Scroll down for important update of Canada's new anti spam laws
Spam used to be just a simple canned meat product, made from hundreds of innocent little spam animals. Okay, well, maybe that's not what it was made with, but the fact remains that spam means something entirely different to the Internet community at large. While some people like the canned variety, almost everyone abhors the online kind.
Tips to Help You Avoid Spam
Spam is well known for reducing productivity, wasting time, infuriating people, and sometimes spreading virus. Here is a list of 8 tips that will help you avoid spam. Although there is little one can currently do to stop spam altogether, by using these helpful tips I have personally reduced my spam to almost nothing.
1. Use a catch-all addy
such as those offered through Yahoo! or Hotmail for signing up for offers, contests, non-professional newsletters, etc. online. Periodically check this account and clear out all the spam. This will ensure that your e-mail account won't be closed due to inactivity.
2. Be careful what you sign up for online.
3. Remember what you signed up for -
if you sign up for a newsletter in the middle of the month, it may take another month for the newsletter to arrive in your mailbox. Keep confirmation e-mails in a separate folder in your e-mail proggie so that you can double-check that you did indeed sign up for any e-mail you think you may have received in error.
4. When you forward e-mails, be careful.
Continuous forwards can result in anyone being able to harvest several e-mail addresses from just one of these bulky e-mails
If you use Outlook or Outlook Express, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) feature to send mass e-mail. Simply enter all e-mail addresses into the BCC field. Eudora also has the capability to hide the recipient's e-mails. If someone is sending you continuous forwards, ask the sender not to send things like this to you any longer.
5. Don't include your e-mail addy when signing guestbooks or online forums.
Doing so will make your address available to all and sundry as e-mail addresses can easily be harvested from any website. If you want to use an e-mail addy on such things, use your "catch-all" e-mail address.
6. Along those same lines, be aware that posting to e-mail lists
with publicly available archives will result in your e-mail address being shown to anyone who checks the archives or uses a bot to harvest e-mail addies. You can find out where your e-mail address has been posted by typing it into a search engine and searching. I recommend using Google for this, as it seems to currently be the most efficient search engine for this purpose.
7. If you have a website and believe your e-mail addy may be or has been "harvested" from it,
8. Never click on the "Remove" link
found in many spam e-mails. This only enables the company or individual sending the spam to verify that their e-mail reached someone. Many will not remove you from their list as promised but will instead continue to send you spam (since they know they're sending it to a valid address) and may even sell your e-mail addy to other spammers.
If despite your best efforts you still receive spam, you can still do something about it. SpamCop.com offers an easy way to report spammers to their ISPs (or hosting providers) for terms of service violations. (It is a violation of most ISP's and web hosting service's Terms of Service policies for a customer to send spam.) To get the information needed to report spammers, you're going to need what is called the "header." The header of an e-mail contains all manner of specifics about who sent the e-mail and enables any ISP to determine who the culprit is.
To find the header in Outlook, first open the e-mail in a separate window. Now go to "View" and then "Options." At the bottom of the dialog box that opens, you will find a box labeled "Internet headers." Copy everything in this box and paste into the SpamCop.com form.
Using Outlook Express, open the e-mail in a separate window. Click on "File," then "Properties." The dialog box is entitled "Highlights from report." Now click on the tab that says "Details." Beneath the words "Internet headers for this message," you will see a box containing all the header information. Copy everything in this box and paste into the SpamCop.com form.
Visit http://www.abika.com/Reports/Samples/emailheaderguide.htm to find out how to locate the headers in almost every other e-mail program from Pegasus Mail to Eudora to Hotmail.
Sending "hate mail" to the apparent sender of spam e-mail is counter-productive and a waste of your time, not to mention possibly encouraging more spam, some of which may have the potential to be malevolent. In some cases, your "hate mail" won't even go to the person who's really sending it. E-mail addresses can be "spoofed," or, in layman's terms, the e-mail appears to have been sent from a different address than it was truly sent from. This is why you must use header information when reporting spammers. It's the only way to determine who really sent the spam.
To find out what hosting firm is providing service for any given domain name, head to samspade.org/t/. Enter the domain name into the first field on the page and click "Do stuff." A page will appear showing you the IP address that the domain name resolves to. Copy the IP address. Now go back to the first page and paste the IP address into the same field you used before. Click "Do stuff" again. The results will show you who the site is hosted by.
