Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Fighting the never ending tide of spam mail can turn into a very frustrating experience if you don't know the real tricks of the trade. After all, there's a whole lot more to it than simply responding to a (usually bogus) From: address with a peevish complaint!
Here's a fairly extensive overview of resources that will aid you in effectively combatting unsolicited email, showing you the possibilities (and, alas, the limits!) of your endeavor.
The Spamhaus Project features a database tracks known Spam Gangs, Spam Support Services and the providers who keep organized spamming alive by knowingly hosting stealth spamming services on their networks. An extensive set of databases allows for tracking of established spam outfits, including statistics, etc.(http://www.spamhaus.org/)
Look up this list of established spambots: <(http://mosa.unity.ncsu.edu/brabec/antispam.html)>
Resources for header reading are listed at the Forum for Responsible and Ethical E-mail (some broken links, though):
Some spambot harrassment programs are listed here: <(http://www.turnstep.com/Spambot/harassment.html)>
Spam.abuse.net calls for spam boycots and offers lots of information an spam prevention legislation, and more.
<(http://spam.abuse.net/)> Read their useful guide titled "How To Complain To The Spammer's Provider" at:
Mail forwarding services
Protect your mail box with disposable email addresses by signing up with Sneakemail: this service forwards everything to your regular box without disclosing your real address. If you find your Sneakemail address is being abused, you can simply delete it. Plus, it will help you track down businesses that flog your address to third party marketers. Neat. <(http://sneakemail.com/)>
Free email forwarding claiming to sport the net's best anti-spam filters can be found at Despammed.com. Basically, it works as a remote spam filter. (That's why they term themselves a "mail filtration service".)
Spamex takes a similar approach, offering disposable email addresses as a measure to counter spam. It doesn't bother with sophisticated spam filters, though - the minute your Spamex address receives spam, simply nuke it and get a new one. You can also fit their log in box link into your web browser's links bar for facilitated access. Their slogan is noteworthy, too: "Because Sending You Email is a Privilege Not a Right!" < (http://www.spamex.com/) >
Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC offers a commercial spam protection forwarding service at:
Webmasters running their own mail server may be interested in The MAPS Relay Spam Stopper, a queryable DNS-based database of spam-relaying mail servers. You can configure your server to utilize their list if you want to refuse mail from these types of servers. <(http://work-rss.mail-abuse.org/rss/)>
The same site offers the Realtime Blackhole List (RBL). This is a system for creating intentional network outages ("blackholes") for the purpose of limiting the transport of known-to-be-unwanted mass e-mail. The RBL is a subscription-only system, working in such a manner that no one is denied connectivity to a non-RBLSM-subscriber.
This spam complaint primer spells it all out as it is and offers a sample complaint covering every important aspect of reporting spam to get spammers' accounts and web sites terminated.
The all-time classic to report spam to is the not-for-profit Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC.
The Network Abuse Clearinghouse is a complaint service that will forward your spam complaints to the culprits flooding your mail box. <(http://www.abuse.net/)>
The MMF Hall of Humiliation takes the approach of ridicule to combat spammers. Lots of parodies and spoofs of obnoxious unsolicited commercial emails, and more. Still, it has a very serious background, informing in detail about fraud indictments and offering rudimentary legal analysis of spam scams. <(http://ga.to/mmf/)>
This site offers monthly case studies of reporting spam and lists successes. You'll see that while it's quite an uphill battle, it can be done. <(http://www.obliquity.com/computer/spambait/)>
Some abuse reporting tools are listed here: <(http://www.abuse.net/tools.html)>
As for anything on the net, there's a fitting mailing list available for people interested in software tools that detect and process unsolicited bulk e-mail: <(http://www.abuse.net/spamtools.html)>
UXN Spam Combat offers a nice one-page form aggregating all the tools you need to solve the spam problem, ranging from NSlookup and Trace Routing to Pings, decoding of obfuscated web URLs, etc. Very useful.
Uni-encoding the email addresses displayed on your web site is still a very efficient method of thwaring email address harvesters or extractor bots: <(http://fantomaster.com/famshield0.html)>
This page offers you tools to "poison" the spambots with by feeding them tons of invalid email addresses. While this admittedly places some strain on bandwidth and system resources, it's also pretty easy to crash a spammer's system this way - ah, sweet revenge! <(http://fantomaster.com/faantispamtip2.html)>
Many spammers are now offering their pathetic wares not via the internet but offline, preferably using toll free numbers. This article outlines a strategy on where and how to hit them hard - in their pockets!
Probably the most effective method of prevention is blocking spammers and their harvester bots from your web site altogether. This tip expounds the strategy to pursue.
The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE) is an international organization promoting anti-spam legislation. < (http://www.cauce.org/) > They also publish "True Tales of Spam" here, where you may see your own story featured some day if you wish tp submit it:
Fighting spam with procmail under Unix is discussed in detail here:
The Mega Zine SpamScript software generates tons of bogus email addresses on the fly to feed (and crash!) spambot systems with. <(http://www.softham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/spam_bots.htm)>
For people who can't run CGI on their systems, here's a remotely hosted version of the spam script:
Tips on how to lure in spambots to special, "poisoned" sections of your site while keeping away innocent visitors can be found here: <(http://www.turnstep.com/Spambot/lure.html)>
Steven Champeon, Save Your Site from Spambots. Techniques to Prevent Address Scraping
Spambot Fighting site: <(http://www.turnstep.com/Spambot/)>
As a comic aside, spam haikus (some more, some less witty) are featured by the chockfull here:
Finally, yours truly's "Spam Sonnet" is offered as an educative example of what spam can inflict on the sensitive artistic mind ... <(http://fantomaster.com/faantispamtip5.html)>
About the Author
Ralph Tegtmeier is the co-founder and principal of fantomaster.com Ltd. He has been a web marketer since 1994 and is editor-in-chief of fantomNews, a free newsletter focusing on search engine optimization, available at: (http://fantomaster.com/fantomnews-sub.html) You can contact him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org