A safe way to get rid of spam e-mails
Features – October 20, 2003
Lim Tri Santosa, Contributor, Bandung
Back when I first got online in 1995, I used to go around entering my e-mail address everywhere, such as in guest books, contests, and message boards.
And since I’m still using the same address now (of course, we get to keep it forever and ever), I get a ton of spam from all my email address sending in the early days. That spam is probably the biggest concern to businesses, if only for the cost implications, then it is no surprise that the security industry is still busy developing solutions.
About three years ago, I wrote two articles on how to fight spam by peeking at our POP e-mail account server and deleting the unwanted e-mails. Other columnists also suggested using spam blocking software, including e-mail bouncing software.
Yes, it is true if the numbers are still under 50 emails (though you are wasting your time), otherwise it is something like “flaming in the hell-fire” until you’ve got bewildered by a long list of emails containing subjects and senders which ones must be deleted.
I personally recommend not using e-mail bouncing software, since it uses the bandwidth of your Internet connection. Most spammers use a fake e-mail address, so it is useless to take revenge.
One disadvantage of spam blocking software is that it sometimes deletes the good e-mails without being able to un-delete it from your incoming e-mail server. Of course you can set to leave all messages on server for a specified number of days, but what the big deal is. They will only be clogging the quota of your incoming e-mail account.
Some of you disagree with me on this, but I’m not moved by majority approval on the subject. Testing spam blockers is clearly the most difficult problem I have ever encountered, even for my own e-mail address.
There are many measures of a spam-blocking product, but probably the most important one is the number of “false” positives it generates.
False positives are non-spam e-mails that the product mistakenly classifies as spam. They represent the most important failure of a product because the more of them there are, the less you can trust the spam blocking.
But testing products for their false positives is difficult. You don’t really know if you have false positives or how many there are unless you go through the blocked mail and count the ones that shouldn’t have been blocked.
Alas, again you are wasting your Internet connection time and the bandwidth.
I’ve tried many tests that simply took a lot of work, but this one’s over the top as a useful free aid. Eventually I come to a free and virtually effective anti-spam service 0Spam.com which, is designed for POP email accounts and also Yahoo and Hotmail accounts.
Unlike other anti-spam services that use filters that don’t filter out all the spam and even filter out non-spam, 0Spam uses a whitelisting technique that safely removes spam from one or more inboxes. 0Spam is not a software program, nothing to download or install, and there is no need to change the way your email accounts are currently setup.
Once you have joined 0Spam and configured your email accounts, nothing more is required on your part, no forwarding spam to us, no marking messages as spam, etc. Just sit back and read your clean, spam-free email.
I don’t suggest this technique for frequent-checking email users who most of the time are connected to the Internet and check their email account. If you receive 300 spam messages a day, the chances of you getting one spam e-mail each time you check your email per five minutes is 50 percent (1440 minutes a day for 300 spam messages is about one spam messages per 4.8 minutes).
But if you check your email twice a day under the same conditions, there is still a 50 percent chance of getting one spam message a day for a specified time. Confused?
0Spam.com logs into your email account every few minutes and removes spam. If a spam mail is received after 0Spam.com checks for spam and before you log in to your mail, you may receive one or more spam messages, depending on how often spam is sent to you. 0Spam service however is dedicated to constantly scanning your email account and removing spam.
0Spam is a challenge-response system; the system intercepts e-mail from unknown correspondents and makes them prove that they’re humans and not spammers.
Contrary to other anti-spam services, 0Spam.com assumes all emails to be spam unless determined otherwise by a series of user-defined and automatically generated whitelists. If a message passes any one of the whitelist rules, it is allowed to remain in the user’s e-mail account server.
Unauthorized messages require the sender to verify their e-mail address only once to show that their message was not spam. You don’t need to make a blocklist of spam e-mail addresses every time you’ve got spam.
Imagine this scenario: I’m on a mail list with, say, 1000 people on it. If a legitimate user sends out mail to the list, every member is going to be deluged with challenges to deliver email to your inbox. Wrong! It is easily solved by simply whitelisting certain words or phrases in a message, which 0spam.com supports.
If the mailing list has a name like “In this edition of the XYZ mailing list … ” in each of the e-mails, you can just whitelist with the phrase “XYZ mailing list”. This great feature is a solution to automatically accepting many newsletters or mailing list e-mails that you are a member of.
Do not use common words or phrases, otherwise all e-mails will be delivered to your inbox.
Will I be able to view my deleted messages, which have been marked as spam and retrieve them if necessary? Yes, when you log into your 0Spam.com account, you will see a link at the top “View Deleted Messages.” This page lists all the deleted messages, which you can undelete and send back to your e-mail address, or permanently delete them by selecting which messages you want to delete and pressing the “Delete Selected Messages” button.
Old messages more than 14 days old are automatically deleted. If you undelete a specified e-mail address, then it will be in the whitelist. The sender no needs to verify their e-mail anymore.
One thing about e-mail: it is something that you can spend time by reading them, not deleting them.
Within a few minutes of signing up for 0Spam.com, you are able to use your previously abandoned e-mail addresses once again. Your e-mail address will not change and there is no need to sign up for another e-mail account.
By the way, folks, are you still having “hardening agent” in your e-mail inbox? You’d be better watch out!