Personal SPAM blockers for the busy inbox

By Cody Crawford

To wrap up the series on spam, I’ll give you some tips to help stop your personal spam.  Since many laws regarding spam are not easily enforceable, it is up to the individual or company to prevent it until a solution can be found.

 

Tips to Help Stop Receiving Spam

1. Never post your email address to a public website.  If you must leave your email address for someone, post something like johndoe (at) gmail (dot) com.  This makes it nearly impossible for spambots to detect your address.

2. If you do a lot of online shopping, sometimes it is easiest to have an extra email account that you use just for that.  Your extra account can receive all the spam so your personal account stays clean.

3. If you already receive lots of spam, sometimes it is necessary to change email addresses.  While this will not work for people in large companies, this approach might suffice for a person with a small contact list.  You can email everyone on your contact list and let them know you are changing addresses.  If possible, you can delete the old email address after a while.

4. If you are receiving strange emails from a friend, let them know.  This may mean their email account has been hacked.

 

Tips to Retrieve your Email Account from a Hacker

1. Change your password.  Many people believe that a complicated password with many strange characters is difficult to crack, but this is not necessarily true.  Password cracking software has a much harder time cracking long passwords, as long as they are unpredictable.  It is better to create a long random password, rather than trying to make it really complicated.  One method is to think of four random words, and put them together for your password.

2. Run a scan with your antivirus software to make sure the hacker did not plant a virus on your computer.  If the scan finds anything, follow the steps to remove it.  A virus on your computer may mean you are sending out spam.

3. Tell your friends your email has been hacked and warn them not to click on strange links in emails from you.  Ask them to let you know if they receive weird emails from you.

4. If you can’t get rid of your hacker, report them to your email service provider.  For a Gmail account, you could Google “report abuse gmail” to find out how.

 

Spam Laws

Many online groups advocate total abolishment of spam.  Government legislation has been passed regarding spam.  Also, a complaint may be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you have found anyone in violation of the laws.

The most well-known anti-spam organization is Spamhaus.  Spamhaus is an international organization that has a large team of investigators fighting to stop spam.  They have a database of blocklists where they store the IP addresses of spammers.  Any email service provider can have access to this list to block the IP addresses in it.

Spam legislation is another way government officials in the United States have tried to fight spam.  The CAN-SPAM Act, passed in 2003, says everyone must follow general rules for sending commercial emails.  Mainly, the rules state that the spam cannot mislead the recipient and it must allow the recipient to opt out.  This means that if you unsubscribe from an email, the sender must honor your request and take you off their list.

Many believe that spam legislation makes spam worse.  The CAN-SPAM Act essentially legalizes spam, unless the spam is deceptive in nature or advertises something illegal.  This makes it difficult to crack down on spammers who are simply sending advertisements.  However, there are legal penalties for bulk emailing, failure to provide an opt-out method, and sending unauthorized sexually explicit emails.

If you would like to submit a complaint for someone in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, visit www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.  Although a complaint filed does not warrant immediate action, the FTC follows up on spammers who receive lots of complaints.

Sources:

http://www.scambusters.org/stopspam/index.html

http://www.templetons.com/brad/spam/endspam.html

http://www.anti-spam-software.com/spam/where.htm

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1061301

http://www.spamhaus.org/organization/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength

http://xkcd.com/936/

Cody Crawford holds a degree in Computer Engineering Technology from Middle Tennessee State University and is employed by a consumer electronics company in Nashville, TN.

 


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