checks it against the dictionaries grades it and then tags the message so you can setup a filter to move it into the junk folder. This software also checks against a blacklist and you can build your own blacklist along with using a whitelist. K9 also has a safe reader so you can examine the spam safely and easily look at the html code underneath the message and see the real source then determine if you ever signed up for their list. This program is amazing as it will kill your spam at a 98% accuracy ratio and do it free. You can get it here:

http://keir.net/k9.html or on download.com with this link http://www.download.com/K9/3000-2382_4-10636520.html?tag=lst-0-4

Part 3: Unsubscribe and Complain

This is where you can have some fun if you like to hear people squirm. Frankly I do not believe that spam would exist to the level it does if people paying for the mass email service would stop purchasing the service. As a large community I truly believe if we start calling the website owners and raise some H-E-Double-Toothpicks about the crap, collectively we can make a difference. If the website owners’ grief surpasses their profit they will surely quit paying for more of it. The Blue Frog Saga is a perfect example of this kind of effort. This is a really fun story to read up on in the c|net and ZDnet discussion groups. I know this much; it worked and a real bad spammer located in Russia had a temper tantrum and used his illegal botnet to bring down the Blue Frog website and product. I rode this saga through and granted when the spammer had his fit my spam rose to an all time high, but after his temper tantrum was over my spam level dropped to an all time low! This is proof that collectively we can make a difference and the source of the spam is actually 3 or 4 spammers with one of them more than likely in Russia.

I don’t want to forget about the one piece of spam that when dealt with properly will shut down a lot within a New York Heartbeat. Look for the spam selling the spam services. Call that phone number and really give them the business for sending you spam and demand they purge you from their list; along with this complain to their ISP as you will more than likely find a real email address in the message. Believe me, this will work but expect a temper tantrum and some very vindictive response. I have done this and what happens is they take your email off the list but then put your address in the To:, Cc: and Bcc: section of the mail. They will also then try to draw a complaint if you have a website by spamming with your email throughout the email message. Don’t’ worry this will eventually stop too.

I am going to summarize this with these points: 1) Protect your email address from exposure to anyone you do not know. 2) Never click on a link or try to use the unsubscribe method without first making sure you actually subscribe to the mail. 3) Get control of your inbox by using spam filtering software or white lists. 4) Complain to the real source of the spam, the person who has paid to have it sent and the actual spammer. They just might have a temper tantrum but that will go away and if you have proper filters running just let them scream and kick. Oh, don’t get bent out of shape and stressed over this; let’s have some fun and make these creeps squirm. That is Uncle Buck’s way of dealing with the issue.


http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=265952&messageID=2595209#2595209

Submitted by Uncle Buck

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Answer:

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Spam

Spam - emails which cost next to nothing to send out (often because it is done using hijacked computers) advertising anything... are the bane of many an online life. Most are deleted but a tiny few respond and make it worthwhile. If no one responded, spam would be unprofitable and cease, so even if you do want something advertised in spam, find somewhere else to get it (though I have no idea where else I'd find xxxxx enlargement pills if I felt the need).

Somewhere you may have signed up for something. Or put your email on a forum post. You may have agreed to receive emails from "partners." You may have put your email on a web site. It's even possible one of the kajillion viruses that spreads by email found your address on someone's computer and sent it back to head office for further exploitation (as well as trying to send you a virus). Whatever the source, your email gets added to a list of "hot prospects," sold to spammers (and list vendors) and then the flood starts.

Sometimes it does get so bad an email address becomes useless, but there are ways to handle it. And also it seems spam tends to wane. A fresh email (to spammers) quickly becomes an old one. Once the address has been harvested, the spam will never stop, but eventually the flood will ease, unless you keep becoming a fresh name.

Now you have to recognize there are (at least) 2 types of commercial mail. Some is (more or less) legitimate, run responsibly and they will honor an unsubscribe request. These emails look polished ... you might see something like it in your kerbside mailbox.

Much is illegitimate, and this is the real problem. These are the scruffy ads. a couple of lines, with bizarre punctuation and misspellings or a picture to bypass spam filters.

You asked if you should unsubscribe. DO NOT REPEAT NOT UNDERLINE NOT try to unsubscribe from this type of spam. It tells them your read our email and the spam will increase tenfold. I tried it. It did.

What can you do about it? There is no perfect solution, but lots of things help.

First, i have a free junk mail account I use when signing up for lists of various sorts. I only go to it when there should be something there I actually want - and a search will find it. This keeps my real email relatively free. And most mail there is deleted unread, unscanned, unloved, unwanted.

Now you didn't tell us which email you use. If it is a web-based email they mostly provide spam filters which you can configure and do a fair job of sorting wheat from chaff. You might need to go to an email settings page and turn it on and set the sensitivity of the filters. With the filter sensitivity set high, quite a few spam mails still get to my in box, and the occasional good email get spam canned, so I still have to check.

On a side note - I'd suggest you don't use email provided by your ISP. [email protected], [email protected] and so on. You said you didn't want to change your email to avoid spam because it's inconvenient... If you change your ISP you lose your email. That's why I use one of the free services for my main email - it's always there however i get online. If you want more credibility than a yahoo mail offers, you can always get your own domain for email - [email protected]

Back to spam. If you're not using web-based email, you are probably using an email client (outlook, outlook express, thunderbird, etc) to download mail from a server. Thee are several things you can do here.

Microsoft has outlook filters you can install to sort your mail according to what Microsoft considers spam. These seem to be updated periodically and tend to get less effective as time for the next update approaches. I've heard they work fairly well.

You can set up a white list (allowed) or black list (banned) of email addresses or domains. Neither approach works very well. Since spam comes from so many addresses, often fake, it takes too long to ban them all - and then even if you did - new ones appear. White list also is almost useless. You friends can't say "here's his email - drop him a line" because it won't get through (unless they warn you and you can add the new address...). You can set filters (if subject contains viagra, send to spam) but spammers don't spell check very well and [email protected] slips through. These may be good for organizing legitimate mail, but not spam.

This leaves spam filters - programs you can install to work with your email client and sort spam from real mail. There are dozens out there. I use Cactus Spam Filter, available from Download.com. It has to be trained (told what is spam and what isn't) and then does a pretty good job. As spam fashions change, you just need to open the training window and identify the new spam. It is a fast learner, and you do not have to wait for "them" to create a new spam definition file before it can catch the new stuff.

Perhaps in the future there will be a secure email system where the headers can't be faked. Where you can always tell exactly who sent it to you and knock on their door if you want to register your displeasure. Until then, you need to protect your email address as much as possible, use spam tools to control the flood, and be prepared to use that delete key.

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=265952&messageID=2595445#2595445

Submitted by redking44

 

1