Internet Email and Scams
Different Internet scams are constantly bombarding us in junk mail messages sent to our PCs. The first defense in stopping such scans is to filter junk email or spam. Spam filters are provided for most email today. Some are good and some are less good --- no email spam filter is all bad. The second defense against scams is to follow some simple rules.
Many email programs and services today remove spam message based upon key words, restricting email accounts and restricting email from specific Internet Service Providers. To see how this works we examine AOL email, Outlook Express email and Thunderbird email filtering.
AOL filters 1. Words or phrases, 2. Sender, and 3. Content. The content filter simple blocks email with clickable links and picture or file downloads. Since I have to receive file downloads, I only block mail containing clickable links. Blocking senders is probably the most effective email filter. If you block an exact sender like firstname.lastname@example.org this is easily circumvented by sending mail as email@example.com or my personal aggravating favorite is to spoof sending so that the sender is someone at your site e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. In this instance the spam spoofs the email return address circumventing flitering. My approach is to block all mail from askcare.com. So I now block mail from hundreds of sites and the nations of France (.fr) and Germany (.de) among others. While this works, it is tedious to setup and maintain. Blocking using words and phrases requires similar setup and maintenance because there are many variations of filtered key words. For example, m o rtga g e (with extra spaces) or m0rtg@ge bypass filtering key word scans.
Outlook Express includes spam filtering. Under the top TOOLS menu item there is a sub menu of MESSAGE RULES with MAIL and BLOCKED SENDERS options. With this you can select from different rules – filtering options and message routing options – to handle all the arriving email. This is similar to the AOL spam filtering options. Good but a pain to setup and maintain.
Thunderbird is a General Public License (GPL) email program replacing Outlook Express. It supports more automatic Bayesian email filtering and blocks mail from well known spam sites. It can be downloaded from http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/. In addition to the Bayesian filtering and site blocking, when you designate emails as spam, thunderbird automatically configures filtering to block similar emails in the future. This is a much easier program to configure and use for email spam filtering.
Simple rules to protect us from Internet scams are:
2. When requested for account information, call on the phone so that you know for certain that you are talking with the legitimate organization.
3. Do not buy anything from a spam email. If they send spam, they are most likely crooks.
4. Never give out USEDID or PASSWORD information when solicited. If solicited, follow rule 2.
5. Never go for free stuff advertised in spam off the Internet. There is always a costly hook someplace.
Filtering spam and following these rules should keep you safe from Internet scams.
Link to Latest Email Hoaxes - Current Internet Scams - Hoax-Slayer
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