written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 9/18/2011
The senders of spam have not stopped in distracting computer users at work or at home. Spammers continue to send bulk loads of unsolicited e-mail to distribute malware or just be annoying. Learn how to stop spam using this spam reduction guide.
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Malware authors enjoy harvesting email addresses to use for sending spam from the compromised computers of unsuspecting victims. Spammers work like advertisers because they conduct time-based campaigns. They will send fraudulent diplomas during February and March, pharmacy emails in June to August, and malware emails during Christmas and New Year. The rest of the year is anything they want people to receive, such as non-pharmacy product ads, 419 scams, phishing, dating/sexually explicit material, gambling and more. In short, spammers work full time and never take a vacation.
Every computer user with an email account will eventually receive spam. Some may not notice it if their email client is filtering unwanted emails of if their Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters it for them. Some free web-based email providers, such as Hotmail, Yahoo!, or Gmail, automatically remove the junk emails from your inbox and put them in a separate folder.
With or without spam filtering, spam continues to arrive in thousands, or maybe even millions of email addresses. Businesses are affected because they have to spend time and money to ensure spam messages will not reach their staff or customer’s machines. In this spam reduction guide, we hope you will find the anti-spam solution for your organization or family's computers.
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What is Spam All About?
Before using any spam prevention techniques or tools, it’s best to learn more about spam. Why do you think there are only a few spammers and malware authors being arrested and jailed? What are the sources of spam and how did those spammers get your e-mail address in the first place? You might be surprised to see the answers to these questions.
To block or not to block, that is the question. Sometimes spam mail is obvious and other times it's cleverly written to trick you into replying. It’s like downloading files from the Internet where we aren’t sure if it is a safe or unsafe download. People will use the real-time protection of antivirus programs to check files for safety to see whether it contains malicious code or if it’s safe to execute, open or share. Also, the antivirus program will try to identify the malicious file by checking from a database (remotely or with a local signature database) so they can alert the user why it is blocked and what it can do to the computer or private information in the machine. You should learn how to identify malicious and unwanted e-mails the next time you receive an unexpected email message.
Email, chat and other applications that have the ability to send and receive messages are often built with a spam filtering feature. Take advantage of using junk mail filters so you don’t have to spend 2 to 3 hours manually filtering the good and the bad emails. This will also keep you from accidentally deleting something you may have wanted to keep.
To remove or prevent malware, we use a malware scanner and remover. To prevent receiving spam emails, we need similar tools called anti-spam tools. Check out these software reviews if you decide to use dedicated tool in removing spam emails instead of depending on built-in junk mail filters in email programs. Often times, anti-spam software can be used in conjunction with the email client's build-in filters to maximize protection.