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  Dealing with spam e-mail  

There are several ways to block spam, none are 100% effective, but 95% is a reasonable expectation.  To increase spam filters' effectiveness, remember to 'train' yours by marking incorrectly flagged messages rather than simply deleting them.  The following mechanisms are available to combat spam:

  1. Most e-mail storage server providers (often the same as your Internet service provider) offer a spam blocking service.  Some charge extra to use this, others bundle the cost in with the service.  Typically your e-mail may have the subject prepended with a fixed string such as [-SPAM-] when it thinks the mail is junk.  You can then set up most e-mail clients to filter such mails to a special mailbox.

  2. Your anti-virus product - or more accurately, your Internet Security package, may have a spam filter built in. 

  3. You can run a program to do this.  As is often the case, you can get free ones, or you can pay for better quality.  Some examples of well reviewed products that I have no experience of are:

  1. Most mail clients e.g. Outlook (part of the Office suite), Eudora, & Thunderbird can do this.  Outlook Express (freely bundled in with Windows) can not. 

  2. It is possible to set up a free webmail account (e.g. Googlemail) that traps spam then configure your e-mail client to collect from the webmail account using POP.  Your own e-mail address may need to be personalised for this to work seamlessly.

  3. If you have your own domain name (e.g. firstname@surname.me.uk) your registration agent may provide you with the ability to

  • pass all mail to you

  • reject mail not addressed for firstname and bounce it back to the sender marked User unknown

  • reject as above but with assistance message readable by humans advising that firstname be contacted

  1. Greylisting.  This is a development of the previously favoured whitelisting (where your correspondents have to opt in to allow their message to be received by you), and blacklisting (where incoming mail is checked against a list of known spammers and rejected if there is a hit).  When an e-mail server receives a message, it initially rejects it with a temporary failure code.  A standard mail server will simply requeue the message to be delivered a few minutes later.  On second presentation the e-mail server accepts the message as genuine and you receive your message.  Many spam distributors would not bother to investigate failures and so do not resend the message after the initial rejection. 

  2. Sender Policy Framework (SPF) targets forged senders (as most spam messages contain).  It works by adding extra information to the domain system that says which IP addresses are allowed to send mail for a particular domain.