2013 Update on Spam

May 3, 2013

Back in August of 2007, we published an article in our newsletter and on our website about Spam. If you would like to check that article out, here’s a link to it: http://www.ct-cp.com/?p=55. Since then, we have published annual updates to that article and wanted to do that again today.

As of April 7th, 2013, 72.5% of all email traffic on the Internet is spam. Although spam comes from all over the world, the country that sends the most spam is the United States (11.4%). From that, you can infer that approximately 70% of the email you receive is junk mail. If you receive 10 emails a day, then having to deal with 7 spam message a day isn’t bad. But if you get a lot of email each day, then spam can be quite time consuming and frustrating to deal with.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to try to avoid getting spam in the first place. Be careful who you give your email address to. Create a free email address on Gmail, outlook.com, or someplace like that and use that you can use to register on websites, sign up for newsletters, and for all of your online shopping so that you can keep your personal email address clean for personal communication. Never reply to a spam email or click on a link in a spam email. For that matter, don’t click on any links in any email unless you are absolutely sure it’s safe. And you already know not to open any email attachments unless you are absolutely sure it’s safe. It’s also a good idea to turn off message preview.

If you have a blog or website, it’s important not to put your email address in your blog or website in plain text because spam-bots will pick it up and you will get a ton of spam. There are many ways to display your email address on a blog or website in a way where people can see it, but spam-bots can’t. If you need help with that, let us know.

If you read your email online through a web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, then there’s really not much you can do to improve your spam protection. You pretty much have to rely on your email provider. If, however, you download your email into an email client like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, or Thunderbird to name a few, then you do have options for enhancing your spam protection. This mainly applies to those of you using POP3 to download your email. If you use HTTP email like msn.com, hotmail.com, live.com, or outlook.com, then this doesn’t apply to you. In addition, if you use Gmail via IMAP, this doesn’t apply to you either. This is mainly directed at those of you who use your ISP provided email address in an email client.

The spam protection built-in to most email clients doesn’t work very well because it relies on you building a block list of email addresses. It doesn’t work because most spammers don’t send email from the same email address each time. Spammers move from email server to email server changing where they send email from because they are always on the run.

Many Internet Security packages include anti-spam functionality. If yours does, we recommend using it as these are usually pretty good. You can also find some free anti-spam packages and there are also those that cost money.

Our favorite free anti-spam software is Cloudmark DesktopOne. There is a paid version that costs only $20 and can be used on two computers. That’s a good deal. But the free one is all most people will need. Another good one is SpamBayes, but the problem with it is that it only works in Outlook and Outlook Express. And it doesn’t work on the 64 bit version of Outlook.

If you need help or advice on dealing with spam, please let us know.

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