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Simple Steps To Defeating Spam

(category: Spam, Word count: 1461)
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GMail SPAM filter is fighting a losing battle. I am doing some ANTI-SPAM testing. For the past 4 months I have been very public with my Gmail email address, signing up for newsletters, using it on forms, and sharing it publicly on forums, blogs, and discussion boards. I expected to get SPAMMED to death, that's exactly what's beginning to happen. Everyday, I receive about 20 junk emails. I know that is small, but for someone who is use to never seeing SPAM in their inbox, it's a quite bit.

I did this sort of testing, once before with Yahoo! Mail, and I took the time to get rid of all my SPAM (from coming into the inbox). I'll share my secret.

1. First, you should have 3 email addresses; (@.hotmail, @.yahoo, @.gmail). These 3 email addresses should represent your public (personal) email address, your business email address, and your spam catcher). Remember the less you publicly use your email address, the less SPAM you'll have.

2. If you wish to use your public or business email address, each site you travel to, (which you plan or must share your email address) you should check the site Privacy Policy. You don't have to study the policy, but finger through it and see what their policy is about sharing your information. If the policy doesn't have this clause or the site doesn't have a Privacy Policy (visibly linked) then be skeptical and assume this site plans to share your information. Many sites claim to be legit and have a privacy policy in place, but through the backdoor they sell your information, so never put all trust into the privacy policy, just make good judgment. The best thing about managing your SPAM is that you can speculate how someone got your email address, because your amount of SPAM is down to a minimum and you are securely managing your email address. Any place you need to enter your email address and you feel skeptical about using your public or business email address then you should enter your spam catcher email.

3. Your public (personal) email address should be used for public trusted sources, such as: on forums, discussion boards which you frequent. You should use this address only on sites which you trust and visit on a day-to-day or occasional basis. Your public email address should be used for sign-up forms (only sites you want information from). Your public email address should also be used to subscribe to newsletters which you initiate. Your public (personal) email address should be your most commonly used email address for basic day-to-day communication. This is the email address you should share with family, friends, and co-workers.

4. Your business email address should be used for business contacts. In fact, your business email should NOT be a free email address, it should be an email address with your company, your website, or your business name (example: @.yourcompanyname.com). If you don't have a company, business, or website then use a free email address and make this your email address for professional purposes, such as putting this email on your resume, etc. This should be for extremely trusted sources. You should only share your business email address with individuals you connect with one-on-one on a professional or business level. Example: You shouldn't share this email address with the customer service staff of a company, but you should share this email address with the CEO of the company. This is your exclusive email address. In some instances you may share your business email address with the customer service staff, but the source should be trusted and you should make good judgment. Example: If the company plans to send you sensitive information via email, like money market account information. Your business email can be used for signing up at sites which you will use your credit card and is a highly respectable and honest site, world renown. This email should only be used with those whom you trust with your information and trust will not share or send you advertisements. You should only use this email address to get company related information or information which directly affects you or your business on a consumer or business level. You should NEVER publish your business email address on any website, forum, discussion board, or any other publicly available media.

5. Your spam catcher email address is the email address you should use at any time you feel skeptical, when you don't trust a site, or when a site doesn't provide you information that you wish to receive. Many sites have products, programs, or services which you want, but to register or to move forward you must enter an email address (and most of the time the email address must be valid and confirmed), therefore you should have a spam catcher email address, for non-trusted sources. Using your spam catcher email address you could easily register at any site while using a valid email address, which you can log into and confirm the authenticity of the email addresses.

6. Use the 'Report Spam' feature of your email client. Most online and now even software (local install) email clients have a 'Report Spam' feature which blocks the delivery of future mail from the sender. It is important to make good use of this feature, because it will help keep your inbox free of unwanted mail. The only email addresses you are worried about receiving spam from is your personal email address and business email address, the spam catcher email address should not be an account you log into daily, you should only log into your spam catcher email address to confirm an email. At this point you shouldn't receive any spam into your business email address account, if you followed the steps above, but if you do then make sure you use the 'Report Spam' feature so you can block future delivery. Use the 'Report Spam' feature immediately when you receive spam so there is no delay and to be sure you don't miss a spam message. In your personal email address account you will probably receive spam messages or unwanted mail, if you do then make sure you use the 'Report Spam' feature each time you receive a piece of unwanted mail, within a few months and good email address management (following the steps above) you should never or rarely see any spam coming into your inbox.

