What’s the point in spending hours preparing a newsletter, message or report if it’s automatically filtered into the junk folder ahead of the recipient even sees it? Spam threatens to choke the communication channels promising global freedom of expression. Internet Service Providers (ISPs), corporate server administrators and users are increasingly using new anti-spam technology to try to stem the continual tide of junk email flooding the internet. The problem is: just how can we stop the dolphins from being caught together with the sharks?
The foundation of spam SPAM is a pink canned luncheon meat immortalised in Monty Python’s spam-loving Vikings sketch. Inside an Internet context, lowercase spam identifies unsolicited commercial or bulk email (including get-rich-quick schemes, miracle cures, weight loss, Viag.ra, lotteries, loans, p.ornography and Nigerian sob stories) and allegedly originated in a MUD/MUSH community. Of more practical use is the origin from the actual spam mail itself. Where does all of the junk result from? Within the mid-90s, Usenet newsgroups (also known as “discussion groups” or “bulletin boards”) were the number one source of emails for spammers. Today, the most frequent origin is webpages, especially if they’re listed in a online search engine or directory. Many people have tried foiling address-seeking spambots by inserting the word UNSPAM in capitals in the center of all automatically bc on the sites. This stops auto spammers working but enables humans to determine how to proceed.
Spammers also harvest addresses from headers of messages you send to friends who forward those to their friends (a good reason for utilizing BCC — blind carbon copy instead of simple CC which displays all recipients although some people filter out mail sent using BCC as many spammers also use it). Other sources include open e-mail discussion lists and web pages that invite you to “insert your address here to be on the ‘do not mail’ list. Spammers can just guess addresses by generating lists of popular names and random words connected to common domains ([email protected], [email protected]). Once on the spam list, the only way to get off is always to change addresses. In the event you reply or reply to instructions to get rid of, your message will just confirm your address applies and you’ll get much more junk.
According to your email client, you can attempt tracing junk to its owner by contacting the server placed in the full message header information (the From address is usually fake – check your Help files to find out how to “reveal full headers”). How to stop spam Despite legislation against unsolicited commercial email, the quantity of junk is increasing alarmingly. The simplistic oft-cited fix — just hit delete — is just a bandaid solution and fails to discourage the junk merchants. Self-regulation and xrckza codes are hard to enforce. ISPs face problems if they disconnect company to spammers under some countries’ telecommunications laws. Technical solutions have centred on filtering technology. Kinds of filters Many corporations and ISPs filter incoming mail on or after delivery.
Server-side filtering software typically examines the headers, subject line and/or valuables in your message. Some filters — along with their users — are smarter than others. SpamAssassin is definitely an open-source, collaborative, community anti-spam effort based upon filtering rules to analyse email content. The software gives each message a score based on how many rules it breaks. Any programmer can suggest rules for new releases of the software which spots, not blocks, spam. ISPs and server administrators then decide whether or not to send suspect mail to junk folders, automatically delete mail tagged as spam, or bounce it back to sender. Unfortunately for email publishers, a number of the filter rules are too broad or perhaps the threshold is defined too low. Many innocent messages are lumped along with the guilty.