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The Trouble With Spam Is....
by: Niall Roche
Each day we all face the same challenge. Spam. It doesn't matter if you're a home computer user or the head of IT for a multinational limiting or totally preventing the distribution of junk email to your computer(s) is now a daily chore.

The sheer frustration that spam causes combined with the number of lost man hours adds up to junk email being a very real problem for all involved. You have to filter through all the junk to find your own personal or work email. This on its own is annoying enough. When you consider the security risks from spyware, trojans, diallers and attempted identity theft spam becomes much more than just an annoyance - it becomes a minefield for any computer user.

So what can you do to block spam? The first step each user should take is to simply limit the number of people who know your personal email address. If you have a work email address then just use it for work. For home users only distribute your email address to people you know and trust. This simple move can cut your spam problems by 50%.

But what about all those online forms I need to fill in? No problem. Use a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail for this purpose. Treat it as a throwaway account that you can use as a buffer between your true personal email address and the rest of the world. Let it fill up with junk email and then just login once a week and delete everything you see.

Your password. It's amazing how many people set the password for their email account to abc123 or something similar. These passwords are incredibly easy for spammers to guess and would give them easy access to your mail account. The password for your email account should follow corporate standards of being 6 - 8 characters long and be alphanumeric (a mixture of numbers and letters). Make it longer if you can. Using a weak password is just asking for trouble.

If you're already receiving a ton of spam then you'll need to invest in a spam blocker. There are free spam blockers you can download and also also their paid equivalents. A great spam blocker can cost you as little as $30 and you'll see an immediate reduction in the amount of spam you're receiving.

Over and above installing software on your computer (especially for Mac users as your choices are limited) you could sign up for one of the web based challenge response spam blockers like Mailblocks or SpamArrest. Both of these services are ideal for somebody who's on the move a lot. Also because they're web based there's no software to install so they're perfect for Mac or PocketPC/Palm users.

Taking a pro-active anti spam stance is the next step. If you get junk email from people then check the mail headers and report any offensive email to the hosting company or ISP involved. Never, ever reply to spam directly. This simply confirms to the spammer that your email address is active. Also never click on any hyperlinks in any junk email - this again confirms your existence and can lead to a virus being downloaded directly onto your PC. Filter the spam, report the abusers, delete the remaining junk email.

Spam can be stopped. Not by some corporate giant or genius programmer. It can be stopped by each of you individually. Spammers rely on the widespread availability of email addresses and for people to reply to these emails or click on the links within the emails. The sooner people stop reacting emotionally to spam and simply filter, report and delete the offensive mail itself the sooner the lucrative market of bulk email will dry up for the spammers.

About the author:
This article was provided courtesy of which reviews spam blocker software and other anti spam utilties.

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