If you receive any mail into your inbox, then make sure you use the "Report Spam" feature within the email client. This should soon eliminate any mail you do not wish to have. Following the steps above is imperative to getting a good clean inbox. Managing your email address is ultimately your responsibility and you should know who you share your information with. Most people use only one email address for all their communication, this technique is not the best option. You should use at least 3 email addresses adhering to the steps above. You can simply log into one account, your personal email address or your business email address and just have the email from the other forwarded to the account you log into most. You can also send email from the account under either your personal or business email address. Setting up forwarders and multiple sender accounts is not a hard task in the 3 major online email clients. For some additional steps may need to be taken, like with Yahoo! you must have a paid account to forward your email, but from Gmail you can automatically forward your email where you like for FREE. So, if you forward your Gmail email to your Yahoo! account and setup multiple accounts within your Yahoo! Account then you are in good shape. Use the Hotmail account as your spam catcher. This is just a thought, but you can set it up any way you like, its your preference. Currently, I have a paid Yahoo! account and I use my Yahoo! account as my business email address. I use my Gmail account as my personal email, and I use my Hotmail account as my spam catcher. My Yahoo! mail is forwarded directly to my Gmail account, and I have a sender account setup in my Gmail account, which will send mail as my Yahoo! email address. I use Gmail Notify and know instantly whenever I receive new mail from either my public (personal) or business email address. I rarely log into my Hotmail account, only to confirm an email or just to login so my account doesn't close. This proactive approach has kept my inbox clean for years and now I'm sure it will help you with your fight against SPAM!

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Google S Tag To Remove Content Spamming

(category: Spam, Word count: 1266)
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Content spamming, in its simplest form, is the taking of content from other sites that rank well on the search engines, and then either using it as-it-is or using a utility software like Articlebot to scramble the content to the point that it can't be detected with plagiarism software. In either case, your good, search-engine-friendly content is stolen and used, often as part of a doorway page, to draw the attention of the search engines away from you.

Everyone has seen examples of this: the page that looks promising but contains lists of terms (like term - term paper - term papers - term limits) that link to other similar lists, each carrying Google advertising. Or the site that contains nothing but content licensed from Wikipedia. Or the site that plays well in a search but contains nothing more than SEO gibberish, often ripped off from the site of an expert and minced into word slaw.

These sites are created en masse to provide a fertile ground to draw eyeballs. It seems a waste of time when you receive a penny a view for even the best-paying ads - but when you put up five hundred sites at a time, and you've figured out how to get all of them to show up on the first page or two of a lucrative Google search term, it can be surprisingly profitable.

The losers are the people who click on these pages, thinking that there is content of worth on these sites - and you. Your places are stolen from the top ten by these spammers. Google is working hard to lock them out, but there is more that you can do to help Google.

Using The Antispam Tag

But there is another loser. One of the strengths of the Internet is that it allows for two-way public communication on a scale never seen before. You post a blog, or set up a wiki; your audience comments on your blog, or adds and changes your wiki.

The problem? While you have complete control over a website and its contents in the normal way of things, sites that allow for user communication remove this complete control from you and give it to your readers. There is no way to prevent readers of an open blog from posting unwanted links, except for manually removing them. Even then, links can be hidden in commas or periods, making it nearly impossible to catch everything.

This leaves you open to the accusation of link spam - for links you never put out there to begin with. And while you may police the most recent several blogs you've posted, no one polices the ones from several years ago. Yet Google still looks at them and indexes them. By 2002, bloggers everywhere were begging Google for an ignore tag of some sort to prevent its spiders from indexing comment areas.

Not only, they said, would bloggers be grateful; everyone with two-way uncontrolled communication - wikis, forums, guest books - needed this service from Google. Each of these types of sites has been inundated with spam at some point, forcing some to shut down completely. And Google itself needed it to help prevent the rampant spam in the industry.

In 2005, Google finally responded to these concerns. Though their solution is not everything the online community wanted (for instance, it leads to potentially good content being ignored as well as spam), it does at least allow you to section out the parts of your blog that are public. It is the "nofollow" attribute.

"Nofollow" allows you to mark a portion of your web page, whether you're running a blog or you want to section out paid advertising, as an area that Google spiders should ignore. The great thing about it is that not only does it keep your rankings from suffering from spam, it also discourages spammers from wasting your valuable comments section with their junk text.

The most basic part of this attribute involves embedding it into a hyperlink as . This allows you to manually flag links, such as those embedded in paid advertising, as links Google spiders should ignore. But what if the content is user-generated? It's still a problem because you certainly don't have time to go through and mark all those links up.

