Spam


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This section will try to keep you up-to-date what you can do about Spam. I am not referring to pink luncheon meat - to which I am rather partial - but to unsolicited e-mails which advertise everything from Pharmaceuticals to Viagra.  See the list of anti spam programs below.  The EU is getting serious about Spam and is warning member countries that have not enacted anti - spam laws that they could risk court action.

One of the reasons we are blighted by spam and worse is that our email addresses and other information is being gathered by unscrupulous internet users (for monetary gain). Within the last couple of years, information about millions of people has been gathered when they have been subscribers to all of the following popular sites : LINKEDIN, TUMBLER, AVAST, MYSPACE.  In computer terminology, if you have given your email address to any of these your details may have been PWNED (or stolen). This is likely to include the password which you uploaded. Some of the sites immediately write to subscribers when they realise this has happened. advising you to change your password.  But many do not. And many people use the same password for various sites, even vulnerable one such as on line banking, Paypal, Ebay, Amazon and so on. Passwords are a universal problem and the sooner they can be replaced by a better system, the better.  We have the technology.....

July 2016 Similar to the case below,I was told by a couple of people that they had received suspicious emails from me with links that might be to advertising or something worse.  This means that they have hacked into my contacts list.  Unfortunately I don't know how.  One address was so old that it must have been from an old list.  See https://askleo.com/email_hacked_7_things_you_need_to_do_now/
  It is a difficult one.  I would not want to change my email address.  And would it help? I have changed my password.  But they already have that list.  I will wait and see if anything further happens before taking more radical action.  I use a mailshot program called Mailchimp, which goes to great lengths to prevent hacking.  But the hack may have happened before I used that..
Have you noticed ? Spam declined to less than 50% of enterprise email traffic this year, according to a new report from Symantec. Spam and phishing are both declining. But ransomware is up in corporate environments.

Lately there have been a number of instances of emails, which appear to come from a friend.  They have various titles and always suggest that you click on a line in the email.  If you do it may just display and advert.  So, what's the problem.  The problem is that the email was not sent by your friend. Someone has got into his email and sent it as if it is from him and sent the message to many of his contacts,  Which means they MAY have cracked his password. SO THIS SHOULD BE CHANGED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Worse than this, if you click on the link you will become a victim of the same scam and your password will be cracked and emails sent to your friends. So, not only must you change your password YOU SHOULD ALSO EMAIL ALL YOUR CONTACTS WARNING THEM NOT TO OPEN SUCH EMAILS. The strange thing is that all these emails contain a subject line which has a word with a space where you wouldn't expect it.  So it may just say CONS IDERED or DIS  PLAY.  It is a dead giveaway and I am pleased they do it.

Dec 2012 My Gmail Email program is VERY good at filtering out spam.  When I look in the bin, there they are.  Recently the organ enlargers have given up but I am getting some mysterious ones that say (frequently) Here's some activity you have missed on Facebook. The other frequent one is from Linkedin which says *****  ****** has sent you a direct message. If they really want to contact me there are other ways.

May 2012  I use Gmail for preference and Live Mail as an alternative and I must say that both are doing a good job of keeping the spam at bay. If I get some I report it and, I assume that if enough people do this the spammer is blocked from my address.  I do, occasionally, go to my main email addresses at source (i.e by going to the server, the ISP) site and viewing the inbox there.  In the case of Virgin I go to www.virgin.com and sign in to my email.  There I find a list of spam which has been filtered out and I can then delete them to prevent my inbox becoming full. Much of it is warning from banks I don't even belong to, plus the occasional off of a great deal of money that I can claim.  This rubbish is promptly deleted, then deleted from the bin, although I do take a cursory look to see if the filter has been to thorough.  But this days it rarely is.

