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Tech Tip
by Brad Appleby

Spam and E-mail - Ugh!
SPAM is unsolicited E-mail. Unfortunately, by replying to any “remove me from your list” links contained in the SPAM, you just end up telling the SPAMMERS that you do read their e-mail and know how to follow their instructions. The best way to slow down SPAM is to just delete unfamiliar e-mail right away.

How to fight SPAMMING:
1. Never read SPAM messages.
Don’t visit SPAMMERS’ sites.
Never open an attachment you don’t recognize.
Don’t buy anything from SPAMMERS.

How E-mail Marketing (SPAMMING) Software Works:
1. A “spider” searches web pages, chat rooms and newsgroups and extracts e-mail addresses from HTML and text files.
2. The “spider” looks for a pattern like *@*.*; then retrieves up to10,000 e-mail addresses per hour using a simple dial-up connection and sends unsolicited messages.

There are all kinds of programs out there to help prevent SPAM. I find it interesting that people will buy a program from a SPAM e-mail to prevent SPAM. Wrong answer! There are legitimate SPAM filters such as Symantec’s Norton Anti-Spam™ that will scan your e-mail and delete any messages with the title words that you decide are SPAM. The problem is that the SPAMMERS constantly make changes to the title words they use. If I block the title word “Pharmacy,” they just change the title word to “Ph@rmacy,” then “P-h-a-r-m-a-c-y,” and so on. Each new title word has to be added and blocked. It is a lot of on-going maintenance. Here is a great tip: if you see words that are spelled in crazy ways or words that are not real words, chances are that the e-mail message is SPAM. Delete it.

You can also block an address from a SPAMMER so you won’t get SPAM from that address again. However, SPAMMERS change addresses all the time. I have received SPAM e-mail messages from me to myself. SPAMMERS use specialized programs that continually scan the internet for e-mail addresses to use. I receive about 600 SPAM e-mail messages a day because my e-mail address is all over the internet. I have been using Symantec’s Norton Anti-Spam™ to help filter the SPAM. This program gives the user a chance to review possible SPAM messages in a separate folder, away from the regular “in” box. By using this feature, I only have to delete about 20 SPAM messages a day. Norton continually updates your SPAM list via the internet.

Remember. Never open an attachment that you don’t recognize. And don’t forward e-mails to 25 of your friends. That’s how names get collected and used by SPAMMERS. I am always testing programs to make “life with computers” easier and safer. As soon as I find another great one I will let you know. Until then, be careful and ALWAYS back-up your important files.

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