Fortunately, blogging systems have been sensitive to this new development. Whether you use WordPress or another blogging system, most have implemented either automated "nofollow" links in their comment sections, or have issued plugins you can implement yourself to prevent this sort of spamming.

This does not solve every problem. But it's a great start. Be certain you know how your user-generated content system provides this service to you. In most cases, a software update will implement this change for you.

Is This Spamming And Will Google Block Me?

There's another problem with the spamming crowd. When you're fighting search engine spam and start seeing the different forms it can take - and, disturbingly, realizing that some of your techniques for your legitimate site are similar - you have to wonder: Will Google block me for my search engine optimization techniques?

This happened recently to BMW's corporate site. Their webmaster, dissatisfied with the dealership's position when web users searched for several terms (such as "new car"), created and posted a gateway page - a page optimized with text that then redirects searchers to an often graphics-heavy page.

Google found it and, rightly or wrongly, promptly dropped their page rank manually to zero. For weeks, searches for their site turned up plenty of spam and dozens of news stories - but to find their actual site, it was necessary to drop to the bottom of the search, not easy to do in Googleworld.

This is why you really need to understand what Google counts as search engine spam, and adhere to their restrictions even if everyone else doesn't. Never create a gateway page, particularly one with spammish data. Instead, use legitimate techniques like image alternate text and actual text in your page. Look for ways to get other pages to point to your site - article submission, for instance, or directory submission. And keep your content fresh, always.

While duplicated text is often a sign of serious spammage, the Google engineers realize two things: first, the original text is probably still out there somewhere, and it's unfair to drop that person's rankings along with those who stole it from them; and second, certain types of duplicated text, like articles or blog entries, are to be expected.

Their answer to the first issue is to credit the site first catalogued with a particular text as the creator, and to drop sites obviously spammed from that one down a rank. The other issue is addressed by looking at other data around the questionable data; if the entire site appears to be spammed, it, too, is dropped. Provided you are not duplicating text on many websites to fraudulently increase your ranking, you're safe. Ask yourself: are you using the same content on several sites registered to you in order to maximize your chances of being read? If the answer is yes, this is a bad idea and will be classified as spamdexing. If your content would not be useful to the average Internet surfer, it is also likely to be classed as spamdexing.

There is a very thin line between search engine optimization and spamdexing. You should become very familiar with it. Start with understanding hidden/invisible text, keyword stuffing, metatag stuffing, gateway pages, and scraper sites.

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Problems With Spam Learn How To Treat It

(category: Spam, Word count: 580)
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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.

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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Strategies To Fight Email Spam

(category: Spam, Word count: 588)
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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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Computers And Consumers Understanding Avoid Identity Theft

(category: Spam, Word count: 593)
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Computers and Consumers - Understanding & Avoid Identity Theft

The Internet has given over a billion people, worldwide, a way to instantly find information. The number of threats to a consumer's security increases as the consumer connects with more computers, companies, and people online. The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), the nation's consumer protection agency, says that all Internet users should understand the importance of online security and should take measures to protect themselves.

Why the Need for Security & How to Protect Yourself

The Computer: Part of a computers sophistication lies in its ability to connect with other computers over the Internet in order to bring you information. When it is connected with other computers, it opens itself up for the transmission of information, which can create vulnerability for the computer. Hackers can connect to the computer, scan it for open ports, and gain access to unauthorized information about the computer user.

Most computers have an Intrusion Detection System ("IDS") that monitors the computer for suspicious activity. When suspicious activity is detected, the IDS sends an alert that an intrusion has occurred.

An IDS alone will not protect your computer from incoming hackers and viruses. Computer users also need to protect themselves with firewalls, which create a barrier between hackers and the computer and help to prevent access to unauthorized information.

The Computer User: The computer user can also accidentally open doors that will lead to a security breach, such as when the user is using the Internet to make purchases. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. e-commerce sales for the year 2007 were $136.4 billion. Although the Internet has made shopping a whole lot easier, it has also increased the number of instances of identity theft. A study conducted by the US Department of Justice reports that 6.4 million households experienced some kind of identity theft in 2005. Consumers also open themselves up to increased junk e-mail called SPAM when shopping online. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize your risk when shopping online.