September 2011 Not exactly spam but an equal nuisance, my web browser home page suddenly changed to iMesh, which I didn't like.  I found it in my startup and unticked it and also took it off Programs (Add/Remove)  I still had to return my browsers to Google as the main search engines.  I suspect that iMesh also introduced a dating site at the top of the page and I started getting messages from that.  These sites are desperate to take over.  Get rid of them as soon as they happen. The other common one is Babylon, which has besmirched its reputation by getting people to inadvertently add it to the browser whilst downloading from sites like CEN (which also used to be a decent download site)  Why do these folk risk their whole reputation ? See Q & A for a way to remove it

October 2010. In addition to email spam we all suffer from things being delivered by hand, often by the postman.  http://www.junkbuster.org.uk/ is a site which helps stem this flow (and save a few forests at the same time) You can just tick a number of items.

October 2010 There is increasing evidence of spammers hacking into address books so that a link to their advertising is sent out in YOUR name.  Yahoo and Hotmail email are especially affected.  There is a weakness in their programs which allows your address book to be compromised.  Comments on the net suggest (1) Don't use Yahoo Mail (2) Change your password three times in a week. (3) Amend your addresses by adding an X or Z to the beginning of each (and just deleting it when you want to use it). I am pleased to say that I have not had this problem with Gmail (yet!) and recommend that as a good alternative. However, today I received one from an AOL user so this things seems to be spreading.

Sept 2010  The popular and effective program Ihatespam has been withdrawn from sale. It was replaced by http://www.cloudmarkdesktop.com/

8th April 2009  In a recent report from Microsoft it was found that spam as a percentage of emails can be as much as 80 or 90%. Whereas this seems high to me I am surprised that virus infection is as low as the quoted figures which were around 8.6 per thousand. In the UK it is lower, at 5.7 per thousand.    

December 2008. Quite a few people have told me that they use Spamfighter, which is free.  If your ISP is poor at spamblocking it would be worth downloading from http://www.spamfighter.com/download_download.asp

November 2008  In a recent study the University of Southern California took over part of an existing spammer's network. They sent 350 million junk e-mail messages for a fake pharmacy campaign. After 26 days only 28 sales resulted, The response rate was less than 0.00001%. Had it been a genuine campaign this would have resulted in revenues of $2,731.88 about $100 a day. Although this seems a lot of work for little return, scaling this up to the full Storm network (which uses thousands of YOUR computers to distribute spam) the researchers estimate that the controllers of the vast system are netting about $7,000 (4,430) a day or more than $2m (1.28m) per year. (but, if legitimately selling medicines, presumably their net return is far less)

Question: If spamming in the USA is illegal and the UCSD was able to infiltrate the network, why isn't the US government closing down this pestilence with massive fines on the perpetrators ?

Answer? : According to Spamhaus ( a reputable spam fighting organisation) all networks claim to be anti-spam, but some executives "factor revenue made from hosting known spam gangs into corporate policy decisions to continue to sell services to spam operations. Others simply decide that closing the holes in their end-user broadband systems that allow spammers access would be too costly to their bottom lines. We asked Microsoft what it was doing to curtail spammers hitching a ride on its service, but at time of writing it hadn’t responded to our request for comment".

In America, the top country in the spamming league, business ($$$) is all.  And we all suffer from it. Change we want !  Come on Obama !

You think you get a lot of spam ? A Mr Wells, from Exeter, was getting 16 million spam messages per year !  He decided to install a filtering program called ClearlyMy Mail. He said, "ClearMyMail came along at just the right time – my only other option was to change my email address which I've had for years and is connected to all my log-on details for various sites, but it was getting to the point where I couldn't see any other alternative," he said in a statement. Dan Field, managing director of ClearMyMail, explained that Wells became the particular target of spammers because he made the mistake of clicking on the unsubscribe links of spam emails when he first started using the account. "That just confirmed that the email address was active allowing spammers to sell on his details to other junk mailers, further increasing the amount of spam he was receiving," A study showed that, of the 5 people receiving the most spam (up to 44,000 per day), three were using the ISP Orange.

