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June 15, 2004
Don't Feed The Spammers

Over the past few days, I've had the distinct displeasure of getting buried under a swarm of virus-laden spam. Somehow I ended up on someone's broadcast list and whoever built the list has been infected by an e-mail virus. Fortunately, Hosting Matters has a built-in virus detection program that strips infected attachments before I download the mail, and changes the subject line to alert me. However, the source has been nothing if not persistent, and I have received at least a dozen such e-mails.

However, that's nothing compared to the other members of the list. I have been inundated with reply-alls from the mouthbreathers on the distribution, asking the source to quit sending the e-mails, as if they've never heard of address spoofing before. Once the first round of reply-alls went out asking for people to stop, another round of reply-alls quickly followed telling the first-rounders that they weren't sending the e-mails. Instead of having a manageable six or seven e-mails a day, now I'm getting well over a hundred.

Here, then, are a few guidelines for people to use when dealing with e-mailed viruses:

1. Replying doesn't help. Unless you know the person who sent you the e-mail (IOW, you're likely to have had a personal entry in their address book), they don't know the e-mail is being sent to you and likely they aren't the source. The newer e-mail viruses spoof sender addresses, which means you're not helping to stop the virus, you're making it worse by spreading it around.

2. DON'T REPLY ALL! Why this feature continues to be used at all outside of a business environment amazes me, and even then it mostly wastes space. Like I said above, replying only makes things worse, and reply-alls make them exponentially worse.

3. Learn how to set up a filter to delete the messages automatically. Yes, it feels like giving in. Too bad; get over it. Once you have an idea what the messages say, you can set up a rule or filter (called different things in different programs) to delete the messages without having to do it manually. If nothing else, at least it keeps you from getting annoyed at the long list of bogus messages.

4. Get a real e-mail client. If you're using Outlook or Outlook Express as your mail client, you are part of the problem. I generally love Microsoft products, but their e-mail and browser programs are full of security holes and no one in their right mind should be using them unless absolutely necessary. I use Mozilla for e-mail and most of my browsing. Mozilla also blocks pop-ups, which makes websurfing a more pleasant experience.

If you can't learn these lessons, perhaps you'd be happier keeping your computer turned off. I know most of the rest of us would be.


Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 15, 2004 9:24 AM

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Tracked on June 15, 2004 10:51 AM

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