The fight again spam continues at SharkSpace! Last week we have reviewed SpamAssassin, a wonderful tool that can block the obvious spam and keep your inbox clean. However, preventing spam at the first place itself can cut off a major part of the spam that comes to your email address. You can achieve that by following some “anti-spam” practices which we will review in this blog.
Whenever you receive an email that appears to be sent to a mailing list and you haven’t subscribed to that mailing list before, never follow their “helpful” unsubscribing instructions at the bottom of the email. This is a common technique used by spammers to check whether your email address is active or not. When you respond, what you are really doing is subscribing to their spam list indefinitely! Delete such emails without even bothering to open them.
Related to the previous point, it is a good idea to use an email provider that doesn’t display HTML or images in emails until you specify to display them. Spammers use dynamic images in spam emails to check whether the emails are being opened/viewed by you. When you open a spam email with such a dynamic image, your email address will get tagged as alive in the spammers list and you start getting harvested with more spam in future. Many popular email services like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. have the option of turning off images being displayed by email.
If you come across a website that you do not trust completely, and they require you to sign up for accessing their services using an active email address, you should not use your primary email address. You can use third party services like SpamBox, , Mailinator, etc. which lets you create a temporary disposable email address where you can receive emails and discard them after usage. It is recommended that you maintain two separate email accounts – one for business and important email and other one for subscribing to mailing lists and web forums (called a throw away email address).
If you have a website and have to display your email address, make sure that you do not type them in text format. Create an image with the text of the email address and use it in your web pages. Thus you will be able to prevent email obfuscators from grabbing your email address. When replying in forums/discussion boards, make sure that you type your email address in a non-standard format like: blog (at) domain.com
There are quite a lot of other techniques that can be used to combat spammers. Please do share in your comments if you have any up your sleeves. But for now these are the most important tips that are effective in preventing spam at the first place itself!