What’s the idea in spening too much time preparing a newsletter, message or report if it is automatically filtered into the junk folder ahead of the recipient even sees it? Spam threatens to choke the communication channels offering global freedom of expression. Internet Service Providers (ISPs), corporate server administrators and customers are increasingly using new anti-spam technology to try to stem the constant tide of junk email flooding the internet. The problem is: just how can we avoid the dolphins from being caught combined with the sharks?
The origin of spam SPAM is a pink canned luncheon meat immortalised in Monty Python’s spam-loving Vikings sketch. Inside an Internet context, lowercase spam refers to unsolicited commercial or bulk email (like get-rich-quick schemes, miracle cures, weight loss, Viag.ra, lotteries, loans, p.ornography and Nigerian sob stories) and allegedly originated in a MUD/MUSH community. More practical use is definitely the origin of the actual spam mail itself. Where does all the junk come from? Within the mid-90s, Usenet newsgroups (also called “discussion groups” or “bulletin boards”) were the main source of emails for spammers. Today, the most common origin is website pages, particularly if they’re listed in a online search engine or directory. Some people have tried foiling address-seeking spambots by inserting the word UNSPAM in capitals in the middle of all automatically blind copy on the sites. This stops auto spammers working but enables human beings to determine how to proceed.
Spammers also harvest addresses from headers of messages you send to friends who forward these to their friends (a good reason for making use of BCC — blind carbon copy rather than simple CC which displays all recipients even though some people filter out mail sent using BCC as numerous spammers also have it). Other sources include open e-mail discussion lists and webpages that invite one to “insert your address here to become on a ‘do not mail’ list. Spammers can simply guess addresses by generating lists of popular names and random words connected to common domains ([email protected], [email protected]). Once on a spam list, the best way to leave would be to change addresses. Should you reply or react to instructions to get rid of, your message will surely confirm your address is valid and you’ll get much more junk.
Based on your email client, you can consider tracing junk returning to its owner by contacting the server placed in the entire message header information (the From address is normally fake – examine your Help files to find out how to “reveal full headers”). The best way to stop spam Despite legislation against unsolicited commercial email, the quantity of junk is increasing alarmingly. The simplistic oft-cited fix — just hit delete — is just a bandaid solution and fails to discourage the junk merchants. Self-regulation and xrckza codes are hard to enforce. ISPs face problems should they disconnect service to spammers under some countries’ telecommunications laws. Technical solutions have centred on filtering technology. Types of filters Many corporations and ISPs filter incoming mail on or after delivery.
Server-side filtering software typically examines the headers, subject line and/or valuables in the content. Some filters — as well as their users — are smarter than others. SpamAssassin is surely an open-source, collaborative, community anti-spam effort based on filtering rules to analyse email content. The application gives each message a score based on how many rules it breaks. Any programmer can suggest rules for first time releases of the software which spots, not blocks, spam. ISPs and server administrators then decide if you should send suspect mail to junk folders, automatically delete mail tagged as spam, or bounce it returning to sender. Unfortunately for email publishers, a few of the filter rules are far too broad or the threshold is defined too low. Many innocent messages are lumped along with the guilty.