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Keeping Spam from your Email Inbox

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 4 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Keeping Spam From Your Email Inbox

You use email, so that means you’re all too familiar with spam – all those advertising junks mails that never stop coming. If you use a regular Internet service provider, you don’t even see the majority of them that are sent to you – the ISP’s spam filters make sure of that. With Internet-based web mail you get more, but even then it’s only a fraction of what’s sent out.

Estimates are that over 90% of email sent is spam. Think about that for a moment. You see only a minute portion of it and it’s too much. Most of it never reaches its target, but it still clogs up the bandwidth available in a massive way.

The strange thing is, spam works. It costs next to nothing for the big spammers to send out millions of spam emails every day. They’re paid by the companies doing the selling, often quite handsomely, for activities that many consider illegal. But people read the spam and make the purchases, whether it’s non-prescription Viagra, penny stocks or whatever.

The Types Of Spam

A lot of spam is advertising, trying to sell you something. The thing is, it’s usually something quite worthless – a penny stock that the ads say will rise in value spectacularly but if you invest your money you’ll lose it all, Viagra at low prices that quite possibly isn’t the real thing at all but an Asian counterfeit containing who knows what, enlargers for parts of the male anatomy and so on.

But some spam is more dangerous. It doesn’t want you to buy anything, but to click on a link to an Internet website that offers something tantalising. Do it, and suddenly you’ll find your computer infected by malware, and possibly part of a so-called “botnet” that distributes, you guessed it, more spam.

There are also what are known as “phishing” mails. They claim to be from a financial institution, possibly your bank, saying there’s been a security problem with someone trying to access your account (or something similar), and they need you to log in to you account so they can confirm all the details. They even include a link to make it easy. Click on that and the page you go to looks very much like the real thing, but it’s not. Once you’ve given over those details you might find your real bank account stripped, and then your identity stolen.

Stopping Email Spam

It’s impossible to stop every piece of spam. As soon as you learn how to stop most of it the spammers come up with a new wrinkle.

But virtually all email programs have spam filters that enable you to set parameters that can cut out most of it, although, as said, ISPs have become much, much better at making sure very little of it actually gets through to the customers.

There are also programs that let you preview your mail before you download it to your inbox. Some are free whilst others cost, but they let you look at the mail and decide if you want to download it. You can blacklist some senders and domains if you wish, and even fire off quick replies.

They’re ideal for keeping potentially harmful spam off your computer, and if you subscribe to a number of lists, you can read the posts without having to download everything.

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