SPAM - It's more than just a canned meat product!
SPAM is the commonly used name for unsolicited "junk" email sent to large numbers of people to promote products or services. We all receive it and it can be extremely annoying and sometimes even offensive. SPAM can also have a serious negative impact on the use and security of your computer and the College network.
In order to reduce the amount of SPAM arriving in your Connecticut College email inbox, we have installed a SPAM-filtering gateway that screens all incoming email messages and attempts to identify and drop junk email messages. Unfortunately, this isn't an exact science and some SPAM still gets through. We are evaluating more advanced technology while at the same time government and industry are taking steps to control the problem.
Estimates are that SPAM constitutes half of all email and Connecticut College is no exception. The College's existing anti-spam/anti-virus gateway blocks roughly 2 of every 5 messages from the Internet. Bulk mailings have gone beyond being a distraction and have become a problem. Many colleges and universities are now using various means to control SPAM because of its interference with their educational missions.
Information Services recommends and implements the following:
1. Use the guidelines described in more detail below under Best Practices with Email. An example: DO NOT reply to SPAM messages.
2. Faculty and staff can use the latest versions of Outlook or Entourage, which have built in junk email filters.
3. If there is a particular site that has been managing to send messages despite attempts to block it with a local filter, forward the message to email@example.com. Multiple reports relating to a site will be blocked at the mail gateway.
4. How the existing email gateway works:
- Messages are scanned for virus/trojans. Any messages that test positive are immediately dropped.
- Heuristics are used. Certain phrases and subjects are assigned values and if a message comes up with a high value it is dropped. For example, herbal viagra might be assigned a value of 7 points, anything over 5 would be dropped. All internal Connecticut College will not be subject to any filters.
- Any messages that contain .com,.exe,.pif,.zip are immediately dropped.
- Some blacklisting is used. Currently checks with the sbl-xbl.spamhaus.org list.
Best Practices: Guidelines for email
1. Never respond to SPAM, it only confirms to the spammer that they have discovered an active email account. This includes automatic out-of-office replies.
2. If at all possible, don't post your email address on your website. It is relatively easy for spammers to "harvest" email addresses from Web pages and add them to their mailing lists.
3. Don't give your email address without knowing how it will be used.
4. Use a personal SPAM filter. There are commercial products available; there is also a junk mail filtering feature in Microsoft Outlook 2003.
5. Never buy anything advertised in SPAM. The reason that people spam is because they can make money. They make money, like all advertisers, by convincing people to buy a product. If no one buys the things advertised in spam, companies will quit paying spammers to advertise their products.
7. Don't click the unsubscribe link at the end of the message, if it contains one. While some have reported positive results by doing so, in general, it only gets you off of ONE copy of whatever mailing list at ONE spammer (if they honor your removal request at all). Worse, an unscrupulous spammer will now know that your email mailbox is valid, and may then sell your email address to other spammers as a address, and you´ll start getting even more SPAM scams. You are not the only one with that exclusive unique prize claim number or special pre-approved credit card!
How did the spammers get your email address?
Connecticut College does not provide your email address to non-college entities.
- They pay people some amount of money for each working email address they find and submit
- They buy and consolidate various lists of addresses
- They write robot programs which surf the Internet, looking for and collecting mailto links on peoples Web pages
- They buy addresses from sites which ask you to volunteer your email address. Sign up for free joke-of-the-day and get added to a list. Sign up for free porn and get added to a list.
- They monitor chat rooms
- They try every likely name followed by many common email sites, for example: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. Then they watch for which messages don´t bounce back with an address unknown message, adding those to a list