Dealing with SPAM

Submitted by ptelesco on Fri, 2010-07-16 09:14

A lot of clients have been noticing a recent increase in SPAM in their Email and have been requesting suggestions on how to handle it. I've always found that my SPAM is controlled enough by my ISP (internet service provider) and the built in tools to filter out Junk Mail in Outlook and Outlook Express. I get the daily 2-10 SPAM messages but most are filtered out so I never see them. Yet some of you are saying you are getting inundated with SPAM daily, so I've done some research into SPAM tools that are currently available.

The war on SPAM is a never ending battle. All legitimate ISP's do their best to filter SPAM at their facility, before mail ever gets delivered to you. Most is caught in their filters. But the SPAM designers are just as clever and as soon as the ISP figures a way to filter out SPAM, the SPAM designers figure out how to get around the filter. It's a constant back and forth which is why you may not have SPAM for a month or two and then suddenly you start to see an increase in SPAM again.

Keep in mind too that everyone is going to receive different kinds of SPAM and different amounts of SPAM. I don't use any 3rd party SPAM filters other than what is provided by our ISP (in our case it's Cox) and the built in Junk Email filters in Outlook. My wife has the same settings but receives more junk mail than I do. The type of and amount of SPAM an individual may receive can be affected by their surfing habits. Where you've been, what online forms you've filled out, who you've allowed to get your email address. This equates for some of the SPAM you get. Other SPAM is generated by marketing vendors from "Lists" they've obtained either through purchase or by creating the lists themselves. If you're email address is on one of these "Lists", then you'll get SPAM from the vendor who is using it.

What SPAM tools attempt to do is determine what is SPAM and what isn't. Some work right out of the box, while others need to be trained. In my case, I use Outlook and whenever I receive a SPAM mail I don't ever want to get again, I simply add that sender to my blocked list. The SPAM designers however will cleverly change the "FROM" address and hit me again with the same email. This is why you may get the same email from many different people. Eventually however, I train Outlook to block all the names and I don't get mail on that topic anymore. It's time consuming and requires the end user to be consistent.

The other type of SPAM filtering works on what's called your "white list". As opposed to "black-list". There are two ways to filter out incoming mail. You can block email from all the bad people on your "black-list", but this list is ever changing and you have less control over this filter. The other way is to Only Allow Email in from people on your "white-list". This configuration basically tells your email handler, (Outlook for example) to look at each email being delivered and if the person sending the email is not on your "white-list", then the email is filtered to Junk Mail.

The "white-list" method has a downside however, because you have to know the person emailing you and add them to your list so they can email you. So for example, if a friend has a new email address and tries to email you, that email will get filtered out until they call you and tell you to add them to your list, or until you notice it in your junk mail box.

There's yet another type of SPAM filter which is similar to the filters used by the ISP's. The ISP's still use "white-list" and/or "black-list" (they filter for known assailants), but their lists are a little more general because they wouldn't want to accidentally filter or delete what the customer might consider a "real" email and not SPAM.

The other type of filter, filters on key words, such as "Make Money", "Great Deal", "Casino", "Free", "New", "Work from home", "Buy Pharmacy", to name a few. By looking for a key word or phrase in the subject line, the filter is able to differentiate would be SPAM from real mail. Although uncommon, yet not impossible, you might receive an email with the same word or phrase in the subject line that is real, so again this type of filter is not without flaws and does require the end user to periodically check their junk mail box for what might be "real" mail. Also if some of you have noticed, the SPAM designers have figured out a way around this filter by throwing random words in the subject line. How many of you have seen an email with the subject line, "after glow it butindinee"? Or something similar to this. The designers are now throwing random verbs, nouns and made-up words, into the subject line to get around the filters.

So in my pursuit to find the ultimate SPAM product, I determined that you need a tool that is versatile, offers more than one way of filtering out SPAM and is adaptable to changes in SPAM design.

I found several Free Spam Tools at the following link. I wasn't able to download, install and test each one, so read the reviews and try one out. If it doesn't work, or you don't like it, go into Add/Remove Programs and remove it and then try another. If none of the Free tools suit your needs, you may want to consider a "paid for" product.

However if you do find a product that is helpful, send me a review of the product so I can share your successes with everyone else.

FREE TOOLS

The one tool I did download and try is called SPAMfigter. It's a great tool and does the job, but the "free" version has minor limitations and adds an advertising tagline to your outgoing email messages which I didn't care for. The pay for version is $30.00 and is renewed annually. You can download the Pro version and try it for a month, after which if you don't purchase it for $30.00, you will be automatically downgraded to the standard version.

To see the differences between Pro and Standard, click here
To download Pro or Standard, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the Pro or Standard links
To visit the SPAMfighter home page, click here

Some of the riskier "paid for" products can be located here. I say riskier because most don't allow you to try before you buy, so if you don't like the product, you're stuck with it. Read the reviews carefully and make the best decision you can based on what others have said about these products. Learn from their mistakes rather than having to make your own costly mistakes.

Paid For Products