Garbage Disposal

If you're tired of receiving tons of junk e-mail and want to say goodbye to such messages for good, read on as Windows shows you how to make your inbox a more secure place...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  March 1, 2006

|~|stoppingspammain.jpg|~||~|If you have an e-mail account, you've undoubtedly encountered those shameless inbox-crashers that the online community has christened 'spam'. Spam (also referred to as junk mail) refers to unsolicited commercial e-mails, which are sent to your account without your permission. This not only clogs up your inbox, but can lower your productivity (as you spend more time working out which e-mails are relevant and which are rubbish) and can infect your PC with a worm or virus. Slam the spam Fortunately, there are a number of ways to put an end to junk mail and start a fresh spam-free life. One of the simplest ways of course is by not opening e-mails from unknown senders. Since spammers track most spam e-mails, not opening them will make them think that your e-mail address is inactive, which in turn will stop them from spamming your account further. Besides saving you from more spam, not opening spam also prevents you from infecting your PC. Some spammers insert tracking programs in their e-mails, which activate when an e-mail is opened. These types of e-mails can also contain malicious code that converts a PC into a 'zombie' system. This zombie PC then connects to a specific site that starts using your PC to send out spam messages without your knowledge. However, simply not opening a message isn't enough. You'll also need to disable your e-mail viewer's 'Preview Message' feature, as some spammers include a web bug in their e-mails to see whether or not it has been previewed. Another way to protect yourself against spammers is to avoid sharing your e-mail address via public websites. According to security firm Computer Associates, many websites sell e-mail addresses to database companies. Some of these sites are in fact database creators posing as public websites, which then send spam and phishing attacks back to your PC. Therefore we suggest that you only share your e-mail address only with websites that you trust and have a publicly stated policy covering e-mail data protection. If you need to sign-up for a website or survey with an e-mail address and don't want a lifetime of spam, we suggest using Malinator (available for free at http://mailinator.com). Simply pick any @mailinator.com address and share your address online. Then log into your Mailinator account to check your inbox and any e-mail you received will be present (and automatically deleted after a few hours of you viewing it). We also suggest using this secondary address when using public forums, news groups or mailing lists. Another great option is the free Sneakmail service (available at http://sneake-mail.com). Sneakmail is a free disposable e-mail service. It works like this: provide Sneakmail with your real e-mail address, then create an unlimited amount of disposable e-mail addresses that forward to your real e-mail address. If you start getting spam, you just delete the e-mail address that is getting all the spam and you're good to go! Another option is to acquire and use multiple e-mail addresses for different purposes. For instance, have one e-mail address for friends, one specifically for online purchases and one for receiving mailing lists or newsletters. Contrary to popular belief, clicking on an unsubscribe link in a spam sent by a dodgy firm won't stop spam. In fact, by doing so you only confirm that your e-mail is valid, which means you can expect more spam! By using an unsubscribe link in an e-mail sent by dodgy firm, not only are you saying your e-mail is a live address, you’re risk down-loading a Trojan that turns your PC into an open proxy for sending spam. As mentioned already, spam refers to commercial e-mails sent to you without your permission. These e-mails usually offer deals on everything from financial services to software, but although some of these offers may seem irresistible, we suggest you refrain from buying anything from spam e-mails, as this could mean yet more spam in your inbox. According to Sophos, by purchasing products advertised via spam, you are funding spam further as many spammers sell their customer e-mail addresses to other spammers who wish to advertise their products and offers. ||**|||~||~||~|Filter your e-mail Using filters is key to keeping spam mail at bay. Most e-mail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo all use a junk filter to prevent spam from entering your account. If your e-mail client doesn't provide a filtering feature, we suggest downloading a third-party spam filter or changing your client altogether. Say for instance you're using Microsoft Outlook 2003. First, click on File Menu/Tools and navigate to Options(see pic A). Under Preferences, click the Junk e-mail button. Next, choose the level of junk e-mail message protection you want and click OK. (We suggest setting the protection level to High, as this is the most effective level for catching junk mail.) If you opt for this level, make sure you add known e-mail addresses and domain names to a Safe Senders List to prevent legitimate e-mails from landing in your e-mail account’s Junk Mail folder. Anti-spam software If you want further protection against spam, we recommend using a tough anti-spam tool to help you trap any spam that may have slipped through the cracks. The difference between a junk filter and a fully-fledged anti-spam tool is that a junk filter needs to be set-up, by a you, to block spam, whereas an anti-spam tool has built-in presets and sometimes studies which e-mails are spam based on your feedback. For our pick of the best free anti-spam tools around, check out the box below as well as this month's Windows CD. If you’d like to share some of your top tips for fighting spam, e-mail us at windows@itp.com. ||**||Top spam slamming tips|~||~||~|Top spam slamming tips 1. Don't open spam e-mails 2. Don't share you primary e-mail address via non-trusted websites, newsgroups or forums 3. Use disposable e-mail addresses 4. Refrain from buying products advertised via spam 5. Don't click on unsubscribe links in spam e-mails. ||**||Free anti-spam tools|~||~||~|Free anti-spam tools SpamWeasel Pro www.mailgate.com/products/spamweas/sw_feat.asp Mail Box Dispatcher 2.30 www.anti-spam-tools.com Spamihilator www.spamihilator.com MailWasher www.mailwasher.net Spamfighter www.spamfighter.com||**||

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