Tired of e-mail promises to make you thinner, richer, taller, smarter, larger, safer, firmer, debt-free, and highly entertained? Nothing will stop all these unwanted messages, but here are 16 products that can help ease the bloat.
The Lifecycle of Spam
How They Get Your E-Mail Address
A spammer has several sneaky ways of getting your e-mail address. Here are the most prevalent:
- from your registration at unscrupulous sites (think sweepstakes)
- from your newsgroup postings
- from your chat sessions
- from spambots that crawl the Web for anything including an @ sign on a Web site
- from e-mail lists the spammer buys
- from mailing lists to which you subscribe
- by randomly generating name combinations for your domain
- by harvesting all the e-mail addresses on your companys server.
Sending The Spam
A scalable SMTP e-mail server can send up to a million messages per hour. To hide their identities, spammers often piggyback on top of an unsuspecting third partys mail servers and relay spam through them.
Catching Spam On The Server
Corporate spam-filtering hardware, software, or services can stop a good percentage of spam before it even gets to your PC. They check for known spamming techniques and patterns by examining the header, source, and contents of each message, to which they apply rules-based filtering and antispam algorithms. Antispam software can support collaborative altering, where recipients report on the spam they receive, and it can block messages coming from servers on blacklists. But the software may also block legitimate messages the recipient wants, known as false positives. Many products do help prevent directory harvesting and denial-of-service attacks, and they can detect traffic irregularities that spell trouble.
Catching Spam On The Client
Desktop software products can block spam after it gets to your local machine. Like the server products (and like antivirus software), they check mail against known patterns in the header, contents, and originating address. These packages also benefit from frequent updates to counter new spamming techniques.
Spam Thats Not Caught
If youre not running any antispam software and your e-mail address is on a Web site, mailing list, or chat room, your mailbox is vulnerable to spam hell. If you respond to the bad e-mail, even in an attempt to take yourself off the mailing list, youre only confirming that your e-mail address is real, and you can expect even more spam.