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Dated: Aug. 13, 2004

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"Spamming" is an Internet term invented to describe the act of cross-posting the same message to as many newsgroups and/or mailing lists as possible, whether or not the message is germane to the stated topic of the newsgroups or mailing lists that are being targeted. Spam is unsolicited e-mail's bombarding your e-mail box, like junk mail that you receive at your home mailbox.

Spam of the email variety is easy to spot. It's a message (sometimes two or three!) from someone you've never heard of or would even imagine that you will get these sort of junk emails, advertising something that you'd never use or touting some opinion that you would rather do without, and, while it appears in your inbox, it isn't actually addressed to you.

This term "spam" was originally used in Usenet newsgroups to describe identical commercial or off-topic posts made to multiple newsgroups. It has since been expanded to include ordinary email messages, both UCE (unsolicited commercial email) and UBE (unsolicited bulk email).


Spam basically is the Internet version of "Junk Mail." It is an attempt to deliver a message, over the Internet, to someone who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Almost all spam is commercial advertising. Such information is gathered with automated searches to retrieve e-mail addresses for spamming.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer last week has sued defunct email marketer and its executives for sending more than 500 million unwanted email messages while claiming falsely that the mailings were permission-based. It's the second legal challenge in weeks for MonsterHut, of Niagara Falls, and its executives, CEO Todd Pelow and chief technical officer Gary Hartl. Earlier this month, a judge approved an ISP's action to kick the company off its network because of complaints about spamming.

There are no such controls on email spam. Sending email spam is virtually free for the spammer. There are software tools that can send millions of copies of a message out in a matter of minutes and there are lots of enterprising people who are anxious to sell spammers the millions of email addresses they'll need to do it. No self-respecting spammer uses their own ISP's outgoing mail services anymore; that might cost them their account. But they don't need to. There are always thousands of other machines on the Internet running poorly configured SMTP services that spammers can use.

If you've got some decent-sized clients, chances are that they've probably had a site up for a few years by now. The big companies that don't have web sites are pretty few and far between. But that site that seemed like a winner two years ago may seem pretty tired by now. That shovel-ware brochure site that seemed like a good idea back when everyone was rushing to establish a web presence probably has started to look like a liability. And as far as ROI is concerned forget it.

The solution for the spamming emails is simply to delete that email as soon as you receive it. The people who worry about spam say you can reduce the amount of spam you receive by never responding to spam email, either directly or by visiting the spammers’ web site. That just identifies you as a real person who read their message. So I don’t think that you should really reply them, just ignore it, and delete their messages.

Mail filtering in the Mail Transfer Agent or Mail User Agent is the only practical solution today for removing spam messages, and it is a lot less than perfect. There are three primary information sources used to filter incoming e-mail:

  • Header Information
  • Mailer Type (a special type of Header information)
  • IP Address (domain name)

Filtering on the Mail Transfer Agent is accomplished by adding rules to the configuration for the specific mail system running on the server. Mail User Agent filtering is accomplished through filters set in a user's mail reader.

You can configure your web free email boxes by changing their settings. Several free email service providers are using the mail filtering software through which you can protect yourself through these spam emails.

So remember, the best ways to fight spammers are:

  • To ignore their emails.
  • Check their header if possible.
  • Report them as per their header.
  • And finally delete their email.

Note: Going to a spammer’s site even in curiosity gives them enough reason to keep up their illegal acts.

As always, it was fun writing to you all. See you again next week.

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