Think SPAM has gone nuts, so do we. Below is the record of what just one of the OfficeOnWeb staff got in e-mail in one week. Let
us discuss it and then we will give some suggestions. The "this week" involved is March 21, 2004, when SPAM went up by several factors in
one week, prompting news reports by all major news feeds. [solutions]
Look at the average. This is based upon nearly two years of records. Now
look at last week. On Sunday the person got 202 messages, by the net Sunday, 580. A nearly three fold increase in one week alone. Further, the trend
is upwards, really upwards. What is going on? SPAM. As you can see in the outbound messages, that while the outbound traffic was up, the maximum outbound
messages in a day were 13. Much of those were trying to explain why spam is going up. Spam is going up because spammers have learned how to beat server
side filtering systems and people are not taking either server or client side actions to stop it. The person involved above has one more defense that
is not shown here: a junk filter. You can get one yourself by using Eudora or Mozilla
mail. What is not shown in the above records is that the combination of the three server side filters plus the junk killed all but 2% of the spam received.
(BTW: PC Magazine has written one or more articles on the problem every issue since December 2003. The problem
is that big.)
The problem is getting worse, not better. Spammers are sending so much mail
that server loads are reaching critical levels. Legitimate mail is being delayed Internet-wide.
What can you do?
In addition to the suggestions
and systems were have available for you to use, you can rid yourself of the spam some through keeping up to date in procedures. For example:
Turn off your "master pop" and set it to :blackhole: to reduce
server loads and spammer notification of valid e-mails. That means you will need to determine what e-mails you want to continue, generate a mail
box for the main one and forwards to go to that box for aliases that you want to maintain.
Review the e-mail filter options and make use of them. Including, a
good junk mail feature available in good e-mail programs today. You can get one yourself by using Eudora or
Mozilla mail (we prefer Mozilla as it updates most often, however, it is a bit techy in installation and
Contact us and request the server side spam filter and virus protection
system offered by OfficeOnWeb. This kills much of the problem before it reaches your computer system and endangers it. The spam filter is usually
free and the virus protection is only $19.95 per year. Remember to use the capacities given you. We are often amazed by people that get so frustrated
they stop reading e-mail when all they have to do is have a feature turned on and make use of it. Often the feature is included in the services provided.
Make sure you are not part of the problem by taking action yourself. Issues
you can do are:
Install one or more virus protection software on your system. One low
cost and effective system is GriSoft's AVG system. Unlike McAfee and Norton, it has daily updates, to attack
the daily attacks. This helps make sure (but does not ensure), you are not generating e-mail due to a virus program (virus and the new spam mail
Update that software daily. Virus makers change viruses daily and you
should change your protection daily as well.
Run a firewall. Several programs such as zone labs or the XP firewall
are available to protect you. The cost is nothing to minimal. Make sure you keep it updated.
Turn off your e-mail program's ability to view html mail. Eudora and
Mozilla offer such options and Outlook Express probably will too soon. We doubt you will miss the feature, and your system will operate much safer
as a result.
Never run stranger software, including zip files, and the latest virus
attack, the message from your provider that you have a virus. If you get one of those, call your provider to make sure they sent it, and that it
was not the virus people themselves.
Never open an html attachment. That is also stranger software and can
contain a virus.
Using the filter
system on the server control panel, refuse (discard) all mail from yahoo, hotmail, excite, iname, and other similar
free e-mail groups (e.g., in "all headers" with "contains"
fill the box with "yahoo" leave discard in place and click the activate button. We have found that less than 1 in 10,000 mailing from these
groups are from legitimate users. Most mail using these addresses are spam. What few legitimate users remain, have other e-mail available to them.
You will probably be shocked at the huge reduction in spam you receive.
Exercise thought. The Internet is getting complicated. If you are not
in business, you can initiate rules that only "white listed" mail will reach you. Those of us in business do not have that luxury. However,
we do have options. E-mail is still a very powerful tool that should be used. However, to remain useful, we need to exercise intelligence. If you
really want to make a change, make the removal of all html mail capacity your goal (see below). Turn off the html capacity in your e-mail program
and get it made illegal to be present in software.
Get html mail made illegal. That is right, make
e-mail programs that send or receive html mail illegal (not the html code, just the mail that uses it in a main message). Microsoft created
the html craze by installing it as a default and in the on position in Outlook and Outlook Express. Other followed suit, and we now have the mess
we have. The result has been virus proliferation through hidden executable code arriving to computer users, hidden user notification of e-mail address
validity, and many other problems. The html mail feature is not that valuable, and is abused heavily. Legislation that states e-mail main messages
cannot contain html code and that e-mail programs cannot transmit it in the main message, would return spam filters and other present technology
solutions to rid ourselves of this scourge practical again. This simple solution would hit at the heart of virus programs and spammers, and would
have little affect on the end users.
If we cannot make it illegal, let us make it so unpopular that no software
maker would keep it as a default, and at least would give us options to kill it for our own systems. However, in the interim, you can protect yourself
by requesting we set a policy for you that strips html code from incoming mail using
Can the above work, see the result below. By sending all yahoo and hotmail
to a spam box (only 3 in 1,000 mail from these addresses are ever legit), adding some filtering, and turning on some other features, you can see that
the e-mail level has declined some. (You can also see how the spam mail had started going up so heavily on or about March 10, 2004.)
This user has reduced their spam problem to workable levels by also using
the Eudora Junk feature and training it. Thereby reducing the amount of time spent on e-mail activities prior to their obtaining that capacity.