As successful as e-mail advertising campaigns have proven, you do not want to run the risk of being labeled a spammer. As well as the legal implications for sending unsolicited e-mail messages, there are many hosting companies that will suspend or confiscate your domain name and website over spamming complaints.
The federal anti-spamming bill "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing" Act of 2003 was not much help in reducing the amount of junk e-mail that floods the internet, but it did clarify a few specifics over what was allowed. While some states and countries had passed previously strict laws against spam, this federal bill actually loosed the legal restraints. However, even unsolicited e-mail can no longer be legally referred to as spam if it has the following included.
Each e-mail must provide an opt-out link so that a recipient can state he no longer wants to receive mail from you. You must provide a legitimate physical address for yourself or your company in the e-mail. You must make sure there is a valid subject line and header for the router to identify. Finally, if your message is such, you must label the e-mail subject as being "sexually explicit" if the e-mail contains or advertises adult content.
The detractors of CAN SPAM 2003 point out a major loophole in the opt-out clause that only requires an address be left alone for 30 days after which another unsolicited e-mail can be sent. As of February 2007, reports show that over 90 billion spam e-mail messages are sent out each day over the internet and the number keeps growing.
Sending unsolicited e-mails is restricted by the Acceptable Use Policy in the Terms of Service of many Internet Service Providers (ISP). It is with the service providers themselves the danger to the mass e-mailer is most pressing. If you are marketing globally you should know that other countries provide much harsher penalties for unsolicited e-mail. The European Union only allows people to mail to their opt-in list and will attempt to find and fine the originators of unsolicited mails. Australia is perhaps the most strict with fines of up to AUS $110 per e-mail for persons convicted of sending unsolicited e-mails.
What this means to you as an independent internet business person is that you do NOT want your name and company to become familiar because it continues to show up in the "bulk" mail folder. In the United States you are allowed one unsolicited e-mail per address per month and may use this loophole to try and build an opt-in list but it has less than a one quarter of one percent success rate. However, the other ninety nine plus percent may just remember your name and boycott all efforts to convince them to do business with you forever.
Your safest and more reputable way to build a viable contact list is through offering some free information or bonus in your advertising to those who sign up and then acknowledge their desire for your mail through a second confirmation letter. This double opt-in will protect you against not only the law, but possible takeovers of your domain by unscrupulous or uninformed hosting companies. It also keeps you safe from international laws and gives you the reputation of being an honest company.
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The use of computer programs that automatically gather contact information by collecting addresses such as those for emails, published on the Internet.
Software that displays advertisements on your computer. Adware becomes a problem if it:
installs itself on your computer without your consent;
installs itself in applications other than the one it came with;
hijacks your web browser in order to display more ads;
gathers data on your web browsing without your consent and sends it to others;
is designed to be difficult to uninstall.
Adware can slow down your computer and your Internet connection.
A combination of numbers and letters in upper or lower case (e.g., Cand4).
Software used to detect, prevent and remove malware, including viruses, affecting a user's computer or electronic address accounts.
Software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.
Any number of software robots, or "bots", that operate undetected on a network of infected computers (or "zombies").
Any particular transaction, act or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a commercial character, whether or not the person who carries it out does so in the expectation of profit, other than any transaction, act or conduct that is carried out for the purposes of law enforcement, public safety, the protection of Canada, the conduct of international affairs or the defence of Canada.
Commercial Electronic Message (CEM)
Any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit.
A device that, or a group of interconnected or related devices one or more of which,
contains computer programs or other data, and
pursuant to computer programs,
performs logic and control, and
may perform any other function;
A small data file created by a web server and stored on a user's computer. Cookies let websites identify users, keep track of users' preferences and recognize users who are returning to the website. They also let websites make custom pages for users. Some cookies may also keep personal information, such as site passwords and account numbers Web browsers let a user accept or refuse all cookies, third-party cookies or cookies from certain websites.
Signs, signals, symbols or concepts that are being prepared or have been prepared in a form suitable for use in a computer system.
Denial of Service Attack (DoS Attack)
A type of cyber attack aimed at overwhelming or otherwise disrupting the ability of the target system to receive information and interact with any other system. For example, sending either one or a large number of unwanted messages to keep a server or network from working properly.
