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what is available to help fight rising spam messages?

some sources report that up to 50 percent of all e-mail is spam. for some of the larger isps, such as aol and msn that have built-in spam filters, it is estimated that 80 percent of its mail is bunk. the rising numbers of spam messages landing in inboxes have company officials fed up due to the costs of lowered productivity.

spammers are like stray cats; once you feed them, they don't go away. it isn't long before all the other stray cats will come around too. their come-ons, far from being cute as kittens, can also be stopped before they reach your inbox.
according to a new consumer reports study, aol blocks 1.5 billion messages a day for its 35 million customers. therefore, the spam that actually reaches us is a small percentage of what is really traveling the information superhighway.

the following are some suggestions that can help you sop up the remaining mess that seeps past the isps.
filters work like anti-virus software and may be installed on the computer that you use daily for reading e-mail or on the company's e-mail server. these software packages typically take two approaches to filtering out spam. the first is software that determines if the e-mail came from a "known" spamming source. ideally, this is a good method. however, spammers find ways around the "black list" by using fraudulent information attached to the e-mail. the second is software that scans e-mail for potentially spam-related material. although it is quite effective, it has the potential to block out important e-mail.

if the possibility that a few of your incoming e-mails will be wrongly rejected is not a real issue for you, look into purchasing e-mail filters. they are not perfect but they continue to, evolve along with spammers' attempts to circumvent them.
a relatively new technology, challenge and response blockers work by challenging the first e-mail sent by a sender. the first time an e-mail user receives an email from a sender, the anti-spam software sends an e-mail back to the sender with a word embedded in the image. (this is the challenge.) the sender then responds to the challenge by replying to the e-mail, indicating what word is embedded in the image. from that point on, any mail from that sender will not be blocked from entering your inbox. despite the annoyance for the first time e-mails, this method looks promising. there are still some patent issues that need to be resolved with this technology.

spambayes are a recent technology. this is a self-learning system that allows the user to define what is considered to be spam. this method looks promising, but it has to go through the test of time. for more information see www.infoworld.com/article/03/05/16/20tcspam_1.html

other simple suggestions
never buy from a spammer. by purchasing their products, you are helping them to keep their presence on the internet. if you don't, there isn't any point in sending these e-mails, and they will stop eventually.
when filling out registration forms online, put down what you think would make you least likely to be marketed to and avoid giving out any personal information altogether. if you are sending someone your comments on an email form and you do not want to hear back from them, use a.fake e-mail address

only give your contact information to those companies you believe must have it. moreover, only give it to them if they have a great reputation in not selling that type of information to other organizations.

most e-mail software packages and some free e-mail services come with a rule wizard that allows you to create very simple e-mail filters. by entering words or phrases that you consider as spam, mail with those chosen phrases is blocked out. this is the most elementary method in significantly reducing spam. the best tactic is to just be very particular about giving out your e-mail primary address.

as seen in hudson valley business journal september 11, 2003

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