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Spyware and Spam

16-Jun-2008

Spam is by definition unsolicited bulk email. The term was taken from the Monty Pythom show relating to spam but I am not sure how that actually fits.If the mail is addressed directly to your email address then technically it is not really spam, however these days the term is used pretty much to encompas all umwanted mail. Governments over the world are attempting to work out a solution and are currrently passing very strict penalties for offenders, but as often is the case it will probably inconvenience legitimate operators more than the real offenders.

Email addresses are collected in many way by a process known as harvesting. The only sure way to avoid getting your email address harvested is to not use your computer on the net or not t have an email address. Of course this is not really very practical, so I will try to give a few ideas here to give you a better chance to keep the spammers out oof your life.

Most free email addresses are either bulk harvested as you send and recieve via web mail or just simply sold by the supplier of the free service. Yahoo, Hotmail and many other fall into this area. If you have one of these accounts, check to see if you can set it to only take email from known addresses in your address book. The spam will still be sent but will be directed to the trash.

When you surf the web your browser will obiediently tell any web server that asks all sorts of information about your computer and also the email address that is sent for anonymous FTP. This is most likely your actual email address supplied by your ISP unless you go into the preferences and set a bogus one. Some firewalls will allow you to restrict what information is handed over. Some of the things that can be found are:

Your current IP Address
Version of Windows you are Using or other operating system eg. Macintosh or Unix
The browser you are using and its version.
The web page you are asking for
The pages you cam from
Your user name on your computer
The time and date on your computer

Your IP address can positively identify you from the logs held by your ISP, but this information would only be available to law enforcement. The locality of all IP addresses is however available to anyone. It would not be certain exactly you were unless you use a small regional ISP. The larger ISP use a pool of IP addresses that could point anywhere.

What to DO if you Get Unwanted email.

I know some of you out there desperately want larger body parts and will try anything. If you respond, the flood will never abate. You should never try to unsubscribe as this just lets them know that the address they used is active. In some email programs, even downloading the mail lets them know it is a real address. You can however in most cases use web mail from your ISP to check your mail and delete the stuff you don’t want. This is also handy if you have family members who insist in trying to send you 10 megs of pictures each time you go online. You can just delete it there and then.

Another option is a program that allows you to check the mail at your server and delet what you don’t want to recieve. One program among many that allow this is MailWasher. This program can be used free but I would encourage you to pay if you use it and find it useful.


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