Everyone needs an anti-spam strategy. Here are some measures you can take to minimise the disruption to yourself or your business.

Measure 1
Prevention is better than cure. Reduce the opportunities for spammers to obtain your e-mail address in the first place. This means not showing it or giving it out where you don't need to, for example:
  • When you post something to a bulletin board or chat board, etc
  • If, when you register somewhere, your data will be publicly accessible
  • You are asked if your details can be passed to "carefully selected" third parties
  • You need a contact e-mail address on your web site (see Measure 3 below)
Measure 2
Create multiple e-mail addresses. You should certainly create one e-mail address for strictly personal and private use, for close friends and family for example. Never give that address to anyone else; never post it on any list; never publish it anywhere.

Create an 'expendable' private e-mail address. Add a number or letter to your name, so it might be john66 for example. When you start to receive more spam than you can put up with, simply abandon it and use john67 instead. You could also use a letter, such as johnasmith johnbsmith and johncsmith etc. Use your 'expendable' address when you need to register with a web site or post to a bulletin board or chat board. Also use your 'expendable' address to give out to causual contacts.

Obviously, tell all your contacts when you switch to a new 'expendable' email address!

Create an 'expendable' business e-mail address along the same lines as above. When switching to a new address, keep checking the old one for maybe two or three months to be sure no-one is still using it, then simply ignore it. You can set up "filters" on most e-mail programs to send e-mail for selected addresses straight into the "junk" folder.

Measure 3
Encrypt your e-mail address. Spammers send out "spiders" to trawl the Internet looking at web sites for anything that looks like an e-mail address. Once they've found yours, you're on the slippery slope to endless spam. To prevent that, you can encrypt your e-mail addresses when you put them on a web site. There are a number of small programs you can download for free or nearly free. What they do is turn each plain text letter into a code number representing that letter. It looks exactly that same on screen, and works exactly the same if someone 'clicks' on it to send you an e-mail, but it defeats the spammers' spiders which cannot read the code. Try: Natata Anti-Spam Encoder

Measure 4
Filter out spam. There are two methods to achieve this. One is to use what are called Bayesian filters. These are quite clever scripts that 'learn' to identify spam by 'recognising' words that typically appear in spam and words that appear in typical genuine e-mails. They automatically scan your incoming e-mail and sort it into "spam" and "not spam" (or more categories if you wish). You 'train' the script by correcting any e-mails that are placed in the wrong category. Very quickly and very easily they can achieve accuracy in the ninety-ninth percent.

The drawback, and there are always drawbacks, is that even at almost 100% accuracy, you are still going to lose a genuine e-mail into the junk folder now and again. If you want to try this method, a number of e-mail programs now have Bayseian filering built-in. The paid version of Eudora is a good example while POPFile is a pretty good stand-alone program.

The other approach is the challenge-response method. You can sign-up for this service on a number of web sites. Your e-mail is then routed through the service and if the sender isn't on your "white list", the sender is sent a challenge which they have to reply to. Spam is invariably sent out automatically, so even if the reply-to address was legitimate there won't be anybody there to respond to the challenge and you never get to see that spam. If the sender is genuine, they respond to the challenge and the e-mail is then cleared to be passed to you. They are also added to your "white list" so they don't get challenged again.

The minor drawback is the inconvenience you might be putting a prospective client or customer to. It largely depends on how informed you think they are as to whether you might be getting a new relationship off to a hesitant start.

DISCLAIMER: No responsibility will be accepted for any consequences arising from downloading and installing programs listed in these pages. We have no control over these programs which are supplied by third parties and brought to your attention in good faith. It is your responsibility to ensure you follow the instructions they provide carefully and properly. If you are not fully confident in what you are doing we suggest you seek qualified assistance and do not proceed.