Daily Archives: 7 April 2007

How to detect & lessen spammers

We can check if an email is a spam by email address, header, title and content.

The Email address listed in the email/spam is suspicious

  • Sender & receiver
  • no sender or/and title/[none]
  • from yourself to yourself like the screenshot below!
    Email/Spam - Self to self
    Email/Spam – Self to self.To check if it’s really you sending emails to yourself, check the Header info. In Yahoo! Mail, click Full Header at the bottom of the email.
    Email/Spam - Full headerYou’ll see the orginal sender:
    Email/Spam - Return path
    This bugger is using an email account from Yahoo! UK (the person may not necessarily be from UK) to send spam to my email account.
  • your friends/contacts in your list could send spam to you too if they had been hit by virus or malware unknowingly. Some malicious programs grab all the contacts in your address book and forward emails to them and we always trust our contacts, don’t we?
  • different spelling of a company or contacts in your list – eg. canon@can0n.com, canon@gmail.com. No self respecting company would spell their email addresses wrong or use free web portal for email addresses

Title/Header is all about:

  • Let me help you
  • I need your help
  • I choose you because you are special…
  • The government of…
  • Get the sex you want!
  • Get rich, quick!
  • As requsted (spelling or grammar error)
  • Re: The info you wanted (note it’s deceiving as a Re – as in reply – so that you’ll think that you had emailed the sender earlier)
  • *!(*&#~~% (junk characters/foul language)
  • Buy insurance/drug online

Possible solution:

  • Create different email accounts for specific categories – family, friends, career, hobbies, newsletters
  • Don’t open suspicious emails (refer above)
  • If you dare to open them, make sure you scan the attachments before downloading and viewing them. Most email services provide free Anti-Virus scanning before downloading the file.
  • Know which type of files are more likely to be virus – *.exe (executable files), some images have embedded virus and spyware/adware (*.jpg, *.jpeg, *.gif, *.png, etc), *.pif
  • Don’t click pop-ups – although technically you don’t enter your email into the site, it could have a spyware and check your cookies in your Temporary Internet Files folder. If you enable cookies, your email address could be listed in 1 of those *.txt files.
  • Even if you get a free newsletter which you didn’t subscribe to, don’t reply or click on Unsubscribe to unsubscribe – that’s when they know your account is valid! :D

    To unsubscribe from future newsletter and promotional mailings, simply click on the following link: http://www.somecompany.com/index.php?main_page=unsubscribe&addr=youremail@hotmail.com
    Copyright (c) 2006-2007 SomeCompany.com.
    This email address was given to us by you or by one of our customers. If you feel that you have received this email in error, please send an email to sales@somecompany.com

    However, some companies would really honour your unsubscription. I once replied a spam in TMNET email with “Please stop spamming me or I would report this to the authorities.” I never got another email from them :) The authorities that you can report to is the email service provider, in my case – I would forward the email to TMNET to report spam from that company.

  • Check the company’s privacy policy – would it ‘sell’ your email to other parties? In Hotmail and Yahoo, this is under Marketing policy.
  • Don’t list your email address plainly like “Email me at myemail@hothot.com” in website and blogs. Firstly, it has the code mailto and an email address:
    a href=”mailto:myemail@hothot.com” myemail@hothot.com
  • Spam programs detect such words and then grab the email address to store into the database. Of course, putting the code like this is convenient for your visitors to just click on the link and email to you in a popup (usually Outlook or whatever email settings you had saved).
  • You can use javascript in your webpage or pure programming code like PHP, JSP in the backend (if you can access the server) to hide your email. NetMechanic – Hide From Email Spiders has an example for each.
  • Once you get a spam in your Inbox, mark it as Spam so that your email client knows what to do with the same email address in the future – these emails will go straight to the Junk Mail. :)
  • List your email with other characters like inserting a symbol like [ ( * eg. youremail[@]supa[.]com, youremail*@*supa*.*com, youremail at supa dot com with a note ‘please remove [ ( *’ to let your visitors know.
  • Use image with your email address if you have to publish it in website and blogs like mine.

I don’t think we can eliminate spam for now. Unless we don’t use email or blog :p

Btw, myemail@hothot.com and memyselfandihoho@yahoo.com are NOT my emails…

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