10 tips to avoid spam

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Spam is a fact of internet life. According to recent figures from the security software industry, more than 80% of email traffic is made up of spam. To fight the spam menace, McAfee published following suggestions to help prevent your email address from becoming a target to spammers.

  • Do not post your e-mail address in an unobfuscated form on the internet. If you need to post your e-mail address, format it so that it cannot be easily harvested such as name at- hotmail dot- com, Or if you need to include your e-mail address in your signature, include a small graphic image containing your e-mail address.
  • Check to see if your e-mail address is visible to spammers by typing it into a Web search engine such as www.google.com. If your e-mail address is posted to a...

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What are the authorities doing about spam?
As spam forms 80% of all emails, what are the authorities doing to reduce the problem. At 80% there appears to be a very large benefit to reducing that percentage. Things they could do are :-

1) Restrict all email accounts to sending no more than 10 emails a day. If anyone wanted to send more, they would have to provide proof of identity through the ordinary mail, once a year. People who send lots of spam could then be chased up.
2) Put the real senders email address in the header for each email. This would enable the authorities to target those ISP's who allow people to send lots of spam; they could then restrict the internet activities of these ISP's.
3) Target the businesses who use the services of spammers.

I suspect that the authorities are not really doing anything effective about the problem.

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Not just G-mail
I have used Hotmail to collect and read e-mails online rather than on my computer for many years and they too have excellent spam filtering, as well as virus checking built in.

The real key is not putting your own email address into general circulation and certainly never leave it on 'questionable' sites. You can sign up for dead-end e-mail addresses which last for 15 - 30 minutes before evaporating without trace - a bit extreme. My son has an address that he uses for this purpose at the site ihateclowns.com - but then he is a juggler!

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Avoid Auto Responders
Up until last summer I only got the odd item of spam. At the request of clients I set up an auto responder when I went on holiday letting everyone know I was out of the office. Obviously this also responded to the odd spam email (and let them know this was a valid email address). When I came back from holiday I was getting about 10 spam emails a day instead of one or two a week.
So avoid auto responders!

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Step1, No Step 2
1. Get GMail - has excellent spam filtering. I very rarely see spam though my spam filter says there are thousands in there.

Before all the Google haters pile in - yes I have read their ToS and Ts&Cs and yes, I can live with them even though they are inconsistent as between different Google services.

To our friend with the Chinese spamming problem - mark them as spammers and they should end up in your spam box and not your regular email.

Dennis Howlett

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Professional email addresses
I would also add that if you use a professional email address (ie. [email protected]), you should not use a catch-all set up for your emails.

Catch-all means that [email protected] will end up in your mailbox, which is leaving your email account wide open to abuse. Restrict the number of 'accounts' to the strict minimum, generally info@, contact@ and yourname@. If you still get too many spam emails, try [email protected]. Spammers will have a harder time getting this one right.

If you are in charge of setting up your email, I would also advise against 'bouncing' unwanted emails. Simply let them 'die' on your server and do not go back with error messages that spammers can use to try other email addresses.

If you are unsure ask your hosting or web designer if the email are catch all or not.

Leo
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Accountant Websmiths

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