Spam Blocker Magic – How to Choose and Tame Your Spam Blocker
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Even people using wonderful spam blocker programs find that their spam blocker does not block all of the spam from getting through. That’s because spam blockers are always trying to achieve a careful balance between blocking spam, and not blocking wanted email. Also, it’s because no spam blocker is “one size fits all”. Your spam blocking needs are not necessarily the same as my spam blocking needs, and neither of our spam blocking needs are the same as everyone else’s spam blocking needs.

When you couple that with all of the different types of spam (and spammers) there are, and that one person’s spam may be another person’s wanted advertisement, and you can see how a spam blocker may need some help.


Some of the types of spam out there include:

Sales spam:
Because spammers can send out millions of emails for the same cost of sending a few, they do not care whether the recipients are interested or not. From the spammer’s point of view, it is a cost-efficient method of generating profit. The point of spam is to sell you something, and because it is low cost, the number of hits spammers receive from mass mailings results in profit. And of course, as the number of spam blockers in use increases, so does the amount of spam a spammer has to send in order to get the same financial return.

Con artist spam:
Some spammers are not out to sell you anything but are after your personal information, which they then use for their own financial gain. An example of this is the situation where someone in another country asks you to transfer money out of their country, routing it through your bank account. The spammer then has your banking information and access to your funds.

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Malicious spam:
Another form of dangerous spam involves messages that are designed to infect your computer with a virus or worm. These messages are coded and contain a malicious program that, once you open the message, automatically downloads a virus with the message. Typically, the virus also uses your computer to send the virus to everyone in your address book, which again does the same thing once those people open the message. Because these messages come from a known source, people are more likely to open the messages, and the virus spreads very quickly. Fortunately, most spam blockers now will block email which contains an attachment file, although this is a reason to make sure that your address book is up-to-date, and to check your spam folder before deleting, in case a wanted attachment ends up there (see below for more about this).

Phishing spam:
This type of spam appears to be from a company with whom you do business, such as a large bank or eBay. The messages look very authentic, but ask you to reveal personal information such as your passwords, account numbers, and even credit card numbers. The message directs you to a website that looks real but is actually not affiliated with the known business. Once you reach the site, you are asked to provide information such as account, credit card, or social security numbers. Many people fall prey to these emails and links because the spammers do an excellent job of giving the appearance that the company originated the email. As such, this is the most dangerous type of spam and creates the most damage.

There are many other types of spam as well.

 

Once you have chosen the perfect spam blocker for your needs, there are ways that you can optimize your system to help your spam blocker to really block that spam.

Here are a few such ways:

Make Sure Your Address Book is Up-to-Date:
Be sure to keep your email address book up-to-date. By doing so, and setting your email filter to allow all emails from addresses listed in your address book to get through to your inbox, you will greatly reduce the chance that you will miss wanted email. This allows you to use stricter rules with your spam blocker. Place this as the first priority in your list of email filter conditions.

Mark Spam As Spam:
A spam filter can learn what is spam and what isn’t. To help train it according to your preferences, be sure to mark any unwanted item that arrives in your inbox as spam. Your filter will learn to recognize this type of message as spam the more that you mark it as such.

Turn Off Image Display in Your Email Program:
Did you know that many people are nervous about the images that get sent along with offensive and/or unpleasant email, such as pornography? Maybe even worse, when you view an image sent by a spammer, you may be doing more than becoming offended. The image can be sent in HTML code rather than as an actual image. This means that when you see it, your email client has read the code and downloaded the image from an Internet site, rather than displaying a file included with the email. Your email address is confirmed as an active one when this download occurs. In addition, during the second or two it takes your system to download the image, your computer is linked to the spammer’s web server, providing a vector for viruses and spyware. Even otherwise legitimate companies use this technique, known as a “web bug”, to determine whether or not you are reading their email. In essence they are spying on you right in your own inbox!

Block By Domain:
If you notice that you are getting a lot of spam from a particular domain (the part to the right of the “@” in an email address), and if you are sure that you will never ever want to receive email from anybody who might send email from that domain, set your spam blocker to block all email with that domain in the address. Some people even use this method to block email from entire countries, although you must be very careful doing that, as you could end up accidentally blocking mail you want from someone who does business in or is visiting that country.

Ignore Spam:
The best thing you can do with spam is ignore it (and delete it). If you open it, you may tip off the spammer that your email address is legitimate. And of course, as you know by now, responding to it could make things even worse.

These are just a few of these things you can do to help your spam blocker reduce the amount of spam you get in your inbox.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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