Be careful where you post your personal email address. Consumers using the Internet increase their chances of receiving SPAM e-mail each time they provide their e-mail address to make a purchase. As mentioned earlier, hackers can access consumer information by scanning ports that are not secure. Consumers can help protect themselves by only providing information that is necessary when making the purchase. There are companies designed to help protect consumers from e-commerce identity theft and SPAM.

When providing payment information, consumers should always make sure the site is secure. An easy way to determine whether a site is secure is to look at the web address bar at the top of the screen. The http, which precedes the address, should change to https when checking out on a shopping site. The 's' indicates that the consumer is shopping from a secure page.

Finally, a consumer should avoid using ATM/debit cards to make purchases, as the breach of this information could lead to unauthorized access of the consumer's bank account information. Use a credit card instead. Most credit card companies will work on behalf of their client, should a hacker steal their credit card information. In many cases, the consumer will only be responsible for $50 of the transactions.

When a consumer shops wisely on the Internet and acts in conjunction with private Internet security sites and the FTC they will decrease the chances of being one of the six million households affected by identity theft.

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How To Stop Spambots Harvesting Your Email Address

(category: Spam, Word count: 726)
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It's an unfortunate thing, but the internet certainly has its share of unscrupulous people. In my opinion, the worst amongst these are those that deploy software robots to roam the web and harvest email addresses from web pages. These addresses are then collated into huge databases and sold for the purpose of spam.

Now we all hate spam and anything that can be done to reduce it is very worthwhile. This is not rocket science and a basic knowledge of html and how to cut and paste will see you protected from the spambots. All we are going to use is a bit of javascript.

First, open Notepad or any text editor and then copy and paste the following into the file.

/* This script provides for a straightforward email address in a web page.

In your web page add the following:-

blocker("insert first part of email address") */

function blocker(name)

{

var domain ="yourdomainname.com";

document.write(" + name + '@' + domain + ");

}

/* This script adds a subject field to the email.

function blockersubject(name,subject)

{

var domain ="yourdomainname.com";

document.write(" + name + '@' + domain + ");

}

/* This script is for using as an "Email Us" or like in a menu system or on a page.

Insert the following in your web page:-

blocker2('First Part of Email','The text you want to appear on the web page');

function blocker2(name,text)

{

var domain ="yourdomainname.com";

document.write(" + text + ");

}

/* This script allows the adding of a subject, but also displayable text for a menu system. In your web page place the following:-

blockersubject2('first part of email address','The Subject in the email','The text to appear in the email');*/

function blockersubject2(name,subject,text)

{

var domain ="yourdomainname.com";

document.write(" + text + ");

}

//End of file.

Save the file as blocker.js in your document folders because this script can be reused over and over for as many different web pages as you like. You only need to change the variables in the script.

To get the scripts to work, there are a couple of things you need to do. I usually create a sub-directory for my javascript and actually call it that. Any javascript for the web page can be stored there. Save a copy of the file blocker.js to this directory and then edit all the variables to suit your site.

Now you need to allow the scripts to be called and the web page needs to know where they are. The easiest way to achieve this is to have the information in the section of your document. Before the closing tag, and assuming you have saved the file to a javascript sub-directory, insert the following line of code:-

(Insert less than sign)script type="text/javascript" src="javascript/common.js">(insert less than sign)/script>

You will just have to make sure that the path to the javascript sub-directory is correct for the document. This is simple if you use Dreamweaver as you can modify the template for your site and it will update all the pages. If you are using php includes, you will need to make sure that the path is correct from your header template through to the javascript directory. A little playing will usually get this sorted out for you.

One final thing that you should be aware of and that is that not everyone has javascript turned on. If a visitor hits your page and has javascript turned off then they won't be able to see your email addresses at all. To resolve this, enter the following code just below the area where the email address is supposed to appear.

(Insert less than sign)noscript>If you are seeing this, then Javascipt is not turned on in your browser and you won't be able to see our email addresses. They are hidden by Javascript. You can either turn your Javascript on or alternately email us at youraddress at domainname dot com(insert less than sign)/noscript>

Make sure you do not use the @ sign or put the dot in or even type the full email address properly. You will destroy all the good work you've done.

And there you have it. A simple piece of javascript that will prevent your email address being harvested by the nasty little bots that roam the web.

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Phishing It S Signs And Your Options

(category: Spam, Word count: 434)
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Phishing is the act of some individual sending an email to a user in an attempt to scam the user to release personal information. Is it easy to determine if it's a scam? Sometimes - but not always. I hope to give you enough examples and information to help you to safeguard yourself from these unsavory individuals.

