Spammers should beware....hopefully !!

  Derek 16:48 24 Oct 2003

I read that AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces to make every attempt to eradicate this vile business of email corruption.

For my part I welcome this since I suffer continuous logjams every day. As an example, I usually receive about 110 emails a day of which 97% are either pornographic, attempts to sell medical supplies, free loan offers and general filth and rubbish. Apart from this, numerous daily attempts are made to deposit spies and viruses....but I'm well protected.

With some regret I have to suffer this because of my inability to change my address. Reason, simple - I belong to a charity based organisation and there are many who reply on the address.

What problems are caused to business both large and small cannot be imagined and must be collosal.

I would welcome some firm suggestions on how we, the members of this forum, can contribute to solving this problem.

Without doubt, sorting this agravation out is going to rely on all of us.

MEMBERS....WHAT ABOUT IT.......and yes I'm shouting !

  BurrWalnut 16:55 24 Oct 2003

What happened to the £5,000 fine?

Or is it something I dreamt?

  Alan Ryan 17:04 24 Oct 2003

According to a report on the BBC, 55% of all e-mail traffic is now originated by the spammers.

  Pesala 17:06 24 Oct 2003

One often hears the response "Well, there's nothing you can do about it, so just delete the offending email." The other type of response is to recommend mailwasher or similar software that is supposed to block spam.

I don't think either of these are satisfactory solutions. IMO what is needed is legislation to put the responsibility on the ISP to prevent this abuse of their service. I don't believe that it impossible to track down spammers. Anyone sending child pornography can be tracked down and prosecuted, why not spammers?

Before FE intervenes to say that this is PC problem solving forum, and not a discussion forum, I would like to say that this is one of the biggest PC problems at the moment. I delete only a a dozen or so emails every day, as opposed to the hundreds received by larger organisations such as yours, but some are virus laden and very large. The latest nuisance is the Swen Worm.A virus, which always arrives in pairs - one infected, the other apparently not. Both emails are 157 Kbytes. That's 314 Kbytes, which is far more than the genuine email I receive in a week.

PC users should lobby for changes to the law, and I sincerely hope that PCA will take up this cause to campaign on behalf of their readers.

  Djohn 17:17 24 Oct 2003

I've received a reply from AOL regarding my question to them on the blocking of Spam. I have not yet had a confirmation from them to reproduce it here in the forum. I will as soon as permission arrives.

What I can tell you from the mail is, AOL deal with 3.1 billion e-mails each day, [World-wide], and of these 2.2 billion are Spam. Yes, I mean Billion and not million. j.

  Pesala 17:23 24 Oct 2003

There are fines for fly-tipping but people still do it because it is worth the risk to them.

What is needed is a criminal prosecution, community service, and restraining orders, as for vandalism.

  BurrWalnut 19:44 24 Oct 2003

Fines are the answer because it hurts these people where it matters - in their wallets.

I would have preferred Lord Archer to be fined a few million rather than the taxpayers paying him to write books in prison.

  Derek 07:03 25 Oct 2003

I would like to think that quite soon we could place a tick in the box "Resolved" but I feel this is a long way away.Indeed we can hammer the ISP's and we can write to our 'top table' representatives in various governments but, how many of us members of this forum would do this. My experience in these matters is that apathy always prevails and that's a great pity.

I hope that the spammers don't win and one might say ...well how can they? but they can and they are doing so. How many important emails go unanswered because of 'spam' traffic, how long will it be before emailing becomes uneconomical to use because recipients cannot afford the time to clear all their rubbish out and, how many of our important emails are dumped or blocked and added to a blacklist through sheer dispair.

Yes, it has happened to me with an insurance company and my financial advisor.
Pesala has made the important point that child pornographers can be caught and asks "Why can we not catch these spammers" .....I ask this question too.

Please....all of you, think about this serious problem, make your comments, suggest an action plan and keep contributing.

I'm going on 73 and thus getting to the 'fag-end' of my term but nearly all of you are just 'starting out'.


  Andsome 07:32 25 Oct 2003

The problem with ISP's blocking spam is that they can block genuine mail in error. There have been quite a few complaints on this score concerning AOL. I am not technically minded enough to suggest an answer, but we do need one. I am now averaging about 50 per day, with about 15 genuine e-mails. So you can see what my percentages are.

  Forum Editor 07:51 25 Oct 2003

Actually most of the forum members who responded in a recent quick poll were middle aged.

It isn't necessary to write to 'top table' representatives - most of them receive as many spam messages as the rest of us, it's a global problem. For the same reason, magazines like ours have no need to campaign, governments are well aware of the size of the problem - they simply can't do anything to stop it.

AOL may well be acting to try to stop spam on their mail servers, but in the process they are causing massive problems for millions. I have several clients who use AOL and I'm totally unable to email them - AOL have, in their wisdom decided that all mail from my ISP (BT) is spam, and they've been bouncing it. This ridiculous situation results in chaos, which is why Djohn wrote to them.

To understand the problems facing governments you need to understand the true nature of spam - it's virtually impossible to trace the source of much of it, so there's nobody to prosecute. If the UK government devoted the necessary resources to the complex business of tracking down and prosecuting individual spammers there would be a national outcry - the cost would be phenomenal - and still the spam would flood in from abroad. Many countries simply do not have the money (or even the will) to fight this menace effectively, and so it goes on. The person or organisation that comes up with a definitive solution to the problem will be rich beyond their wildest dreams, and I can assure you there's no shortage of people trying.

Of course it's important that big organisations try to fight the spammers, and I'm the first to praise them for it ( I receive over 300 spam messages a day), but the blunt instrument approach that we've seen from AOL is NOT the answer. It's up to each of us to do as much as possible to beat spam, and there are several weapons available to us:

1. Never, under any circumstances reply to a spam message, or click on an 'unsubscribe' link. These actions simply confirm to the spammer that he/she has hit a live email address, and you'll get even more of it.

2. Don't be tempted to 'spam the spammer' by bouncing emails - it does no good, and clogs up the world's email servers even more.

3. Invest in a decent spam-blocking utility like Mailwasher Pro from Firetrust
click here and delete spam at the server level - before it reaches your computer.

4. Don't visit porn or warez sites (sites that offer software cracks and illegal serial numbers etc.)

5. If you have a web site, make sure your email address isn't on it as a mailto hyperlink. This will enable web robots to harvest it and you'll get even more spam. Create a gif of your address and use that instead.

6. Use a secondary email address when filling in web forms and subscribing to newsletters - that way you'll prevent many spammers from sending to your primary address.

Finally, do your bit to lessen the huge load on the world's email servers by being a thoughtful emailer - don't send unecessary messages yourself.

  Andsome 15:50 26 Oct 2003

You are offering a link to download Mailwasher Pro. What if any is the advantage to a single machine user over the standard free Mailwasher?

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