Controlling spam is a constant fight between you and your computer. You need to come up with a plan so that you can counter-act this spam. You'll be at an advantage if you take even small steps to make spam as ineffective as possible.
FIGHT SPAM WITH FIRE
Automation gives spammers a great advantage since they can gather email addresses in big numbers. If email addresses had to be collected manually it would not be worth a spammer's effort.
You too can play this game.
Programs can fight spam for the simple reason that these same programs create spam. There are several programs available to fight spam. Before you use this type of software you might want to know just how spammers do what they do and what you can do to fight them.
Spambots are one tool that spammers use. A spambot is a program which browses through websites searching for legitimate email addresses. These email addresses are then harvested and stored in big databases. These lists are then used by the spammer in marketing schemes or they are sold to someone else. There can be so many email addresses that they take up several CDs.
As of yet there are no ideal tools for fooling spambots. There are, however, a few techniques that are quite effective.
Your email address will not be harvested if you do not expose it. This concept is hard to avoid since there are so many forums, blogs, and other public websites that rely on you providing your email address before you can post.
Use an email address for these public websites that you do not use for your personal email. Once you set up and confirm an email address you will not have to worry about what is sent there if you do not use it. Use a different email address for your personal mail and make sure that you only give it out to those people you trust.
Yahoo, Hotmail, and other big email providers are often used for this reason. Some websites have figured this out and will not let you use email addresses that end in yahoo.com, for instance. Luckily there are many other free providers of email service on the Internet so you can use a different one each time.
Although a Spambot can be quite smart it still is not human. This means that a Spambot will not be able to makeferences or distinctions without being specifically programmed for this. Many times a spambot will pass you by if you disguise your email address. Spambots are often programmed to search for character strings such as firstname.lastname@example.org . A program can only do what it has been told to do. Even a small change in your email address, such as email_address_at_NOSPAMsomeemaildomain.com, will be enough to throw a spambot off.
If the disguised email address that you've created is picked up by a spambot the address will still need to "scrubbed" before it can be used. A program for scrubbing is hard to write since there are so many variations that are possible such as no * spam and NO-SPAM. Although the variations are easy for humans to decode a program will have a much harder time and only do what you tell it to do.
There are some drawbacks to this method. You'll need to take out the extra letters in your email address and put in the @ sign. This is something that you may not do because you do not understand the process or because you hit "reply to" before remembering what you need to do. There are also many systems for email confirmation that are automated by software and they can fail to send the address that you want.
There is one variation on the above technique that both a user and designers of websites can use. You can configure the account for your email so that the person you're sending mail to will view your address as whatever you want them to see regardless of what the real address is. This is, after all, how spammers hide themselves.
It can be undesirable for you to change your email address after you've created it and sent it out to those people you trust. This means that you sometimes need to make efforts that are high cost to disguise your email address which is something you want the spammer to feel instead of you.
This is where junk mail and spam filters come in.
A filter will look at every email before it is delivered. At this time the filter will use complicated algorithms to decide which mail is junk and which is not. A filter can be configured so that mail from a sender address that is in your address book will pass through the filter right to your Inbox. Other mail will be sent to what is called a "Junk" folder.
These algorithms are not perfect and sometimes are scrutinized by email services so that they are actually collecting more junk mail than legitimate ones. When you review what is in the junk folder, and indicate what is indeed junk and what is not, you help the algorithm to guess more accurately next time.
ADDING TO THE PRICE
Even the most determined spammer will tire of creating variations in programming in order to pass by all the things that try to stop them. Many times the reward will not be worth the effort. You want to make the price of their efforts higher than their reward. This keeps your own cost down and brings you the most reward.
Although spammers have not yet given up the progress to stop them has been good.