Anti-Spam Email Filters
It seems I fight a never ending battle with email spam. I am diligent to mark unwanted email as spam, and I'm very careful about giving out my email address. I think it's time to create some filters to catch the junk that still gets through. Can you give me some tips on getting started with spam filters?
Using Spam Filters to Protect Your Inbox
By some estimates, over 90 per cent of all email traffic is spam. Anti-spam email filters do their best to keep spam from reaching your inbox, but no spam filter is perfect. You may need to tweak your filters to catch particularly clever spam, or to allow some legitimate email to reach you.
Anti-spam email filters may be client or server based. A server-based spam filter runs on the email server, filtering spam before it is sent out to individual users. One benefit of a server spam filter is that a single spam filter screens email for multiple users, sparing them the overhead of running a spam filter on their desktops. Centralized management by IT pros is another advantage; they can make sure the spam filter is always up to date and configured properly. But server-side spam filters have a downside, too.
Email system administrators may be bombarded by user complaints of "false positives," or messages blocked as spam when they should have been blocked. To reduce false positives, a server-side spam filter's sensitivity can be reduced; but that allows more spam to get through to users.
Large enterprises will want to use a comprehensive commercial product such as Barracuda Networks Spam & Virus Firewall, which scans with inbound and outbound messages for spam, viruses, phishing attempts, and confidential or sensitive information. Server administrators who manage email for websites and small companies may opt for Spam Assassin, a free open-source solution.
Spam Filters for End Users
Client-side spam filters are under users' control. Each user can manage the sensitivity of his or her own spam filter, and even create custom filters to meet specific needs. Client-side spam filters can be run without conflicts with server-side spam filters.
Most desktop email programs such as Outlook, Windows Live Hotmail and Thunderbird have spam filters built into them. Suspected spam is filed in a folder labeled "Spam" or "Junk Mail." The user can review messages in the junk folder and add false positives to a "white list" of email addresses that will never be blocked. Likewise, spam that makes it to the inbox can be marked as spam so that future messages from that email address go to the junk folder.
User-configurable spam filters are provided by Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail. If you read your mail through one of these web-based services, you will find a Spam or Junk folder. You can tag individual messages as spam or "not spam" just as you can with desktop email programs. Also, you can create your own filters to allow or disallow messages based on the sender's email address; the sender's domain name; or combinations of words in the subject line or body of a message. You'll find these options by clicking on "Create a filter" in Google Mail, or under "Options" in Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail.
If your email service provider does not do an adequate job of filtering out spam, you may want to use a third-party anti-spam filter. Here are two that do a good job:
MailWasher Pro is a client-side filter that connects to your email server and displays the messages that await you. You can then decide what to do with each message - download it, delete it, or forward it to another email address. Then, only "good" email will be downloaded to your desktop.
SpamFighter Pro is a client-side spam filter that works with Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird. (There's also a server-side version.) SpamFighter can automatically add your contacts list to its white list of addresses that should never be blocked. Also, if a a spam email gets past SpamFighter, one click by the user will delete it from the desktops of all SpamFighter users. I'm not sure that's a good thing; one person's spam is another's steak.
What's YOUR spam filtering solution? Post a comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 May 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Anti-Spam Email Filters (Posted: 17 May 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved