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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.
If it seems like there's more spam in recent months than ever before, it's only because there is. More spam is being generated, and more spam is making it past spam filters than ever before.
Why the upswing? Well, I've heard two theories, both of which make sense.
First is an increase in the use of zombie networks or "botnets" to actually send spam. Zombie networks are simply machines owned by average users like you and me, which have been infected with malware that can be secretly instructed to send spam. Since the spam is sent from thousands, if not millions, of different machines spread all over the world, there's no reasonable way block it.
Second is the increased ability of spammers to fool the spam filters. Have you noticed spam that contains a paragraph or two of text that "almost" makes sense, but if you read carefully is total nonsense? Or a subject line that has just random words or phrases? Those are there specifically to fool the spam filters, and it looks like it's working.
So what's to be done?
Or more to the point, what can you do?
Well, step one is don't contribute to the problem: now I know you're tired of hearing me say it, but make sure you're running anti-spyware and anti-virus software that's regularly being updated so that it's not your machine that's sending spam. Or, as I know some listeners are yelling right now: consider Linux or a Mac.
Step two is ... don't contribute to the problem: spam only exists because it works. If you've ever responded to, or worse purchased from, a spammer, you are directly contributing to the rise in spam. If spam wasn't profitable there'd be no incentive to create it.
Step three, of course, is for us all to keep searching for that silver bullet antispam solution that doesn't exist yet.
Unfortunately the rise in spam has also caused many major ISPs to start getting too agressive and it's not at all uncommon for legitimate mail to get discarded as spam. Consumer grade anti-spam products do this as well. So far my combination of a server side spam filter to discard the obvious stuff - much like your ISP might provide, along with Outlook's built in junk mail filter is an "OK" solution - but I still have to be careful to look for false positives in the junk mail, and I still find myself deleting spam that neither tool caught.
To be honest, I'm not sure what the long term future holds, but in the short term the answer is easy: more spam.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10883 in the go to article number box. Leave me a comment, I love hearing from you.
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