Unsolicited bulk email is a significant problem for email users and ISPs throughout the Web. You are bothered with email you do not want and did not request, and it takes your time to download it, determine it is Spam and then delete it.
Spammers can generate or collect your e-mail address in many ways. For some general information on Spam, click here. You must be aware, any time you use your e-mail address on the Internet you could be making it available to junk e-mail senders.
Here are some suggestions on how to fight Spam, and protect yourself:
1. Sign-up for GCI’s eMail Guard.This program filters Spam e-mail, and checks your e-mail for viruses. You determine what kind of Spam messages you want to see or not see. Spam messages are stored on our server for your review and not deleted. You can sign up for GCI’s eMail Guard on-line through GCI WebMail. Then, enter your user name and password, and then click on the eMail Guard tab for more information or to sign-up. No filtering service can completely stop all Spam, but GCI’s eMail Guard will significantly reduce the amount of Spam that gets to your e-mail inbox.
2. Do not open or reply to Spam e-mail.Never respond to Spam! Do not buy from unsolicited e-mail or respond to the disclaimer telling you that you can “unsubscribe” or “remove” to get off the list. DO NOT click on the link or request the address to be removed. A spammer views this as verification of a good address and continues to send e-mail messages and resells your e-mail address. Even opening the Spam mail can send a return receipt to the spammer in some instances — be aware that viewing e-mail in a preview pane of your e-mail software opens it.
3. Know the policy of newsletters or e-mailing list you sign up to receive. Reputable companies and newsletters provide the information to you on whether they sell or give away e-mail addresses. Reputable companies comply with a customer’s request to have their e-mail address removed from mail list and they will truly remove your name upon your request.
4. Beware of entering your e-mail address into a website form.Whenever purchasing or entering personal information online, make sure that the recipient is a reputable organization that will not use or resell your e-mail address. Review privacy policies for individual sites. Many sites have a checkbox for “Send Me More Info” that is automatically checked; you must uncheck the box to keep off their mailing list.
5. Beware of free services and contest on the Internet. Many free services, contest, and demonstration products are available on the Internet. The price for these “free items” is your e-mail address. Even sending a free electronic card to a family member may add your e-mail address and the recipients e-mail address to a Spam list.
6. Use a disposable e-mail address. Create a second e-mail address that you use on the Internet, reserving your primary e-mail address for valid e-mail interactions. Use the disposable address to enter on the Internet any time you are uncertain about passing out your e-mail address. Then when the address is getting to much Spam mail, delete it and get a new disposable e-mail address. Disadvantage to you the user with this is you need to remember a new e-mail address when ever you stop using the old one. You may lose some valid e-mail, if you provide your disposable e-mail address to some one you wanted to stay in contact with.
7. Use the filters in your email program. Many e-mail programs, such as Outlook Express, Outlook, or Netscape, have filters you can set directing e-mail messages. These filters will allow you to send selected e-mail to a trash folder. This idea has three major drawbacks backs; 1. You still must download the e-mail to your computer before the filters work. 2. The e-mail messages are on your computer. 3. You must maintain and update the list of addresses you want delivered to your trash folder.
8. Protect your email address.
a. Modify the email address on your website. If you have a website with a contact e-mail address, there are programs that harvest the e-mail address from the html code. To help defeat this, either use a generic address like firstname.lastname@example.org that can be easily changed, or modify your e-mail links as shown below. Disadvantage: You may lose some e-mail messages from users may not understand what you are trying to accomplish, and not realize they need to delete the “nospam” from the e-mail address.
Modify to: email@example.com or webmaster AT yoursite.com
b. If you participate in online chat, ensure you do not make your e-mail address visible to others. Any time your e-mail address is available for others to see, it can be obtained by some one you do not want to have it.
c. Clean up message headers before forwarding messages and ask friends to do the same. Almost everyone has received some form of chain letter, joke, or story, which has been forwarded to them by a friend. Viewing the email you see several pages of addresses listing the other people who saw it before them. When a spammer sees one of these messages, they can go through and harvest all of those addresses and then add them to their database. By cleaning out the old headers out of the message before forwarding can help slow the spread of addresses. This does not protect you directly, but it does help to protect your friends, and each person who takes the time to clean out those old headers helps to reduce the chance that spammers will get a hold of more address.
d. Use BCC when sending mail to multiple people, encourage the people you correspond with to do the same. Every time email you send out contains your email address and the addresses that you enter into the TO: and CC: fields. BCC: is another field in most email programs, where you can enter email address without them being visible to the recipients. BCC stands for Blind Courtesy Copy. You can use it to send emails to multiple people with sharing the address of those individuals who receive the message. This too, is something that helps protect your friends more than you, but is still a good practice.
You can also fight back by forwarding anything objectionable to us and then just delete the message. Forward the full e-mail, copying all header information into the text of your e-mail message, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can try to get the spammer’s ISP access disallowed. However, devious spammers can forge e-mail addresses and mail servers of origin, and do shift Internet accounts constantly, so senders of particularly objectionable spam are hard to fight.
No system can block 100 percent of all Spam from reaching your system. However, these steps will help reduce the amount of Spam you receive.