March 08 Six botnets are responsible for 85% of all spam, according to an analysis by Marshal (http://www.marshal.com/trace/traceitem.asp?article=567). A botnet is a group of computers owned by ordinary people, like you and me, which have been infected by a virus in such a way that they can be used by spammers to distribute their advertising to the world.  Occasionally the authorities manage to close down a botnet and you will notice a temporary easing off of spam, or a change of emphasis in what they are trying to sell.
The Srizbi botnet is the largest single source of spam - accounting for 39% of junk mail messages – followed by the Rustock botnet, responsible for 21% of the spam. Spam coming from the Mega-D botnet was temporarily stemmed after control servers were taken out in mid-February (08). The estimated 35,000 zombie clients associated with the Mega-D botnet were infected with the Ozdok Trojan. After 10 days of inactivity, spam from compromised hosts began flowing again, after hackers re-established control. Despite the short offline period, Spam-D accounted for an estimated 11% of junk mail in February. Other active spam botnets include Hacktool.Spammer (AKA Spam-Mailer) and botnets associated with the Pushdo (AKA Pandex) family of malware. The infamous Storm botnet, estimated to have about 85,000 compromised hosts, is thought to be responsible for only 3% of spam. Most of the times, spammers have access to multiple botnets and they have been simultaneously sending spam promoting Express Herbals, a line of male enhancement pills. (almost 70% of spam promotes male enhancement pills) According to February statistics from Network Box, a managed security firm, the US continued to pump out the most spam and spread the most viruses. The country accounted for 13 % of all viruses and was the source of 15% of all spam (that is 2.5 times more than its closest junk mail rival, Turkey).

Sept 07  The February fashion for pushing penny stocks has now given way to a wide variety of spam, pharmaceuticals, increasing the size of a body part etc. But  I have now found that the Spam filtering by NTL (and Googlemail) is so accurate that I can delete them with only a cursory glance.  NTL mark the subject line [SPAM?] In fact I have written a 'Rule' in my Email program which says.  If the subject line starts with the word [SPAM?] Delete it.  It is now sending them to the deleted folder which can be emptied quickly via File. How to write a rule in Outlook Express ?  Take a look at my Tips Page

But to quote a contributor to the PcPitsop blog "The only reason people get this junk is they put their Email address on the web. I keep my main account free from this junk. I NEVER use this account to do any thing on the web. The only people that have this address is friends and family. I use a WEB mail account for all the sites that ask for a email address. The result ... I have NEVER received a unwanted email over the last 5 years I have had my main email account". Which is what I have always said :  If it gets too bad, change your address and make sure you do as the above correspondent does

Avoiding Spam  See  also http://askbobrankin.com/spam_blocker.html

AOL claims that they are blocking a million spams a day.  Fortunately AOL 9 allows you to see and retrieve  'false positives'.  Be sure to look for them. I have an additional email address with Google. Although it occasionally lets though a heavily disguised spam rarely have I found anything in the spam folder that has been legitimate email for me.  If Google can do it, ALL ISPs should be able to. My NTL has a reasonably effective spam detector. It puts the word [SPAM?] in the subject line and I have made a rule in Outlook Express which sends these to a separate folder, so they can easily be deleted en masse.  Sept 07. I have now become so confident that NTL selects spam correctly that I have changed the 'rule' to "If the subject line contains [SPAM?] Delete it.  Goodbye spam !  If your ISP is not doing its job in filtering spam you should complain.

XP only Question :  Lately, when I turn my Firewall off, I am getting Spam sent directly to my screen.
Answer :
 This is different from the usual e-mail Spam but equally annoying.  It says things like "Your computer is vulnerable" or "try this slimming aid". This spam is using the Microsoft Messenger facility in Windows XP. This is nothing to do with MSN Messenger. If I turn my Firewall back on it doesn't happen. So get one. See below. Alternatively, you can disable the Messenger facility, which seems pretty useless. Follow this if you can. Go Start, Run, SERVICES.MSC double click the word Messenger and select disable in the Startup Type scroll bar. Click Apply and leave the Services screen (right click the X, top right)