In addition, sometimes the email is sent to malicious software so as to render your computer helpless. Thus, it is important that you do not click on the link they provide, because that is the trigger that will load the software to your system.

EXAMPLES OF PHISHING

You receive hundreds of emails in your mailbox, but one email catches your eye - it directs you to a website, requesting that you need to update your personal information. It requests such personal information as:

passwords

credit card numbers

social security number

bank account numbers

"It appears to be legitimate", you say to yourself. And you also notice that the emails are from companies that you have been doing business with for a while. Warning: The website could be bogus.

Here are several examples of phishing in action.

1. E-mails stating they are from E-bay and they feel that your account may have been compromised and would like you to verify your information with they so conveniently supply. DO NOT click on it.

2. E-mails from Paypal or your bank asking that you verify your information because they feel that your account has been compromised, or heaven forbid, suspended. Same scenario, different company. DO NOT click on the link.

3. E-mail that states that an unauthorized transaction has occurred on your account. Please click the link below and confirm your identity. DO NOT.

4. Here's a work at home scam - We have seen your resume on Monster and feel you would fit our position. If you are interested, please go to our website, look over the experience required and submit your resume if you have this background. Website is professional looking, offer looks good - but it could be a scam.

WHAT ARE THEY AFTER

In the above examples they are after information about you, be it passwords, credit cards, social security numbers, anything that can identify you - and that which they can use to profit from you.

The job email is used to verify that the email address is a true blue, active email address. What do they do with this info - they sell these accounts to spammers for good money. They need to verify your email address

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Two Main Groups Of Spam

(category: Spam, Word count: 510)
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There are two main types of spam, and they have different effects on Internet users. Cancellable Usenet spam is a single message sent to 20 or more Usenet newsgroups. (Through long experience, Usenet users have found that any message posted to so many newsgroups is often not relevant to most or all of them.) Usenet spam is aimed at lurkers, people who read newsgroups but rarely or never post and give their address away. Usenet spam robs users of the utility of the newsgroups by overwhelming them with a barrage of advertising or other irrelevant posts. Furthermore, Usenet spam subverts the ability of system administrators and owners to manage the topics they accept on their systems.

I think it's possible to stop spam, and that content-based filters are the way to do it. The Achilles heel of the spammers is their message. They can circumvent any other barrier you set up. They have so far, at least. But they have to deliver their message, whatever it is. If we can write software that recognizes their messages, there is no way they can get around that. Email spam targets individual users with direct mail messages. Email spam lists are often created by scanning Usenet postings, stealing Internet mailing lists, or searching the Web for addresses. Email spams typically cost users money out-of-pocket to receive. Many people - anyone with measured phone service - read or receive their mail while the meter is running, so to speak. Spam costs them additional money. On top of that, it costs money for ISPs and online services to transmit spam, and these costs are transmitted directly to subscribers.

The statistical approach is not usually the first one people try when they write spam filters. Most hackers' first instinct is to try to write software that recognizes individual properties of spam. You look at spams and you think, the gall of these guys to try sending me mail that begins Dear Friend or has a subject line that's all uppercase and ends in eight exclamation points. I can filter out that stuff with about one line of code.

But the real advantage of the Bayesian approach, of course, is that you know what you're measuring. Feature-recognizing filters like SpamAssassin assign a spam score to email. The Bayesian approach assigns an actual probability. The problem with a score is that no one knows what it means. The user doesn't know what it means, but worse still, neither does the developer of the filter. How many points should an email get for having the word sex in it? A probability can of course be mistaken, but there is little ambiguity about what it means, or how evidence should be combined to calculate it. Based on my corpus, sex indicates a .97 probability of the containing email being a spam, whereas sexy indicates .99 probability. And Bayes' Rule, equally unambiguous, says that an email containing both words would, in the (unlikely) absence of any other evidence, have a 99.97% chance of being a spam.

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Spam Where It Came From And How To Escape It

(category: Spam, Word count: 997)
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Who Cooked This!? (How did it all start?)

The modern meaning of the word "spam" has nothing to do with spiced ham. In the early 1990's, a skit by British comedy group Monty Python led to the word's common usage. "The SPAM Skit" follows a couple struggling to order dinner from a menu consisting entirely of Hormel's canned ham.

Repetition is key to the skit's hilarity.

The actors cram the word "SPAM" into the 2.5 minute skit more than 104 times! This flood prompted Usenet readers to call unwanted newsgroup postings "spam." The name stuck.

