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Arm Yourself! To Win The War Against Spam!

Written By: Michael DeVries

Unfortunately, fighting SPAM has become an ever increasing challenge in every day online life! :(

Even with the passage of the CAN-SPAM legislation which took effect in the United States in January of 2004 (see http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.html ), ,this does not seem to have diminished the volume of *spam* at all (as you may also see in the article “CAN-SPAM legislation proving useless against spam” at: http://www.newstarget.com/001412.html ) and appears to have simply “pushed the spammers offshore” :(

I, personally, used to receive over 200 spam messages just overnight while I slept in just one of my email boxes! :(

However, by helping you Arm Yourself with the proper tools and techniques, in this article, we hope to help you Win the War against SPAM!

Although, there are many differing opinions regarding the definition of what is and what is not SPAM, we do not wish to enter into that debate in this article. Rather, we will define SPAM simply herein for the purpose of this article to mean “any unwanted email message”.

So, if you didn’t ask to receive “an unwanted email message”, of whatever kind, then …
How did these “spammers” get your email address in the first place to sent it to you?

Well, there are many, many ways in which spammers can get “a hold” of your email address :(

Every time you post a message in an open forum wherein your email address is “visible”, there are those spammers that go and “farm” these email addresses from these public forums and send spam to them.

Every time you register your email address at a site that does not “promise” not to share it with or sell it to someone else, that site may be selling your email address to a spammer.

If you have your email address explicitely stated in any of your web pages, even just in the HTML and perhaps not “visible” on the page as such, e.g. in a field, there appear to be spammers who go and “farm” email addresses straight out of your web pages’ HTML and send spam to them too.

Once one of them has got it they seem to tend to share, sell, etc. your email address with even more spammers and on and on it goes.

So, does that mean you should stop posting messages in public forums, registering at web sites and/or making your email address available through your web sites?

NO! … Absolutely Not!

Why should we relinquish the battlefield to the *spammers*?
When by Arming Ourselves with the right tools and techniques, we can Win the War against SPAM!

So, how do we Arm Ourselves against SPAM?

As the saying goes ….
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, right?

So, let’s start Arming Ourselves by discussing the ways in which we may prevent spammers from getting a hold of your email message in the first place.

You may wish to limit your posting of messages in open forums wherein your email address is “visible”. You can disguise (or “munge”) your e-mail address when you post it to newsgroups, chat rooms, bulletin boards, or other public forums For example, you can give your e-mail address as “wh0Am1@example.c0m” by using the number zero instead of the letter “o” and “1″ instead of “I”. This way, the reader can interpret your address, but the automated programs that spammers use cannot. And you may wish to only register your email address with web sites, etc. whom “promise” not to share it with or sell it to anyone else.

However, again, I “bristle” at the thought of letting the spammers win and in any way curtailing my online activities and/or force me to relinquish any benefit of our wonderful online / virtual world due to their unscrupulous behaviour! ;[

Preventing spammers from “farming” your email address(es) out of the HTML of your web pages is a much easier weapon to weild to prevent unscrupulous spammers from getting a hold of your email address(es) in the first place.

There exist some very nice and easy to use tools that will help you encrypt your email address such that you may include it (encrypted) in the HTML for your web pages, your visitors may still click on your email links to mail to you and spammer won’t find it to “farm” for their spam mailing lists! One such email address encrypter that we use regularly and recommend is the HTML E-mail Link Encrypter, which is one of the many webmaster tools and utilities you may get as part of your copy of the Fast Selling Software (see below).

Despite our best efforts at prevention, it is still highly likely that some spammer somewhere will eventually get a hold of your email address and start spamming you, and as we mentioned before, once one spammer has got you on their spam list :( ….

Thus, despite all of our preventative measures, it is unfortunately most likely an inevitability that you will receive some spam sometime.

Therefore, we also need to arm ourselves with the weapons to combat spam whenever it “shows its ugly face”, right?

Even though the spammers may have gotten a hold of your email address, there are weapons we may employ such that you don’t even ever have to see most of it! :)

Some of these “weapons against spam” employ an intermediate email box wherein any email message sent to your email address from an unknown sender receives an automatic “challenge/response” message requiring them to go to a site, where they must verify themselves as a legitimate email sender, rather than some kind of “spam-bot”, e.g. by typing in a “verification password”. Then you receive only those messages from verified senders from this intermediate email box. IOHO, one of the best of these type of “challenge/response” intermediate email box systems, which we use, have been pleased with and therefore recommend, is Spam Arrest, for which you may find out more information and try it for yourself for Fr^ee via the information and link in the resource box below.

These type of “challenge/response” intermediate email box systems are great for eliminating spam from “spam-bots” and/or when the sender and/or reply-to email addresses are not “real people”. However, there are still some spammers that will “pass the challenge” and then you will have to manually go up and “block” those senders from your seeing any further messages from them.

Similarly, if you own your own domain / web site(s), some web host providers offer spam blocking/ filtering that you may use for your domain. Some of these types of spam blockers / filters also allow you to enter regular expressions to determine all of the senders addresses and/or messages containing a particular “string”, matching the regular expression “pattern” entered, to block. These types of spam blocking/ filtering are great to combat spammers who use multiple sender and/or reply to email addresses that change frequently and/or randomly (and probably automatically generated), but from a common domain and/or with a definable pattern. However, these types of spam blockers/ filters often require that you log into your domain / web hosting account and add a filter for each spammer’s set of sender addresses and/or matching message text to be blocked.

Therefore, an even better weapon we have found, use and recommend, for “stemming the flow” of spam, is a PC / client based application called MailWasher, which is one of the many very helpful and beneficial tools in Vcoms SystemSuite for which you may find out more information in the resource box below.

MailWasher is great because it allows you to quickly and easily distinguish “friends from foes (spammers)”, “bounce” unwanted email messages and “blacklist” the spammers such that you don’t have to hear from them again!:) … and all from your PC! When you “bounce” a spam message the sender of it receives an automatic response indicating that your email address was “not found / invalid”. Therefore, rather than receiving verification of a valid email address, as from a challenge/response system or removal request, the spammer is more likely to believe your email address is invalid and remove you from their spam list! ;) When you “blacklist” a spammer in MailWasher, it automatically “tags” all of their messages to be automatically “bounced” and then deleted. Further, MailWasher allows you to combat spam on any number of your email addresses, again all from one place / application.

We have effectively employed all of these weapons against spam and have successfully reduced the previous torrent (of over 200 spam messages per night in one of my mailboxes) to a mere tickle and are definitely on the way to Winning the War against SPAM! :)

We hope this all helps you all Win the War against SPAM! :)

- Michael S. DeVries

About the Author: Michael S. DeVries is the Moderator of The Virtual Consulting Discussion List (http://www.TheVCF.com/vcdl.phtml) and Principal of The Virtual Consulting Firm (http://www.TheVCF.com). You too can Arm Yourself with these weapons and Win the War against SPAM!, at: http://www.thevcf.com/vccenter.phtml#SPAM

Source: www.isnare.com

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