First, let me say that one of the few things in life that I hate with an unbridled, irrational, road-rage-esque passion is unsolicited email. Perhaps it's the parasitic nature of the messages, filled with poorly written attempts at counterfeiting legitimacy or perhaps it's all of the "emergency account update" messages from a bank that I don't even have. Maybe it is the constant peddling of manhood enhancing and super model producing drugs. Maybe it is because I think Dr. Oz is a quack and I am tired of him recommending garcina cambogia to me in hundreds of iterations of the same message. Regardless of the causes one thing is certainly true...
Spammers, I didn't ask for your junk and I certainly don't want it!
Spam is annoying, much like a group of religious conversionists knocking on the door at 6am when I'm trying to sleep, but unlike a rare knock at the door, spam has my iPhone chiming continually with new message notifications. The world of spam never sleeps, it knocks on the door twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.I've tried filtering at the server level using black hole listings, and while this does cut down on spam, it also blocks a lot of the legitimate mail that I DO want to receive. I've also used Spam Assassin and the results have been less than spectacular.
Let's face it, spammers are like the Borg, they adapt quickly and your shields will only be able to keep them at bay for a short time before they remodulate their attack and fill up your mailbox. I want something that will allow legitimate mail to get through and not devour messages from friends, family and potential customers. Can I have my cake and eat it too? I think I can!
This is my method for stopping spam and identifying any jerks that might sell my information. It might seem like a lot of work at first but trust me it will soon become second nature and it will allow you to maintain control over your own mailbox! Unfortunately this type of spam protection is only practical for those who own a domain name and either run their own mail server or have unlimited aliases or forwards from their web host. I'm sharing this method because our clients both have their own domain names and plentiful alias and forward quotas. I think it is the best way for a small business to reduce spam while avoiding the potential for lost business that filters bring into the equation.
The first step is to remove your email address from any publicly accessible source. This includes personal and business websites and most importantly social media. All it takes is for Uncle Joe to download a file infected with spyware that in turn parses his Facebook account for the personal information of anyone on his friends list and BAM you are on the receiving end of a spamwich! Instead of listing email addresses on your websites, use php based contact forms for making first contact with potential clients (yes kind of like Star Trek you need to be sure incoming messages are from an advanced enough species before you reply). Not only will this give you a good idea as to whether the incoming contact is human or spambot it will also give you the comfort of knowing that business related emails will never be incorrectly filtered.
Everyone wants your email address and just about every website requires email confirmation when creating a new account. Sure, they just want to keep in touch, which is great till one of them sells your email address causing a deluge of spam to commence. The worse part is you have no way of knowing who betrayed your trust...
But what if you could find out who allowed the uninvited guests to crash your party?
Finally, use APF to block the ip ranges of countries where spam originates. If you're sure you won't be doing business with China, Russia, Nigeria, etc, it is advisable to block incoming traffic from these and other countries. This will not stop all spam since the use of proxies is common in the spam community but it will certainly reduce the amount of incoming connections your server will receive from spammers and hackers.
- Robert J. Wyman Jr.
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