Fighting Spam Step by Step~ forums

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Oct 22, 2003
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Huntington Beach, CA
Hopefully this article can help you with your spam WOES.......lord knows I have them terribly!!

It is almost impossible to do business today without email. So many companies use email for the main form of communications. The problem with email as you already know is junk mail, otherwise known as Spam. Spam is one of the biggest time wasters you can encounter while trying to conduct your daily business. What is even worse is some spam that is sent out can be offensive advertising that is not suitable for children (and most adults don't want it either). How many of us have gotten the Viagra email or an email that is foul enough to make your old gym teacher blush? We are as tired of spam as the next person so we have put together some logical steps to help cut down on the amount of spam that you receive every day. This is not just for our forum users so please share this information with as many people as you can.** These practical methods can be used by most internet users. With some of our suggestions you may need help from your web designer and/or your ISP.

1. When ordering products on-line or signing up for any type of sweepstakes always use an alternate email address which you can cancel at anytime. Some great sources of free email accounts can be found at , and many more or set up a junk email account on your domain so you can simply delete it later when the spam starts to fill the inbox. Just do a search for free email on your favorite search engine. The benefit of using this type of email account is you can just start a new account when you start seeing a lot of spam in your mailbox. Just go back, sign up for a different account and start again. This will free up your real email account to give to your friends, family and co-workers. The drawback on using these free services is most have some advertising banners or pop-ups when you log in but with a good popup blocker you can eliminate half the problems on this also.

2. Never use your domain or ISP email account when ordering a domain name, you should use either one of the free email accounts or use a cloaking domain service like this one here. A lot of spamming services find out your email address by automatically spidering or manually checking the Whois records which is where all public domain registration information is kept. Yes domain name registrations are public record and you must use valid information or you can lose your domain name. What is the benefit of using an alternate email address when registering a domain name? Well same as in section #1, when the mailbox starts getting a lot of Spam just open a new email account. The drawback of this is before you cancel your email account and get a new one you must update your email address at the registrar because you are required to always keep a valid email address in the Whois database. That is why we recommend the above listed Domain Cloaking because it removes your email address completely from the public eye and it can't be spammed the same. The drawback is cost, but the domain service we use is cheaper than most, and for the small cost it is worth cutting down on some of that junk mail.

3. Never Never Never add your email address to your web page. When you add an email link on your website like this >> [email protected] email harvesters can spider your website and add your email to their database for future spamming or even worse sell your email address to others for spamming. These email harvesters can grab 1000's of email addresses per hour YES!!! that's right 1000's so no matter what your website you will eventually get one of these little spiders on your website. There are some email address "scramblers" like here which encodes the email address in the HTML part of your page and will help somewhat keep the spiders from reading your email address. The more sophisticated email harvesters can still read those encoded email addresses so it is a better idea to not put your email address on your website at all. I know a lot of you are now asking how can we not put our email address on our website, how would anyone get in contact with us? Good question.... forms are the best method of allowing your customers to send you email but avoid the normal email spiders. There are a lot of form processors, FrontPage has one built in, Dreamweaver also has something I'm sure.. but the problem even when using this method is the email address is still in the HTML code that sends the email... so what is the alternative? Using a formmail script that allows you to hide the email address either inside the PHP, ASP or Perl script itself. See only the HTML portion of the script can be read through the browser so when you embed your email address inside the code the spiders can't get to it. A great PHP formmail product is at , we have used this script for several years. The standard script does not hide the email address but visit their forum for more information on how to add the send to email address inside the script itself. This formmail script is very easy to use and secure and the best thing is it is free. The benefits of using a form instead of a direct email is obvious but there are a few drawbacks that must be mentioned. Formmail scripts are fairly easy to use if you understand the basics of HTML, if not you might need to have someone set the forms up for you. It does take a little extra time to set up an email form but the benefits outweigh the alternative.

4. Setting up email account with your hosting service. It is best to use email accounts that are not common names like admin, sales, info and support. These are email accounts most spammers will just try for the heck of it and in most cases you will have one of these addresses set up on your business website. So think of a better, less common email account name such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] you get the idea... these are less common so the spammer is going to have to know your exact email address to get the mail through to you in most cases (See section # 5)

5. Catch-All email accounts. Most hosting companies offer what they call a catch-all or default email account which is where all emails go if they come in on your account and the user name does not match any other account. A catch-all address sounds like a great idea... you can't miss an email from a person that happens to type your name in wrong (example instead of them typing [email protected] , they type in [email protected]) if you have a catch all address you would get both of those emails, one in joe's account and one in the catch-all. Spammers will send out mail to your domain name and use all kinds of account names and they hope that they either get lucky on one of the account names or that you have a catch-all address set up so you are getting their junk mail no matter what. We suggest shutting off your catch-all address and only accept email being sent to valid accounts. This is not something that will be viable for all people but it should be able to be used by most and this will just bounce the Spam right back at the sender. In your catch-all account use a message like this >> NOTICE! Due to the excessive amount of Junk emails (Spam) we can no longer accept emails to unknown mailbox names. Please visit our website for valid contact information. We look forward to speaking with you. Sorry for the inconvenience. ~Thanks

6. Check with your hosting and ISP companies to see if they offer any type of server-side spam filtering. Most companies are offering this benefit to their customers. A lot of hosting companies use a spam filtering service called Spam Assassin which filters spam based on a scoring system and is updated daily with new spam filter rules. We use this program and have seen a decrease of 75-80% of the normal spam on the accounts that utilize this service. Most hosting companies do not apply this spam filter network wide as some people might not want to filter their accounts so most add it as the customers ask for it to be added.

7. Never click the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of spam emails you receive. Why??? Well to start with spam is unsolicited junk emails and in some cases illegal so do you think that these people will really remove you? I doubt it and in many cases it has been proven that your junk mail will increase once you click the unsubscribe links because you are confirming that the email address is good. If you subscribed to a valid mailing list and want to be removed go to the website where you signed up and unsubscribe there and keep a note of the day you requested it, if you continue to receive emails contact them and give them the date that you received the mail and ask again to be removed, if that does not work you may need to contact their ISP for help. Don't ever reply to a spam and ask to be removed either, this will create the same flood of new emails in your inbox.

8. User-end spam filters are the last line of defense when trying to get rid of all the junk you get in your inbox everyday. These filters work the same as # 6 above but you have more control over the rules and can filter out specific email addresses from ever sending you mail. has a great Free product and if you want to handle multiple accounts check out this is the paid professional version of the same product. There are a lot of programs out there to filter spam so jump on your favorite search engine and start looking..

In conclusion only you can prevent being overcome with spam so if you follow the above you can rid yourself of 95+ percent of wasted time reading and manually deleting junk mail. As an example we manage about 15 different mailboxes across several websites. In any one day we could see more than 400 pieces of junk emails come across our accounts. We spent more time deleting junk mail than answering customers questions. Over the past couple of months we have implemented almost everything listed above and now we are down to getting about 10-15 pieces of spam a day. As you can imagine this has increased productivity and our recommendations can help you too.

original article from all right therein


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