Saturday, 11 August 2007

Fight Spam Strategies and Software to take back your Inbox

Efficiency and accuracy in communication may be more important today than at any time in human history. The number of spam messages passed between individuals and businesses continues to increase significantly each day, to the point that some are literally overwhelmed by their sheer volume. Now, more than ever, it is vital that true non-spam email messages be absolutely accurate and arrive at the correct location, on time.

According to most studies, Americans are doing their part in adding to the vast number of electronic messages, but they are also creating a huge number of unwanted, unnecessary messages. One set of statistics shows that as many as 4 of every 10 spam items come from U.S. addresses. Europeans are far worse, however. Half of all emails originating there are spam, according to some statistics.

But what is spam, really? Of course, most people know about the canned food made from pork products (a Hawaiian delicacy). The definition widely used in electronic messaging and email defines spam as a "disruptive, commercial message that is unsolicited and usually sent indiscriminately." The sheer number of unsolicited messages is enough of a problem in that the sheer handling of this additional traffic slows the entire process of communication. In addition, those messages contain symbols, code etc. that actually cause system disruption or total failure. The resulting damage can be costly.

Some of the top stories in the world of email and electronic messaging recently have focused on the motivation behind spamming. In the end, it is mostly greed/money that motivates these "spammers" who spend their time distributing spam full-time through automated bots and zombie computer networks. Many of those who watch this industry carefully acknowledge that current Federal laws in the United States and at the individual State level fall short of controlling this type of "white collar" crime.

So, what can be done to remedy this situation? Actually, a number of steps can be taken to ensure that individual and business email is safe and efficient. Just making sure the inbox is free of unwanted messages is an obvious place to start. But how is that done?

Much of the spam sent to worldwide email addresses is meant to introduce products, in the hopes that the receiver will be enticed to buy. Financial schemes (the dreaded Nigerian Email scam) and illicit pharmaceutical adverts make up a significant portion of spam; as does pornography and offers for adult material.

Basic e-mail filtering (determined by the content of the e-mail) is a simple step each and every user should be taking at the start of each day and at the start of each email session. In essence, this filtering can be initiated by certain words or phrases that automatically send messages to the trash. Beyond this initial effective step, there are black hole lists (DNS-based) of known spammers, as well as email addresses that are not intended to be used except to capture spam (spamtraps) which offer more intermediate ways to combat the problem at the computer user level.

Some of the best methods employed by individuals and businesses have not been enough to stop the most determined of spammers, however. The most aggressive will use false names and addresses to establish multiple accounts across multiple ISP's. The use of "buffers" or third-party senders, helps to isolate the actual spammer from recrimination. Spammers have found and will continue to find open paths to unsuspecting inboxes, with the added risk of virus-infected messages a growing concern.

Spam and viruses are a particular risk to companies with extensive communications networks. While many of the simple steps noted above will help keep a system clean (with constant attention by administrators), more aggressive tactics are needed to ensure the continued success of larger, commercial internal communications networks.

New technology, such as highly intuitive anti-spam filtering software, may be the answer to many of the problems caused by a worldwide increase in spam. Current email users can download these anti-spam software updates in real-time and in doing so will help keep their network current. This type of technology is at the top of the list for users looking for email maintenance and for help in maintaining the efficiency and integrity of an entire communications system. Among the key focus areas for general email users are virus-free stability, lower maintenance and upgrade costs, email search capabilities for customized spam surveillance, archive services and anti-spam tools that put the daily maintenance in the hands of the local administrator.

Spam continues to grow, as senders find motivation to increase their efforts. At one time only a few hundred people received these unwanted messages. But over the years, the problem has exploded and now affects billions of email users and businesses each day. By one estimate, only about 15% of email is truly wanted and needed by the end receiver. Companies have come to realize this inefficiency cannot be supported over the long-term and are turning more and more to professional software protection options for help.

Don't let spam win, make sure your email messaging system is protected by a robust anti-spam software solution and take back your inbox today!

Author: Casey Markee
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