As mentioned earlier, emails
triggered by viruses are also a leading source of spam. The most insidious of
these may be received directly from people you normally correspond with over
email, but the majority are from seemingly random addresses or disguised ones,
an example being the recent 'Microsoft patch' worm known as 'W32.Dumaru @
mm' which you may have received in the
hundreds over the past few months. This worm disguises itself as being from
'security @ Microsoft.com'
worms such as w32.Dumaru scan files in your computer as part of the process of
infection, and can pull email addresses from many other sources besides your
Outlook Express address book. In fact, most recent worms can extract email
addresses from stored .html files in your Internet Explorer history folder,
meaning any email address on any web page you have visited recently is going to
get spammed by you if you unwittingly infect your computer.
Techniques to Avoiding Spam
Let's look at some methods you
can use to stem the flow of garbage into your inbox. Several of these are pure
common sense, but by applying all of the methods together, you can armour
yourself quite effectively against spam. Unfortunately, there is still not
really a reliable method for stopping the spam from reaching you altogether
without losing the occasional important message, so the below methods focus on
filtering spam out to 'junk' folders and addresses so you do not have to pick
through it to get at your regular mail, blocking out repeat senders of unwelcome
email, and using common sense to avoid common 'spam traps' in the first
One of the best ways of
avoiding spam is to not avoid it at all, but to actually welcome it, with open
arms into an email address that you have no intention of checking. Make a
Hotmail account, or the equivalent (you know, boxospam @ somesite.com) and use
this address when you are registering or filling out forms for companies you
have no interest in ever receiving email from. Empty the thing out once a month
if you like, but otherwise you can happily let the junk mail accumulate in a
tidy pile away from your view.
Opt-out of opt-ins
As we stated before, it is
highly unlikely that any of the pre-checked offers from whoever you just signed
up with are going to offer you anything besides more spam to clutter up your
inbox. The sensible thing to do is to uncheck anything you are not sure you want
to receive. This will help cut down on your spam quotient.
Note that while many spam
emails will offer a link to allow you to remove yourself from their mailing
list, this is often not a sensible thing to do. While 'legitimate' commercial
email purveyors may respect your wishes on this front, replying to the addresses
provided may simply serve to confirm your email address as working and invite
more spam. Better to use one of the below methods to block it out completely.
Using Outlook Express
message rules to filter spam
Outlook Express contains
a simple set of message handling rules that you can put into effect to sort
your incoming mail. Depending on the subject, the sender, the contents of the
email or its attachments, you can choose to stream email to a separate folder
or even delete it automatically.
In effect, OE will examine your incoming mail and
decide how to handle it based on the rules you specify. Message rules are useful
for filtering out repeating spam like the fake Microsoft patch email, or spam
that covers a certain subject (you might wish to block out the V-word for
example, or possibly 'add inches...').