There are a many anti-spam programs.  A recent thorough investigation of nine programs revealed very different results, some achieving as little as 62% success and (worse) another actually suggesting as much as 37% of legitimate mail was Spam. It showed that the anti-spam software which is integrated with other programs (suites) was not as successful as dedicated programs. The suites mentioned were PC-Cillin, Norton, Panda and Mcafee, all with quite poor detection rates. Best value (at $20 - around 11) was Ihatespam which achieved a 96.2% detection rate with very few 'false positives'. Unfortunately, that is no longer available (from 1st Sept 2010) A high scorer was Cloudmark's Spamnet ($48) which detected 98.2% with almost no false positives. Even this detection rate was beaten by Audiotreve Inboxer but this program only worked with Outlook (not Outlook Express) and so was not suitable for many people.
Other possibilities include www.mailwasher.net (19) but there is a free version.   
A FREE program called Spamfighter, which is a 7.2Mb download for the standard version. 17 for the Pro version

Qurb from www.qurb.com  is really more suited to people who only want email from people in their address book SpamButcher $30 (recommended by www.webattack.com)  

If you use Mozilla's Thunderbird as an alternative to Outlook Express you will find it has a built in Spam blocker. In the Tools menu select Junk mail controls to adjust 'filtering' settings and check the box marked "Do not mark messages as junk mail if the sender is in my address book"

Interesting anti-spam sites include http://www.cauce.org/, Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (USA)   www.iwf.org.uk is the place to report illegal content you find on the net.

Beware of V-Spam : If you get a spam email then DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINK in it, even one which say you can unsubscribe with it.  It is possible that the link will lead to a website which will send you a VIRUS !  This is called V-SPAM 

Andrew reports that the new BT Spam detector (see below) is working with around 80% of his spam (and he gets plenty). The rest is sent onto his normal Outlook Express Inbox where it has been detected 100% by his program Spam Inspector. It costs around $30.  So, between the two he is managing to detect all spam and no genuine email has been stopped so far. Sounds like real progress at last.

An EEC Directive which came into force on 31st October 2005 enables offenders (who spam you without your permission) to be fined up to 5,000. This will not, of course stop spam from other countries, principally the United States. A recent commission visiting the USA to persuade them to adopt the EEC stance of 'Opting In' to spam returned empty handed, as the Americans were already pushing through legislation which required them to 'Opt Out'. Nevertheless, one company in California is facing a massive fine due to a local law.  

Both Microsoft (MSN) and BT have introduced a spam buster. It is called Brightmail.  They have a million 'fictitious' addresses from which they harvest the addresses of spammers.  This list is turned into 'Rules' such as you (should) have in Outlook Express. These will be transmitted to the BT servers every 5 - 10 minutes.  This then redirects the suspected spam to a designated folder where they are kept for 30 days before deletion.  You can check this folder in case there is a real e-mail for you, but the mail is held on their server and you will have to go on the net to view it. See :  http://bt.yahoo.com/mail .

Outlook Express Rules can prevent Spam

You can, of course, devise your own Rules with Outlook and Outlook Express (and AOL)  The Help in Outlook Express says : To create a rule for e-mail messages On the Tools menu, point to Message Rules, and then click Mail. If this is the first rule you are creating, proceed to step 3. Otherwise, on the Mail Rules tab, click New and proceed to step 4. Select the conditions for your rule by selecting the desired check boxes in the Conditions section. (You must select at least one condition.) You can specify multiple conditions for a single rule by selecting more than one check box. Click the and hyperlink in the Rule Description section to specify whether all of the rule conditions must be met before the specified action occurs (and), or whether at least one must be met (or). Specify the actions for your rule by selecting the desired check boxes in the Actions section. (You must select at least one condition.) Click the underlined hyperlinks in the Rule Description section to specify the conditions or actions for your rule. You can click contains people or contains specific words in the Rule Description section to specify the people or words you'd like Outlook Express to look for in messages. If you enter multiple people or multiple words per condition, use the Options button in the Select People or Type Specific Words dialog boxes to further customize the condition. In the Name of the rule text box, select the default name or type a new name for your rule, and then click OK.  

