Is your inbox telling you that you could use some good anti spam tips? In 2004 Bill Gates said that “Two years from now, spam will be solved”.

I don’t think we’re there yet, but understanding how spammers work will certainly help you towards a more spam-free life. In this article you will discover some techniques that spammers use to build their databases of email addresses along with some strategies that you can use to protect your inbox.

Understanding how spammers work will help you to reduce spam in your inbox.

Do your friends give out your email address to spammers?

This isn’t to say that your friends or relatives actually give out your email address to spammers on purpose, but what can happen is that your friend’s pc gets infected by a virus or some other form of malware.

Some viruses, spyware or worms are designed to search the entire computer for personal data and transmit that data over the internet to the maker of the malware. If the malware finds your email address in your friend’s address book, your email address might end up where you don’t want it. In the hands of a spammer.

Viruses, spyware and other malware often times exploit the vulnerabilities in computer systems, software, browsers, etcetera. That’s why most anti spam tips mention that it’s important to always have the latest updates on your computer in addition to having a good virus scanner and a firewall.

A malware infection on a pc that’s not even yours is one possible explanation of how spammers get to your email address.

Find your e-mail address on the internet

This is another technique used by spammers to build their email address databases.

They use “harvesting bots” – programs that automatically scan the entire internet for email addresses. They work more or less like an internet search engine, but they are only interested in discovering email addresses on web pages. So whenever your email address is published somewhere on a website (your personal web site, a hobby site, your MySpace page, …), chances are that sooner or later it will be found by a harvesting bot.

Usually sooner rather than later.

If for some reason you still want to publish your email address on a web page somehow, it’s a good idea to make it readable by humans and unreadable by bots.

This little code snippet can help you accomplish that:

SCRIPT TYPE=”text/javascript”
document.write(‘yourmailaddress@’ + ‘yourdomain’)

That will rule out many spam harvesting bots, but of course the more sophisticated bots may still be able to discover your email address in this javascript code.

A better alternative would be to create your email in an image file (a .jpeg or .gif) and include that in the web page.

Or you can always use a contact web form to allow visitors to get in touch with you.

Your email address in newsgroups or logons

Hiding your email address in web pages will not help a lot if you have to give your email address in order to participate in internet newsgroups, or to log on to personalized parts in certain web sites.

Besides the fact that it’s not a good idea to publish your email address in internet discussion forums for obvious reasons (see above), your email address can get out in the open if you use it as logon name for forums.

Here we discuss some more anti spam tips to protect your inbox from harm.

You can of course always make up a fake email address, but some discussion forums or web sites send you an email with an activation link that you need to click in order to get access.

There are ways to quickly get an additional email address for free, with the sole purpose of creating the account and confirming the activation link for the discussion forum that you want to participate in. You can for instance create a gmail account in minutes.

Actually this last suggestion sort of discredits the gmail system because, in my humble opinion, gmail is one of the best online email services available.

Gmail has a great phising filter and the spam filter is also very effective. I just thought I’d mention that for a moment, since we’re discussing anti spam tips in this article anyway.

Enable your email program’s junk filter

Whether you are using MS Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail (in Windows Vista), Incredimail, Thunderbird or some other email “client”, you should always look in the help file of your mail program for ways to enable the mail junk or spam filter.

In MS Outlook 2003 for instance, you can look in the main menu under “actions” and select “junk filter” to make Outlook help you reduce spam in your inbox.

Anti Spam Tips

Do you have some anti spam tips for emails that aren’t addressed to me?

Maybe you know the phenomenon: you are puzzled because sometimes you receive emails that don’t seem to be addressed to you.

This happens when spammers put your email address in the “bcc” field of their email application. You are probably familiar with the cc field in your email program. If I send you an email and I put your friend Joe’s email address in the cc field, you and Joe will both get the email and you will both be able to verify that the message was sent to both of you.

However, if I put your email address in the “to” field and Joe’s email address in the bcc field, you will receive the message from me but you will never know that Joe also received a copy.

And Joe will be puzzled because he’ll have a message in his inbox that doesn’t list him as a recipient.

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