Spam

Spam is unsolited junk e-mail sent to large numbers of e-mail addresses. It is used to promote some product or service and many spam e-mails are pornographic in nature.

Spam Prevention

Unfortunately there are not very many good ways of preventing spam other than keeping your e-mail address secret. It should be kept at a level of security somewhere between your phone number and your social security number. You should be careful about who you give your email address to. Many companies will sell your email address to spam lists, thus making it available to spammers.

I currently use three email accounts as follows.

  • The first account is the one I give to personal acquaintances.
  • The second account I give to companies that have a privacy policy that I am fairly certain won't sell my e-mail address.
  • The third account, I give to companies that I believe I cannot trust to sell my information. I don't worry if these companies can contact me.

I expect to change the third account pretty often, but hopefully the first two will last several years without much spam. The third account may be through a free internet email account service such as hotmail or yahoo.

Managing Spam

Besides keeping your e-mail address secret, the next best spam relief are programs that help you manage spam. Spam can be filtered at the mail server with some programs or they can be a program that plugs into your e-mail client program such as Outlook or Outlook Express. Basically these types of programs filter spam based on several characteristics such as:

  • The subject line
  • The address of the sender
  • Some programs scan the message content and consider length or wording.

Unfortunately none of these scanning methods are 100% accurate although some claim to achieve success rates into the upper 90 percentile. What most of these programs do is to create folders for "friendly" mail or "unfriendly" mail. The friendly mail is put into one folder, unfriendly mail is put into a second folder and there may be a third folder for unknown mail. Unfriendly mail is automatically deleted after some period of time. The capabilities and handling of the mail will vary from program to program. Some that I have considered using include:

There are various opinions about what works when fighting spam. For more information and articles about how to fight spam you can find links to articles at Computer Technical Tutorials Spam .

Spam for Webmasters

If you are a webmaster, spammers will send spam to your domain by sending it to general possible accounts such as administration@yourdomain.com. One way to prevent this is to configure your account with your hosting provider not to respond to undeliverable emails and just automatically delete them. This is called a "::blackhole" setting. The only problem with this is that spammers will still use your bandwidth that you pay for to send you their junk, even though your server deletes them. As spam gets more excessive, it may increase bandwidth costs for webmasters thus discouraging some sites from operating.

Why Spam Should be Illegal

When you connect to the internet, you are paying for a specific service for your use. This service costs a specific amount of money and provides a certan connection speed to the internet. This connection speed indicates your bandwidth. The greater the connection speed, the higher the bandwidth. The higher speed connections cost more money. At this poiint you have paid for the privilege of surfing the internet with your web browser, sending and receiving e-mail, and other activities. The speed at which you can do this is limited by your bandwidth and how fast you can click pages or send or receive e-mail. Consider the Following diagram:

Internet Connections

Each person has a connection to the internet. If the person on the right chooses to use their connection to send e-mail or junk e-mail (spam), that is their choice. They are paying for their connection and they are willing to use it in that manner.

If the person on the left does not want to receive spam, but wants to read personal e-mail and surf the internet, they are willing to receive only personal e-mail. If someone is sending them a lot of spam, they will need to wait for the junk e-mail to be delivered before they can read much of their personal e-mail. They are an unwilling participant regarding the unsolicited e-mail they are receiving. Not only is their connection being used by someone else, but it will take them additional time to sort the mix of e-mail out to get to the mail they want to read. If the receiver had willingly stated that they were interested in receiving the advertisements, it would be another matter.

Of course the sender of the spam is not using all the spam receiver's internet connection, but the spam receiver does not get the opportunity to use their connection in the way they fully intended even though they were the one paying for it. This is the same as stealing even though the effective amount may be small. Imagine, how rich you could be if you could only steal a fraction of a cent per day or week from everyone who uses the internet. That's why spam should be illegal.

Someone may argue that spam is the same as junk mail sent through the postal service so why would it be stealing. This is not true since the sender of mail through the postal service pays for the cost of both pickup and delivery. On the internet, the sender pays for the cost of pickup and the receiver pays for the cost of delivery.

The Real and Permanent Solution to Spam and Viruses

Unfortunately a permanent and good solution will take years to implement. A new mail protocol (method of sending e-mail) must be developed by the internet community and then e-mail servers must be modified to handle that protocol. The changing of the e-mail servers will take the most time.

I believe all e-mail should be digitally signed by the sender in order to be delivered. This way the sender cannot be faked and everyone must take responsibility for their own e-mails. However to get this to work right someone must find a way to keep viruses from being able to digitally sign your e-mails for you automatically. A bug in your e-mail client may allow a virus to digitally sign your e-mails causing this type of solution to be ineffective, however, in this case, there would be no doubt as to who has the virus.

Some Proposed Solutions that Won't Work

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