Wasting Time Reading Spam:
Get Down To Business Faster
Review of "Spam Blocker" Software)
by Elliott Gurwitz
(unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising) is becoming increasingly
prevalent on the Internet. Our mailboxes are being filled
with unwanted advertisements such as get rich schemes, miracle
medical cures, pornography, stock tips, and free offers.
Spammers, or people that create and send unsolicited bulk
e-mail advertisements, use advanced tools to collect e-mail
addresses of unsuspecting individuals from many sources,
including Web sites, news groups, and search engines. Generally,
the longer you use the same e-mail address, the more spam
you will receive. Our company has used the same e-mail addresses
for over five years, and we are receiving several hundred
useless advertisements a week. It has become increasingly
difficult to sort through spam to locate legitimate messages,
so we are quite happy to find new solutions to resolve this
problem. While you may not receive this large amount of
unsolicited advertisements, at some point in the future
Based upon current trends, statistics show that the number
of spam e-mail messages will eventually surpass the number
of legitimate e-mail. Unless major changes are implemented,
the use of unsolicited bulk e-mail advertising will continue
to grow and may become 60%, 70% or even more of the total
number of e-mail sent. Spam
from CoffeeCup Software, was created to help you avoid some
of the problems that spam creates.
We tested one of the first versions of the program, and
initially had a little trouble getting Spam Blocker to work
with our Internet service provider. We contacted the manufacturer’s
technical support, and they were able to solve the problem.
Spam Blocker is best suited for computers that are always
powered on and have a high speed Internet connection.
Within the first month, Spam Blocker was able to block over
500 messages. Here is a brief overview of how Spam Blocker
works. First, you set your regular e-mail program (e.g.
Outlook, Eudora, Netscape Mail) to check your e-mail every
10 minutes or so. Then, you set Spam Blocker to check your
e-mail more frequently, perhaps every 3-5 minutes. When
Spam Blocker checks your mail, it reads through the text
looking for indications of spam. For instance, it may search
for common language used in Spam, for example "get
rich," "stay young," and "medical breakthrough.”
If an e-mail message matches the criteria for "spam,"
it is removed from your mail server. When you check your
e-mail as usual with your regular mail program, the spam
will already have been deleted from the server and you will
be receiving only e-mail that was approved by Spam Blocker.
No more sorting through spam!
You can easily view any suspicious messages caught by Spam Blocker
to confirm that they are indeed spam. Messages that the
program marks as spam appear on the top part of the screen
and are deleted from the mail server while legitimate messages
appear on the bottom. If Spam Blocker makes a mistake and
marks a legitimate message as spam, you can manually accept
the message so that it will be returned to the server. It
can then be retrieved with your regular mail program. To
assure that messages from the same sender are not mistaken
as spam in the future, you have the ability to set Spam Blocker
to automatically accept all e-mail from the same e-mail
address or domain.
In addition to the common blocking of spam by a single keyword
or phrase, you can easily eliminate spam by e-mail address
or domain name, messages that contain multiple keywords
or phrases, e-mail with non-English characters, e-mail originating
from foreign countries, and more. Rather than simply searching
a message for a single keyword or phrase like "get
rich," this program is much more powerful and allows
you to set several triggers before an e-mail message is
labeled as spam. For instance, if the e-mail contains an
offensive word or phrase, you may want to have the program
instantly mark it as spam, while you may choose to allow
other common advertising words or phrases to appear several
times before concluding that a message is unwanted. The
program becomes more accurate in blocking spam by allowing
you to set the number of times each word or phrase can appear.
Another powerful feature of the software is that you can
create your own rules or alter the default settings that
are provided in order to more accurately stop spam. If too
many advertisements get past Spam Blocker or if the program
blocks many legitimate messages, then you can change the
settings accordingly. Some of the initial default settings
of the program may not be correct for your particular needs,
but they are easily adjusted. For example, when we first
loaded our program, any incoming e-mail with a link that
contained the word "unsubscribe" was automatically
marked as spam. We changed the program settings so that
it would look for additional criteria before concluding
that a message was unwanted. (While many unsolicited e-mail
advertisements include the word "unsubscribe"
in a link, many legitimate messages will, too). To get the
most out of this program, you will need to train it by adjusting
the settings, especially when you first start using it.
The most attractive feature of the software is that you
can monitor multiple e-mail accounts from one computer running
the Spam Blocker program. For instance, if your business
has several e-mail accounts, you can block spam on all of
the accounts with just one Spam Blocker
program. More importantly, you can also easily censor your
family's e-mail. If your children have their own e-mail
accounts, you have probably been concerned about their receiving
pornographic or other inappropriate advertisements. Spam Blocker
allows you to check their mail and block spam before they
ever see it.
We have several additional
spam prevention tools listed in our recommended
products and services.
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