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This chapter is from the book

Kill More Spam—In an Afternoon

When you have a few hours to spare, here are a few more tactics to stop even more spam.

Install an Anti-Spam Program

Lots of anti-spam programs are available. All the big-name software security companies, including Symantec and McAfee, have their own. Choose one and install it; it will drastically reduce the flow of spam to your inbox.

I have had great success with Cloudmark Desktop (see Chapter 5, "Identity Thieves and Phishers: Protect Your Good Name and Bank Account," for more on Cloudmark Desktop). It's a plug-in for Outlook (see Figure 6.10), Outlook Express, and Mozilla Thunderbird that looks at each email as it comes in and electronically compares it to a database of spam email at Cloudmark. If a match is found, the email is marked as spam and is dumped into a spam folder or it can be automatically deleted; it's your choice.

Figure 6.10

Figure 6.10 Cloudmark Desktop is a spam filter for Outlook, Outlook Express and Mozilla Thunderbird. It is shown here near the top of Outlook 2007.

The flaw in most anti-spam programs is that no matter how clever the detection engine, it will almost always misidentify some legitimate email as spam or let some spam through.

Cloudmark Desktop catches about 80%–90% of spam because humans look at each message. But fear not, there's no team of spam spotters on the Cloudmark staff looking at all your email. The program relies on its users. When email comes in, you can mark it as spam using the program. This reports the message as spam to the company's servers. If enough of us report the spam, a spam signature is generated and everyone that gets that spam in future has it filtered automatically by the software.

The community approach results in no false positives, which is lingo for a misidentification of a legitimate email as spam.

So if I get an email from my aunt who talks about the cocks crowing on her farm and the pretty tits singing in the trees outside her window, the Cloudmark software is not going to treat her email as spam, while others might because of misread keywords in her message.

Cloudmark Desktop costs $39.95 per year, but it does have a free 30-day trial. It's available from www.cloudmark.com.

If you don't want to use Cloudmark Desktop, you might consider using Norton AntiSpam or McAfee SpamKiller, though I am no fan of either.

For the Mac, check out SpamSieve from http://c-command.com/spamsieve/.

A series of free anti-spam programs for Windows PCs are available for download at www.snapfiles.com/Freeware/comm/fwspam.html.

Fight Back!

If youare angry enough to fight back against spammers, here's how. Forward a message with your spam complaint to the ISP that hosts the spammer's email account. For example, if you received spam from bobby1234@llamasarenice.com, go to the website www.llamasarenice.com and look for a Contact Us page. Often ISPs have an email account called Abuse for such purposes. In this example, you'd send a copy of the spam to abuse@llamasarenice.com. You could also try postmaster@llamasarenice.com or hostmaster@llamasarenice.com. Try to verify what the correct address is first so you don't waste anyone's time.

The big problem with this solution is that ISPs are deluged by spam and to investigate every source of spam is not possible. Still, the option is available to you and it may make you feel better.

You can also use SpamCop.net (see Figure 6.11), a spam reporting service. It analyzes an email's content and header information (where it came from and how it got there). Then if it is deemed to be spam, it sends a warning to the ISP that provides the spammer with Internet service. ISPs tend to not like spammers on their network, so they often revoke service from them if they receive valid complaints. SpamCop.net has free and paid versions of its service.

Figure 6.11

Figure 6.11 SpamCop.net analyzes your spam and reports it to the ISP that connects the spammer to the Internet.

More spam fight strategies are available here: http://spam.abuse.net

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Last Update: November 17, 2020