Don't give spam a chance: Avoiding 'e-trash'
Dec 9, 2007, 16:31 GMT
Chemnitz, Germany - For many computer users, it's part of the daily grind - the deletion of digital trash from the e-mail box. Unwanted advertising e-mail messages known as spam, often make it more difficult to see those electronic letters that are worthy of attention. Minimising the flood of spam is possible, though, through the use of intelligent filters and a few basic conduct rules.
Discreet handling of one's own personal contact data is one good way to make life more difficult for spammers.
'You should watch out where and to whom you make your address known,' Frank Richter advises. He is an anti-spam expert at the Computing Centre at the Technical University of Chemnitz.
One of the primary ways that spammers collect addresses is through automated culling of e-mail addresses published in public places. Writing out addresses in forum posts and guest books is a certain method of a guaranteed wave of advertising mail, he says.
Operators of private homepages looking to provide a contact address for visitors are warned against writing out their e-mail address in plain text.
'A better idea is to forego a link and instead provide a contact form,' computer expert Frank Richter recommends.
Marco Nassenstein, an associate at a consumer protection initiative focused on fighting spam, recommends judicious use of e- mail greeting cards. He also advises against providing e-mail addresses where possible for sweepstakes, surveys and online shopping.
'There's no guarantee that the address won't be sold or otherwise fall into a third party's hands through lax security,' he says.
In cases where providing contact data to strangers cannot be avoided, then a 'throw-away address' is just the thing. If an unacceptable amount of spam starts landing in the inbox, then simply move to a new address.
Filters that automatically separate attention-worthy mails from chaff are now standard features even for free-mail addresses. Yet they are in some cases not activated by default, says Stephan Goldmann from the Munich-based Chip magazine.
Another spam defence option comes through filters integrated into e-mail clients. Thunderbird is just one example of a cost-free program for those who don't want to devote extra money to the problem.
According to Frank Richter, it has an effective filter. 'The automated spam recognition functions quite well even at the start.' Performance becomes even better once the filter has been trained to understand what is worth reading and what should go straight into the waste basket.
If the spam flood becomes too great, it may be necessary to install an added protective wall. This involves supplementary filtering software that catches spam during the transmission from mailbox to e-mail program. The selection of free programs on the internet is large. The best of them can be updated to include additional filters and offer protection from new and particularly outlandish ideas that spammers may come up with.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur