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How to put a stop to SPAM

se anti-spam software – obvious but the first step that you must take. All the well-known security vendors such as CA, McAfee and Symantec have spam filters that you can use very easily to put up an initial line of defence against unwanted e-mails. More sophisticated software is also available – consult your local reseller for advice if you are unsure about what you need.

Scan and eliminate spyware regularly – Just by surfing around the web you will pick up spyware – software that scans your activity on the Internet and sends information to companies, such as company e-mail address, which are then used in spam campaigns. Once again most of the major companies provide any spyware and spyware detection tools.

Use a different or separate e-mail address to your main e-mail when you post messages to any public forum, such as newsgroups and mailing lists. These are used to ‘farm’ e-mails for spammers. Most Internet services provide a way to set up a free e-mail address so make use of this facility and check it now and again for spam. Even better, just don’t go into public chat rooms.

Don’t give away e-mail addresses and information unnecessarily Once again, if you register to use a site, if you can avoid it, do not provide your main e-mail address. Also, don’t make the individual e-mail addresses of contacts available on your web site – if you need a contact address, set an info@ or enquiries@ address and assign someone to monitor it for genuine enquiries.

Watch out for check-boxes on web sites – if you need to register on a web site, make sure that when you provide your details that you do not inadvertently opt-in to any options to "receive information from time to time from carefully selected suppliers". Of course, you may very well want to receive such information but make sure you trust your supplier before you check the box.

Don’t respond to speculative e-mails from addresses you can’t identify – one of the reasons spam gets used is because it works and it only works because people respond to it. Don’t even visit the web site links provided by these e-mails – such action is certain to lead to more spam coming your way.

Beware of phishing scams – one of the most heinous and rapidly-growing forms of spam is phishing – speculative e-mails sent in the hope that the recipient will be gullible enough to send back information on themselves by return. A lot of phishing tries to get you to provide financial details and claims to have been sent by a bank or financial institution. You must be really aware of these scams and never provide such data over e-mail.

Switch to an Internet Service Provider that has anti-spam protection – many have some safeguards against spam but not all of them. Some of the things ISP’s can do to help include having a policy that stipulates that customers are not expected to participate in spamming activity, filtering for potential spam and sending warnings to customers (sometimes this is an extra service for which you have to pay), and ways of preventing spammers harvesting e-mail addresses.

One note of caution when it comes to spam – you can be too careful and set up anti-spam measures that are too stringent and stop e-mails that you really would like to receive from getting through. If you need help in getting the balance right, talk to your local supplier.