Spammers are a pretty low form of life. About the lowest out there, as a matter of fact. They will employ any means possible to "harvest" or generate lists of email addresses and then proceed to spew millions of messages at those addresses with, I suppose, the hope that there are people in this world who want to buy Viagra or engage in some sort of salacious practices over the Internet.
Of course we could hold out hope that over time, rational human beings will not respond to all this useless drivel, and the spammers will go crawl under their rocks again and leave us alone. But, despite some pretty strong legislation that has been enacted this year, the spammers don't appear to be slowing down. So let's arm ourselves with knowledge and common sense in this battle, and see if we can get the best of them.
Here is how spammers have most likely found a way into your Inbox:
1. They "mine" the email addresses off of websites. This means that they use special software programs that search through websites and pull out the email addresses that are displayed on web pages.
2. They "mine" domain registrations. Since domain registrations are public information, spammers can rather easily build up a database of all the valid domains out there and then start firing off emails at them. They send emails to "bob@", "sue@" or "webmaster@" or many other typical addresses with the the odds being that these emails will arrive in some unsuspecting recipients mailbox.
3. They scavenge on public forums and newsgroups and harvest all the email addresses of those individuals who post messages to these groups.
Is there any sanctity left out there? I think not.
Here are some steps you can take to significantly cut down the spam that you receive. Some of these steps MightyMerchant can help you with at either no charge or at a nominal fee. The fourth step - Spam filtering - is a service that MightyMerchant offers or that you can purchase from a third-party vendor.
1. Remove email addresses from your website
Until recently, MightyMerchant's typical practice was to set up a default mailbox on a website and all email addresses get forwarded to this "maildrop". This is a flexible and easy way for you to set up a range of email addresses for different aspects of your business (sales, info, orders, etc). The problem with this approach is that spammers send emails to all kind of random addresses at a domain and even if they don't know your specific address, the incessant wave of emails will find their way to your mailbox. As convenient as the default maildrop is, we have come to realize that we need to do away with it as it leaves you vulnerable to the brute force approach to sending spam. Please contact us, if you want us to consolidate your email addresses to a few critical ones and eliminate all the rest. MightyMerchant can make this update for you at no cost.
Probably the most important decision you need to make related to spam is deciding what to do about your current main email address. If you have registered your domain with your email address as the contact address or have your personal email address advertised across your site - or on other sites - you can be sure that spammers have it and are hammering away at it relentessly.
When posting to email lists, use a secondary address - so you can protect your main address from public exposure and more easily filter the spam coming to your secondary address.
4. Employ Spam filtering
Even with the first three steps in place, spammers will find you. If you are sufficiently outraged at the onslaught of disgusting and ridulous messages you receive in your Inbox on a daily basis, I would recommend using spam filtering.
Message Filtering programs that you purchase as add-ons to the email software that runs on your computer. Some of these programs do an excellent job. The downside is that you are still getting all the spam onto your computer and that if you check your mail from more than one location, you will not be able to take advantage of the features unless you load the software at the various locations from which you are doing the checking. Some of the popular programs are:
Server-Based Spam Filtering stops spam before it gets to your own computer. This is a great solution for cutting down on the spam before it reaches your computer. When using a server-based program, you'll want to check your filtered messages on a regular basis to ensure that you are not missing important emails.
Here are a few other pointers to consider:
Here at MightyMerchant, we work hard to protect your email inbox from spam. By using the common sense practices described here and guarding your email address like it is one of your prized family jewels, we hope to help you regain your e-sanity once again!
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