A Dummies Guide to Living a Spam Free Life (sort of) after the death of Blue Frog.

Posted: July 18, 2006 in Security, Software

 

 

 

 

Updated 19 July 2006

Howdy,

Being that I own a few dozen or so domain names of my own (as a hobby not as an extortionist), I often get asked about spam especially since the death of Blue Frog.

So how bad is it especially since I have been pretty high profile and using the some of the same email addresses for (gulp) over a dozen years.

Unfiltered I get 500 spam emails a day. Filtered I get less than 5 (these 5 usually pretend to be from one of my own email addresses ‘spoofed’ as they say).

So what now?
Easy answer is it has been much worse and I pretty much run a spam free life these days, but it is getting harder to do so.

I essentially suggest a few things that are very simple for anyone to do.

Quick Definitions

  • ‘Server side’ – just means it is done at the ISP (and doesn’t impact anything you do on the PC). It’s usually free…..
  • ‘Client Side’– for this discussion just means it is running on your PC.
  • ‘Black Lists‘ – A list based on all the email address of those that you know are from spammers (this can be from spam you have received or public lists from programs and services that offer list of known spammers and spamming organisations). Sometimes the list form 3rd parties are referred to as RBL or Real-time block lists.
  • ‘White lists’ – A list of everyone you know that you want to get email from.

  • ‘RBL lists’Real-time Block Lists (RBL) are powerful spam blocking lists which maintain an active database of known spammers and domains which use Open Relay Mail Servers, which are often used to send spam. By employing these lists in your filtering, you will block a majority of spam before it reaches your inbox.  Some examples of theses are:  

sbl-xbl.spamhaus.org, blackholes.easynet.nl , blackholes.mail-abuse.org, bl.spamcop.net, cbl.abuseat.org, dialups.mail-abuse.org,  dnsbl.sorbs.net,  flowgoaway.com,  list.dsbl.org,  relays.ordb.org Your ISP’s list will vary.

 

TIP: Due to the daily growth in black lists (public and personal) of known spammers, it is no longer suggested you filter email by black lists only. But increase the quality of your own white lists and include as many RBL lists as possible.

What I do.

1) I run a ‘server side’ anti-virus and anti-spam (for free from my ISP) definitions per above, as well as server side RBL lists and a top tier white list (of the top 50 email addresses I never want to miss emails from).

2) I run automatic ‘client side’ black and white lists that filter my email prior to getting to my email client (Outlook 2003/2007). definitions per above.

This allows me to have Outlook 100% spam free.

Tip: When you have your own domain name (yourcompany.com) you will get more spam than most people that do not have one.

Server Side Anti-Spam Settings

· Often has a setting between 1-10 (or in my ISP’s case 10-20). The higher the number the better the filtering. However, this also means the higher the number the more likely you will miss legitimate emails. This is unless you use what are called black and white lists (per 2&3 below).

Tip: It is best to choose to set spam filtering only at a medium setting (4 or 14 per above) in the beginning with no black/white lists. If you start missing email (hard to tell sometimes) you just change your settings a little bit, if you are still getting lots of spam you adjust the setting the other way. This is because every server side spam filtering service is a bit different and if you set it too high you can miss all your email (hmm not a bad idea perhaps).

As obvious as it sounds most people that have free spam filtering available to them DO NOT USE IT.

Check with your ISP !!

  • Warning: Keep in mind as simple as it sounds black and white lists are just that black and white. You could set-up email to only come from white lists , but you could miss someone you haven’t heard from for a while, or missed etc. You could get email from everyone but blacklists but new ones show up daily so it is a tool but not perfect.

 

Client Side Products

· I use black/white lists (per above) but on my client site filtering (on my PC) via a program called mail washer pro® , It shows legit emails in any color you want green for me and spam in another red in my case (it could just delete everything it thinks is spam but for me it is only 98% accurate).

· It automatically sets up to check email before you open outlook and it lets you see all the email and shows the result of white list and black lists.

· You then change any mistakes it makes (it learns from its mistakes), accept the legit email (if there is any).

· It even bounces the spam back to the spammer, and sends the good mail (ONLY) to outlook (that it then opens Outlook or most other email clients automatically for you).

· This means outlook in my case Outlook stays 110% spam free, but takes me an extra 10 seconds to check email every time. It also lets you view all emails, if you get a good email (IN GREEN) want to read it but not save it, it will show you the email then you can delete it.

· The program is even available for a free trial I think.

In Australia we get charged for the bandwidth you use (including emails). This sort of product (as did Blue Frog), reduces the amount of junk email you have to download before it is filtered.

Caveats: I have looked only at a scenario where I MUST USE OUTLOOK. Other programs may work much better or not for outlook. Also Outlook has its own filtering of spam filtering built in but is far from perfect but is getting better all the time. Also this is not an ad for Mailwasher Pro I just happen to be a fan, if you know if anything better let me know (PLEASE). I do not claim to know it all (or much), this is just something I get asked for so thought I would share it.

As you can tell it is far from rocket science but there are a couple of variables that you could consider per above. Also if this seems like a lot time is needed for this, once it is set up it  only needs the minimum of matinence.

I hope this is useful let me know.

 

 

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Comments
  1. C Urado says:

    I would suggest to keep an eye on EmailXT. Is looks to be a new email standard proposal. It does not rely on third parties, has automatic encryption, and I guess is much easier to setup and has no maintenance, which is a big plus since most of us are not geeks. There is a white paper and a prototype available, but it is very buggy. I guess it’s still just a proof-of-concept instead of a useful application.

    For those interested to have a look: http://www.emailxt.com

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