There are other types of Spam of course.  Telephone spam, Fax spam and Mail spam.  Spam, spam, spam ! You may be interested to know that since 1st May 1999 it has been ILLEGAL to spam by fax or telephone if the consumer (you) has told them your don't want it or have included your name on a Direct Marketing list to opt out. Unfortunately, ordinary mail spam is still legal.  To register with the DMA (Direct marketing Association) contact 0845 070 0707 or on line at  www.tpsonline.org.uk/and register with e-Mail Preference Scheme, TelphonePS, FaxPS and MailPS.  See also http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/mpsr/ They really do help to save you (and the forests!) Thanks, Anthony, for this link. It DOES help and doesn't take long. But see below for any chance of reducing email spam. Another BT link  http://www2.bt.com/static/i/btretail/consumer/btprivacy/index.html allows BT customers to sign up to prevent telephone spam (the Telephone PS) and also gives a free caller display so you can check the number of who is calling.

Hotmail addresses were inundated with spam but at least Microsoft is trying to do something about it.  You can elect to allow them to 'bin' anything that appears to be spam. You can check the bin from time to time and empty it if there is nothing of importance in there. Microsoft is putting a limit of 100 a day for emails sent from Hotmail addresses.  As this is a frequent vehicle for spammers this should cut down this nuisance a little. Yahoo and AOL already have limits.  Hotmail spam is a particular nuisance because, in order to use Microsoft's Messenger you have to have a Hotmail (or MSN) address they call a 'Passport'. What I do is block ALL mail to my Hotmail address.  Microsoft still gets through with messages, which keeps it alive if I check them.

Most ISP's will allow you to block future emails from specific addresses or even from a complete ISP.  So, you could block all emails from Yahoo addresses for instance.  But that is a bit drastic. You may be able to block emails with certain subject lines or content - see above re. Outlook Express Message, Rules.  But spammers can be crafty and constantly change their address or message type.  Certainly there is no point in replying to a spam email to tell them to stop.  You will only confirm to them that they have hit a target and you will get even more.

AOL does not have a 'Rules' facility like Outlook Express but it now has an easy way to report and delete spam in one go. This is then added to their spam filter.  If the spam appears to be from an AOL member it is particularly important to forward it to COSUK with a request to throw the spammer off AOL. One of the Conditions Of Service of AOL is no spam to be sent.

If none of these programs work for you all I can suggest is a change of address.  Once done, one should not give the address out readily. 87% of e-mail addresses are automatically 'harvested' from web pages. A change of address is difficult for Freeserve/Wanadoo/Orange people and I have had to advise some to cancel their account and start again or change to another ISP.

So, I am sorry to say that I have not found any clear cut defence against spam.  All I can say is that some people escape it for a while by being careful with their address.  But once your address is on the spammers list it will be sold all over the world with a million others for a very small fee !  If you do change your address (screen name), once you have told everyone, you can put a complete block on the first address.

SPYWARE/ADWARE This is not usually a Scam OR a SPAM but is more like the latter.  See an explanation at http://www.pcpitstop.com/gator/ of the GATOR/GAIN/CLARIA methods of getting information about you. To clear this rubbish off your PC use a program such as Ad-aware or Spybot.

Of late Spyware has become an increasing problem with computing with one survey showing that 90% of PC's are affected with some having 30 spywareSPAM (unsolicited e-mail advertising ) This section will try to keep you up-to-date what you can do about Spam. I am not referring to pink luncheon meat - to which I am rather partial - but to unsolicited e-mails which advertise everything from Pharmaceuticals to Viagra. See the list of anti spam programs below. The EU is getting serious about Spam and is warning member countries that have not enacted anti - spam laws that they could risk court action. One of the reasons we are blighted by spam and worse is that our email addresses and other information is being gathered by unscrupulous internet users (for monetary gain). Within the last couple of years, information about millions of people has been gathered when they have been subscribers to all of the following popular sites : LINKEDIN, TUMBLER, AVAST, MYSPACE. In computer terminology, if you have given your email address to any of these your details may have been PWNED (or stolen). This is likely to include the password which you uploaded. Some of the sites immediately write to subscribers when they realise this has happened. advising you to change your password. But many do not. And many people use the same password for various sites, even vulnerable one such as on line banking, Paypal, Ebay, Amazon and so on. Passwords are a universal problem and the sooner they can be replaced by a better system, the better. We have the technology..... programs.  Their activity can slow you PC and can even cause it to CRASH !

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