Thursday, May 24, 2018
Business

Spam filters work, but not well enough

I am inundated with spam and receive as many as 50 to 75 junk emails per day. I have used spam filtering software, tried a new Web browser and complained to my email service provider without much effect. What can I do?

There are some things you can do to reduce the amount of spam you receive, but there is no way to eliminate it entirely.

The best thing you can do is find an email service that does a better job of filtering out spam before it gets to your inbox. I suggest Google's Gmail.

You should also avoid clicking on anything in a spam email, including the unsubscribe link. If you try to unsubscribe, you're just confirming that your email address works and can continue to be a spammer target. The right thing to do is either delete the email or send it to your provider's spam filter for future use in deciding what to block as spam.

While spam remains an intractable problem, it's only fair to note that spam filtering does reduce how much reaches your inbox. Without filtering, more than 70 percent of your email would be spam. But the filters are no match for the resourcefulness of spammers. Consider what filters try to catch and how spammers have learned to avoid being caught:

Spam filters, and their associated "blacklists," search for Internet Protocol addresses and domain names (the part of the email address following the symbol) that have previously sent spam. Spammers change those things daily to avoid detection.

Spam filtering programs look at the use of key words or symbols (Free, Money Back Offer, $$$, Click Here) in the sender's name, the subject line or the body of the email. Spammers now avoid using those words or symbols or use them sparingly.

Spam filters also look for attention-getting tactics, such as the use of all capital letters in the subject line or body of the email. As a result, spammers instead get your attention with emails that have unusual combinations of capital and lowercase letters.

Spam filters keep track of how many similar emails they receive, and at some point classify them as spam. Spammers try to stay under the number of duplicate emails they think will trigger that response.

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