A technique used by spammers in which randomly generated email addresses are created using known domains, a dictionary of common words, and additional random characters in an attempt to spam actual email addresses.
A technique in which a dictionary of common words is used to test many possibilities for passwords to break into a password-protected system.
A message sent by any means of telecommunication, including a text, sound, voice or image message*.
*Note that provisions in Canada's anti-spam legislation in respect of commercial electronic messages do not apply to voice and fax communication.
The name that identifies an electronic mail account where email can be sent or received. (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Email Service Provider (ESP)
A company that provides email services to other businesses. These services can include collecting and keeping lists of email addresses, sending bulk email to the addresses on the lists, removing addresses that bounce and dealing with complaints and abuse reports caused by emailings.
A hardware and/or software device on a computer that controls the access between a private network and a public network like the Internet. A firewall is designed to provide protection by stopping unauthorized access to the computer or network.
HTML (Hypertext markup language)
It is a method or language used to format some web pages and email messages.
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A company that provides users with a connection to the Internet. The company may also provide services such as email accounts and the hosting of websites.
A scripting language which allows authors to design interactive web pages.
A general term for malicious software, including viruses, worms and Trojans.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
A variation of Short Message Service (SMS) that is designed to be able to send photos, video and audio clips as well as text over mobile or cellular networks.
A number of computers that are connected to one another.
In data communication, a physical network node may either be a data circuit-terminating equipment (DCE) such as a modem, hub, bridge or switch; or a data terminal equipment (DTE) such as a digital telephone handset, a printer or a host computer, for example a router, a workstation or a server.
The main program that runs on a computer and/or electronic device. An operating system manages all other software, as well as, the input and output to and from attached hardware devices. Major operating systems include Windows, MacOS X, Linux, iOS, Blackberry OS and Android.
Phishing is an attempt to obtain personal information for identity theft or other sensitive information such as credit card numbers or bank account details for fraud. For example, an email message may appear to be from the receiver's bank asking them to visit a website to confirm account details, but instead directs them to a false website where the personal information is collected.
Unsolicited content that opens or "pops up" in a separate box on a web browser.
A network device that is used to establish and control the flow of data between different networks.
Short Message Service (SMS)
A service for sending short written/text messages between devices over mobile or cellular networks.
A phishing message sent via SMS. See "Phishing."
Spam generally refers to the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, bulk messages. Spam messages may contain deceptive content, support illegal activities and may also be used to deliver electronic threats such as spyware and viruses.
A person or organization that sends out spam.
Pretending to be another person or organization to make it appear that an email message originated from somewhere other than its actual source.
Software that collects information about a user without the user's knowledge or consent. Some spyware changes the way a user's computer works, without the user's knowledge or consent.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Encryption
A cryptographic protocol that provides security when communicating over the Internet.
Telecommunications Service Providers (TSPs)
A person who, independently or as part of a group or association, provides telecommunications services.
relates to the telecommunications functions of dialling, routing, addressing or signalling;
either is transmitted to identify, activate or configure an apparatus or device, including a computer program, in order to establish or maintain a communication, or is generated during the creation, transmission or reception of a communication and identifies or purports to identify the type, direction, date, time, duration, size, origin, destination or termination of the communication; and
does not reveal the substance, meaning or purpose of the communication.
Software that secretly performs a second function (usually harmful and illegal) on a computer system while pretending to be a benign application.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A name used to identify a web page or other online resource (e.g., http://www.mydomain.ca/somepage).
To cancel a subscription to or remove from an online mailing list, publication or service.
A type of malware that can infect a computer and spreads by copying itself and using the infected computer to send itself to other computers. Viruses are generally spread by email or website pop-ups.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
Routing of voice conversations over the Internet. This is distinct from a telephone call, which is made from your home or office phone which goes through the Public Switched Telephone Network.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A private communications network usually used within a company, or by several different companies or organisations, to communicate over a wider network. VPN communications are typically encrypted or encoded to protect the traffic from other users on the public network carrying the VPN.
A list of email addresses or IP addresses from which a mail server accepts incoming mail. White lists can be used as one part of an email filtering system.
Refers to a set of wireless communication protocols that can transmit traffic to Wi-Fi enabled devices within a local area. A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a laptop or tablet can connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet.
A computer infected by malware that is remotely controlled by the maker, distributor or controller of the malware. Most spam is currently sent through zombies.