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Spam

Page history last edited by Suzanne Baschieri 15 years, 5 months ago

What is spam?

Spam, or junkmail, refers to bulk, unsolicited, identical messages sent to multiple recipients via email.  These messages contain advertisements or commercial content.  Common synonyms for span include UBE (unsolicited bulk email) or UCE (unsolicited commercial email).  Email addresses are collected from chatrooms, websites, newsgroups, and viruses which harvest users' address books, and are sold to other spammers. Email spam has increased exponentially since the 1990s, and some estimates indicate that as much as 85% of all emails or as many as 100 million per day are classified as spam. 

How can you identify spam?

Spam subject lines usually promise you a youthful appearance, prescription drugs without a doctor's approval, better mortgage rates, love, thicker hair, or something else that sounds too good to be true.  They frequently use attention-demanding punctuation including all caps or exclamation marks. 

What can you do about spam? 

  • Do not reply to a spam message. Do not click on the "Unsubscirbe" link.  This confirms with the spammer that you actually exist.  Do not purchase anything.  If you can tell that a message is spam from its sender or subject line, delete it and do not open it.
  • Don’t click any links in a spam email. When you click a URL in a spam message, this tells the spammer that you received the message he or she sent.
  • Disguise your email address. Don't put your email address in plain text on your Web site. You may choose to disguise your email address by stripping out periods and "@" symbols. For example, "YOURNAME AT YAHOO DOT COM." You can also make the "@" an image, which will prevent crawlers from identifying it.
  • Don’t forward an email from someone you don’t know to a list of people. You remember those "forward this email to 20 of your friends" messages? They are an excellent way for spammers to acquire email addresses, even if the sender of the original email did not have this intent. This includes any type of sign and forward emails, especially petitions.
  • Don’t use your home or business email address. When you register on a website or in a group, sign up for services, ask to receive more information, or register for newsletters or domains, create a separate, free email address from a site like Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail for that you will use especially for this purpose.  Use this address as well, when you are posting to the web, lin a listserv, newsgroup or contact page for a website as well as on any resume that is posted on the web. 
  • Before you join a list, make sure the list owner or web master will not sell your address. Read the site's privacy statement and check to see if you can opt out of receiving unsolicited email from the site.
  • Preview your messages before you open them. Many email services let you use a preview mode to peek at the contents of a message before you actually open it.
  • Use a complicated email username. Spammers' software will look for the easy and obvious addresses first, such as those with identifiable names "john1977@hotmail.com," as opposed to “sjk839@msn.com."
  • Use a spam filter. Most email services have a spam filtering feature and there are many free filters that you may download.  Filters will automatically move many incoming spam messages to your "trash" bin before they make their way into your "inbox". 
  • If your organization has an IT department, forward any spam that gets through to it. Inevitably, some spam will still make it through the filters and appear in your inbox.  If you have an IT department, they may be able to better tweak the filters.
  • Make sure your privacy settings are set so you don't receive marketing from other sites in your AOL and Yahoo profiles. Many listservs use Yahoo lists as the list provider; you must unselect these pre-selected choices in your personal privacy settings.
  • Never use your email address as your screen name in chat rooms. This will confirm and give spammers access to your email address.

 

This is just a general list of steps you may want to take to combat spam.  Inevitably, some spam will make its way through to your inbox.  Spammers will find new and creative ways to get around any measure you may take to block them.  You will never be completely protected or immune from spam.  However, you can certainly do your best to protect your computer and inbox from spam.

 

A Note on Filtering

When you are filtering spam from your inbox, different email providers use different terms.  Hotmail places messages designated as spam in a junk mail folder.  Gmail labels it as spam and places it in a spam box.  Yahoo! places all incoming spam messages in a bulk folder.  Although the terms may be different, they all refer to the same process of automatically placing suspected spam messages or those received fromdesignated domains and senders directly into a separate location, and keeping them out of your inbox. 

 

For more information on your fighting spam for your specific email provider, please select the appropriate link below:

Spam - Hotmail

Spam - Gmail 

Spam - Yahoo! 

 

If you don't find the answer to your question, want more or advanced information on a topic, need further clarification of a concept, would like to see another topic covered, or have any other comments or concerns, please contact:

Suzanne Baschieri

Consulting & Continuing Education Administrator

Alliance Library System

sbaschieri@alliancelibrarysystem.com

(309)694-9200 ext.2109

 

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