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“Studies show that unsolicited or “junk” e-mail, known as spam, accounts for about half of all e-mail messages received. Although once considered merely a nuisance, the prevalence of spam has increased to the point where many users express a general distrust in the effectiveness of e-mail transmissions and a growing concern about the spread of computer viruses through unsolicited messages.”
In 2003, President Bush signed the “Can Spam” Act, which established the first national standards for unsolicited commercial bulk e-mail in December 2003. The law, which passed the Senate by a vote of 97 to 0, prohibits senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail from using false sender addresses to disguise their identities (spoofing) and from using dictionaries to create such mail. It also prohibits the use of misleading subject lines and requires emails to include an opt-out mechanism. The legislation also prohibits senders from collecting addresses from websites. Violations constitute a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
One major point that needs to be discussed about this: spam is now coming from other countries in ever-greater numbers. These emails are harder to fight, because they come from outside our country’s laws and regulations. Because the Internet opens borders and thinks globally, these laws are fine and good, but do not stop the problem.
So what do you do about this? Her are the top 5 Rules to do to protect from spam.
Number 1: Do what you can to avoid having your email address out on the net.
There are products called “spam spiders” that search the Internet for email addresses to send email to. If you are interested, do a search on “spam spider” and you will be amazed at what you get back. Interestingly, there is a site, WebPoison.org, which is an open source project geared to fight Internet “spambots” and “spam spiders”, by giving them bogus HTML web pages, which contain bogus email addresses
A couple suggestions for you: a) use form emails, which can hide addresses or also b) use addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of your full address to help battle the problem. c) There are also programs that encode your email, like jsGuard, which encodes your email address on web pages so that while spam spiders find it difficult or impossible to read your email address.
Number 2: Get spam blocking software. There are many programs out there for this. (go to www.cloudmark.com or www.mailwasher.net for example). You may also buy a professional version. Whatever you do, get the software. It will save you time. The software is not foolproof, but they really do help. You usually have to do some manual set up to block certain types of email.
Number 3: Use the multiple email address approach.
There are a lot of free email addresses to be had. If you must subscribe to newsletters, then have a “back-up” email address. It would be like giving your sell phone number to your best friends and the business number to everyone else.
Number 4: Attachments from people you don’t know are BAD, BAD, BAD.
A common problem with spam is that they have attachments and attachments can have viruses. Corporations often have filters that don’t let such things pass to you. Personal email is far more “open country” for spammers. General rule of thumb: if you do not know who is sending you something, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT. Secondly, look for services that offer filtering. Firewall vendors offer this type of service as well.
Number 5: Email services now have “bulk-mail” baskets. If what you use currently does not support this, think about moving to a new vender. The concept is simple. If you know someone, they can send you emails. If you don’t know them, put them in the bulk email pile and then “choose” to allow them into your circle. Spam Blocking software has this concept as well, but having extra layers seems critical these days, so it is worth looking into.