February 28, 2007

8 tricks to avoid spam emails

February 28, 2007

As Amit reported in his blog, spammers use misspellings to fool spam Filters:

"The word Viagra has been spelled as \/laGr@ - the first alphabet is not "V" but a combination of a back slash and a forward slash. The second alphabet is "L" instead of "i". No wonder, Gmail failed to detect this message as spam and delivered it to the Inbox.

And there's more - the image attachment, that has the actual advertising message, is scribbled with short horizontal lines so as to trick the OCR software that can extract text from images."

No matter how well the spam filters are, us email users cannot be fully protected from spam today (There are 600,426,974,379,824,381,952 ways to spell viagra), but we can still take some precautions to evade these attacks, while registering for new accounts and after. Some crucial tips to avoid spam may be listed as follows:

1. While you're creating an account, do not choose a short username. You will receive spam mail due to dictionary attacks. For example, think of the username "angel". Each address starting with the word "angel" will receive a spam mail:

2. Since usernames that are to be attacked are generated from the first few letters, it's better to start the username with letter or number series without a meaning:
ytgkj.username@ or 72149.username@

3. It's always better to use special characters in the username if they are allowed.
user-name@, user_name@ or user.name@

4. If you are sure that it's a spam mail, do NOT click the links like "Click to unsubscribe, remove your address from the list" and do NOT reply them with emails having subjects like "Remove", "Unsubscribe" etc. These will verify your email address and will only make your address receive more of them.

5. Some sites may want email addresses for registration. These are potential spam dangers. If you have to use an email address for registration, always use a temporary address. Sites like "Mailinator.com" create temporary mail addresses for a short period of time and you are done with these addresses once you are finished with registration.
If you also have to receive email after you have registered, in other words, when you are filling out forms on the internet, do not use the mail account that you give your friends and relations. Instead, get yourself a free webmail (hotmail, yahoo, etc.) and use that always.

6. When you are sending emails to multiple recipients, always use BCC. Why? If you type the addresses in the CC or To line, all the recipient addresses appear in the mail content when those emails are forwarded. If the forwarded mails reach the spam senders in some way, all these addresses are added to their spam lists.

7. If your webmail provides a junk/bulk mail filter service, make sure that this service is activated. However, all the mail coming into this folder might not be spam. Because the mass emails sent by some sites you register or mail groups that you are a member of are sent by script-based ways, they may be considered as spam and they make their way into these folders. It's good to check this folder once in a while.

8. Finally, make sure that you view the Message Headers fully. How do you do this? For example in Gmail, click the icon near Reply > Show original" besides the address received from and in Hotmail, click "Options > Message display settings > Message header > Full". This will allow you to see useful information about the sender of the spam mail you received.
If you are sure that it's a spam mail, copy the header information as it is and report it to spamcop.com. From the same web address, you can send the mail service provider the information about the spam mail.

Please do not forget that these are only precautions that you can take against spam individually and will not stop spam completely, but at least it will help in keeping spam away from you.

Posted by me @ Email-X.net

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