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davew's picture

Spam Containment

I finally came up with a spam-fighting technique that is pretty simple and requires no additional software. At first I tried to come up with email rules that matched popular spam subjects and addresses such as all “from” fields that contain: money, offer, gamble, sex, and so forth. This proved ineffective because the list gets out-of-hand very quickly and has to be reflected every place I read email. Then I had an epiphany. How many personal emails do I want to read at work anyway?

So at work I have a very simple email rule: if the from address comes from my family or one of a few close friends, download a copy of the message and leave the original on the server. All other mail gets left on the server. At home all email is downloaded from the server. Email from any of my friends, or family, or one of the dozen or so companies that I do business with is left in the inbox. All other email is moved to a spam folder. Periodically I peruse this folder to see if any of it is not really spam and delete the rest – most of it unread and unopened. This nicely limits my exposure to viruses and worms, too.

The advantages of this are: It is quite simple. It works with any email reader that supports email filters (I use Outlook Express), and I never have to deal with spam at work. The downside is there is a chance that my home email will grab an interesting message, and I won’t get an opportunity to see it at work. This is mitigated by having my work email check for messages more often than my home email, but it is still a possibility. It’s not too big a problem, though. I just means I’ll see it a few hours later. This technique would be even better if Microsoft would add a filter rule based on all addresses in my address book, but I’m not holding my breath.

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