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Spam Prevention

Spam Prevention
  Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.

 

Spam is unsolicited email. There has been an increase in spam in the last couple of months, including some new techniques used by spammers to bypass spam filters. 

“You have received a Greeting Card from a Friend”. Typically it will be someone who has you in their contact list. If you open it and click on the link, it will send the message to everyone in your contact list, and download software to flood you with unsolicited advertising.
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/20/AR2007072002116.html
These should now be caught by updated antivirus software.

PDF spam/viruses show up as an email with a .PDF attachment, usually with an ambiguous subject like “your statement”. It bypasses spam filters, since there is no suspicious content in the email itself. It is difficult to detect, since the content of the attachment is not checked by most anti-spam software. There is a virus which is being spread by .PDF attachments as well. It also may contain Stock buying promotions.  Some .PDF’s contain images, which cannot be checked by spam filters.  Here are some recent news articles with details:
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/originalContent/0,289142,sid14_gci1264240,00.html
www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2194766/pdf-spam-hits-record-levels
www.net-security.org/secworld.php?id=5373
- .PDF spam decreasing

Here are some things you can do to fight back:
If you are on Outlook 2002 or earlier, upgrade to outlook 2003. It is much better at catching spam.  If you are using Outlook 2003 or 2007, make sure windows critical updates are current – they include updates to the spam filtering in Outlook.

If you are using ATT/SBC DSL, or Comcast, the web management for your email includes a spam filter. You can log in and verify that spam filtering is turned on. Keep in mind that it is caught at their server, so you will not see blocked messages in your mail software’s junk mail folder. You will need to check your web mail for messages that were blocked in error.

If you are using Exchange mail server, or Small Business Server (which includes Exchange) there is an update to the Exchange message filter which catches about 2/3 of these types of spam. This will be installed automatically as part of windows updates on your Exchange server.  Make sure your IT support has set up Exchange to filter spam.

Exchange Defender is a hosted solution, which pre-filters your email before sending it to your mail server.  Pricing is based on number of users, about $4 per user per month.   www.exchangedefender.com

GFI has released an update to MailEssentials – their server based spam filtering software product - that catches .PDF spam.  More info on GFI solution can be found here: www.gfi.com/whitepapers/pdf-and-image-spam.pdf

Deep6 is a standalone spam filtering appliance that is quite effective, but costly ($1,200). It works by identifying the source IP of the email, rather than looking at the content. This cannot be faked. www.deep6tech.com/product-overview.php     https://sales.tyrnstone.com/default.aspx

Cloudmark desktop is one of the better workstation based spam filters. It uses a combination of methods to catch spam.  www.cloudmark.com/desktop.

As always, do not give out your email address – use a separate address when signing up on web sites or newsgroups.  Protect your email address if it shows on your web site by converting it to an image. Don’t respond to spam, it just confirms you have a valid address for the spammers.


Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com

     
 

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