Spammers soon focused on e-mail, and the terminology moved with them. Today, the word has come out of technical obscurity. Now, "spam" is the common term for "Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail", or "UCE."

Why Does Bad Spam Happen to Good People?

Chances are, you've been spammed before. Somehow, your e-mail address has found it's way into the hands of a spammer, and your inbox is suffering the consequences. How does this happen? There are several possibilities.

Backstabbing Businesses.

Businesses often keep lists of their customers' e-mail addresses. This is a completely legitimate practice and, usually, nothing bad comes of it. Sometimes though, the temptation to make a quick buck is too great, and these lists are sold or rented to outside advertisers. The result? A lot of unsolicited e-mail, and a serious breach of trust.

Random Address Generation.

Computer programs called random address generators simply "guess" e-mail addresses. Over 100 million hotmail addresses exist - howhard could it be to guess some of them? Unfortunately for many unsuspecting netizens - not too hard. Many spammers also guess at

"standard" addresses, like "support@yourdomain.com",

"info@yourdomain.com", and "billing@yourdomain.com."

Web Spiders.

Today's most insidious list-gathering tools are web spiders. All of the major search engines spider the web, saving information about each page. Spammers use tools that also spider the web, but save any e-mail address they come across. Your personal web page lists your e-mail address? Prepare for an onslaught!

Chat Room Harvesting.

ISP's offer vastly popular chat rooms where users are known only by their screen names. Of course, spammers know that your screen name is the first part of your e-mail address. Why waste time guessing e-mail addresses when a few hours of lurking in a chat room can net a list of actively-used addresses?

The Poor Man's Bad Marketing Idea.

It didn't work for the phone companies, and it won't work for e-mail marketers. But, some spammers still keep their own friends-and-family-style e-mail lists. Compiled from the addresses of other known spammers, and people or businesses that the owner has come across in the past, these lists are still illegitimate. Why? Only you can give someone permission to send you e-mail. A friend-of-a-friend's permission won't cut it.

Stop The Flood to Your Inbox.

Already drowning in spam? Try using your e-mail client's filters - many provide a way to block specific e-mail addresses. Each time you're spammed, block the sender's address. Spammers skip from address to address, and you may be on many lists, but this method will at least slow the flow.

Also, use more than one e-mail address, and keep one "clean." Many netizens find that this technique turns the spam flood into a trickle. Use one address for only spam-safe activities like e-mailing your friends, or signing on with trustworthy businesses. Never use your clean address on the web! Get a free address to use on the web and in chat rooms.

If nothing else helps, consider changing screen names, or opening an entirely new e-mail account. When you do, you'll start with a clean, spam-free slate. This time, protect your e-mail address!

Stay Off Spammed Lists in the Future.

Want to surf the web without getting sucked into the spam-flood? Prevention is your best policy. Don't use an easy-to-guess e-mail address. Keep your address clean by not using it for spam-centric activities. Don't post it on any web pages, and don't use it in chat rooms or newsgroups.

Before giving your clean e-mail address to a business, check the company out. Are sections of its user agreement dedicated to anti-spam rules? Does a privacy policy explain exactly what will be done with your address? The most considerate companies also post an anti-spam policy written in plain English, so you can be absolutely sure of what you're getting into.

Think You're Not a Spammer? Be Sure.

Many a first-time marketer has inadvertently spammed his audience. The first several hundred complaints and some nasty phone messages usually stop him in his tracks. But by then, the spammer may be faced with cleanup bills from his ISP, and a bad reputation that it's not easy to overcome.

The best way to avoid this situation is to have a clear understanding of what spam is: If anyone who receives your mass e-mails did not specifically ask to hear from you, then you are spamming them.

Stick with your gut. Don't buy a million addresses for $10, no matter how much the seller swears by them! If something sounds fishy, just say no. You'll save yourself a lot in the end.

The Final Blow.

The online world is turning the tide on spam. In the end, people will stop sending spam because it stops working. Do your part: never buy from a spammer. When your business seeks out technology companies with which to work, only choose those with a staunch anti-spam stance.

Spam has a long history in both the food and e-mail sectors. This year, Hormel Foods opened a real-world museum dedicated to SPAM. While the museum does feature the Monty Python SPAM Skit, there's no word yet on an unsolicited commercial e-mail exhibit. But, if all upstanding netizens work together, Hormel's ham in a can will far outlive the Internet plague that is UCE.

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