Spam Wars: Fighting Email Spam With Spam Filters

Rick Vidallon
 


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Have you ever wondered how those odd-ball emails make their way into your inbox? Some contain absurd titles like: There was so much sugar in that dessert that it made my eyes hurt! Hippolytus as old records have said. Never been better since I laughed the bank. Welcome to Spam Wars. There are never ending battles being waged for your inbox. It is the spammers’ quest, duty and job to get you to click or open their email. But how in the heck does it get past your spam protection?

Confirmation Required This is the highest level of protection where an action or reply is required by the sender. While this is an effective way to block unwanted emails, you may end up blocking important automated emails from important sources like your bank or credit card companies.

Reporting Malicious Spammers Two very common types of malicious emails are virus attachments and spam that seeks to steal your financial information. Virus attachments cannot infect your computer unless you click or open the attachment. There are many virus protection software programs that warn you once a virus attachment has been received. Some popular programs include: Norton, McAffee and Avast.

Spammers seeking to steal your personal information or gain access to your financial information go to great lengths to trick unwary users by creating emails that look exactly like an official email from a reputable financial or online company.

Detecting Financial Fraud If you see an email that looks suspicious there are ways to detect it. Let’s say you receive an email from Bank of America. The email warns you that someone has attempted to access your account and your cooperation is needed to prevent this from happening. The email looks very official and contains their logo along with a properly formatted hyperlink that looks something like this: bankofamerica.com/account_resolutions. But once you click this, there is a very different link, which still looks official. The page still looks like Bank of American but the web address is linking to another website aka: clickster.com/bankofamerica.com When you see these emails forward them to the proper departments of the actual company or organization. Here are two emails for reporting suspicious emails to Pay Pal and Bank of America. Forward suspicious emails to abuse@bankofmaerican.com and spoof@paypal.com Spammers’ Weapon Of Choice The spammers’ weapon of choice is surprise. Heck, even I've been fooled once or twice out of sheer curiosity. The email might come to me titled as ‘Dear Rick’, Or ‘Rick, please read this’. Spammers or mass email marketers need to sneak past your spam filters, which are either setup by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or your own email client spam filters.

Internet Service Providers can only do so much. It’s up to you if want more protection. There are third party providers that specialize in identifying and blocking spam.

How Spam Is Identified Here are the primary parameters that define an email:

From Address: legal_billpay@biz.com! From Domain: billpayers.net Subject: We pay all your late bill fees today. Body Text: You have been approved! Attachments:

Specific file Names: paynow Specific File Extensions: paynow. exe

Most ISPs have a ongoing file of known addresses and domains belonging to spammers. However, identifying spam using the subject line and body text is more difficult and must be blocked at the user level.

Blocking Spam Based On Use Since I run a business I do not want to unwittingly block new emails from potential business inquiries. So I have to deal with a moderate amount of spam. Some users work around the problem by creating multiple emails for friends, family, business and general use. If you have some techy skills you may define your own spam filters within specific email domain accounts. You may view or download my own set of filters for free at the link below.

Spam-Filtering-Rules

As you receive new spam you may add them to this list to decrease your spam influx.

Rick Vidallon is President of Visionefx, a Web design company based in Virginia Beach, Va. They provide services to national companies as well as small to medium businesses throughout the United States. Rick can be reached at (757) 619-6456 or rick@visionefx.net . Visit us on the web at http://www.visionefx.net

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