Email Anti-SPAM News, Help & Advice.

Fed up of receiving SPAM, viruses, scams and phishing schemes via email?? We were - so here are some useful news articles, hints and tips to keep informed and reduce the problem!

October 21, 2004

How to avoid phishing scams

Be wary if you receive an unexpected email saying your service / account is due to be suspended or shut down unless you confirm your account or billing information - do not reply or click any links in the e-mail body.

Before submitting any personal or financial information through a web site - look for the padlock on the browser status bar. If this is present it means your information is being sent over a SSL (secure socket layer) secure connection. You can usually get more information about the owner of the site by double-clicking on the padlock icon.

If you are at all unsure contact the company through an address or telephone number you know to be genuine!

If you have unknowingly supplied personal or financial information - contact your the company / bank or credit card company immediately using a telephone number you know is correct.

Also see: What is phishing?

October 18, 2004

My normal mail gets caught as spam

This can be very annoying - because of the way spam filters work a small percentage of normal mail will get incorrectly identified as spam. Here are some tips to help avoid this:

1. See How do spam filters work? - that will give you examples of certain words / phrases to avoid.

2. Make your subject lines meaningful - emails with no subject line or one that does not catch the eye are more likely to be deleted by people who are sorting through volumes of junk mail.

3. Use plain text emails - some spam filters negatively score HTML emails.

4. Avoid CAPS - upper case is considered s-h-o-u-t-i-n-g and is often used by spammers so may score negatively.

5. Do not use local SMTP mail server software - some people install SMTP servers on their own machines but usually the IP addresses used by normal dialup / broadband connections are not setup with the correct DNS entries to be a SMTP server. See: Use a better SMTP mail relay service for more details.

October 17, 2004

If you have a domain name...

When you register a domain name your details are placed into a WHOIS database - this is to identify the owner (registrant) and admin, billing and technical contacts for the domain - the downside is that is this 'public'.

If you are an individual (rather than a business) some registries offer the option to 'opt-out' of having your details visible - well worth considering!

Some ISP's / registries also set themselves as the admin, billing and technical contacts - saving you the spam! But be careful that you make sure they have your current email address as if they cannot contact you you run the risk of your domain name being deactivated if you do not renew it with them.

October 15, 2004

How do spam filters work?

Most anti-spam filters work by scoring email messages based on the email headers, subject and body text - some common triggers would include:

1. The subject line starts with “free” or contains FREE in caps.

2. The email contains the word “free” in certain phrases (free offer, free access etc.).

3. Certain words like “guaranteed” in capitals.

4. Words like “unsubscribe,” “leave,” and other list removal phrases.

5. Using font sizes that are +2 or larger - or equally very small fonts.

6. Background in an HTML email that isn’t white”.

7. Claims compliance with spam regulations or with US Senate Bill 1618 or House Bill 4176.

8. Urge you to call now or claims you can be removed from the list.

9. Phrases like 'what are you waiting for', 'while supplies last' etc.

10. Uses a Nigerian scam key phrase such as “million dollars”.

11. Money back guarantee.

It is not to say you cannot use these words - they are just likely to score worse than others and be 'more likely' that the email would be caught as spam.

You may ask - why tell people this - are you not just telling spammers how to avoid these. The answer is that they will already know - most spammers install anti-spam software and score their own messages to try and get them through spam filters!

On top of this many spam filters employ other techniques including blacklists and whitelists to help improve the accuracy of their filtering.