How to prevent spam

The purpose of this turorial is to explain how to minimize spam over both the short term and the long term. Some of the suggestions in this tutorial will require you to have a web site, others you can use as long as you have an e-mail account.

This first method of spam prevention can be performed by anyone with an e-mail account. To start, create a free account at SpamCop. SpamCop is a site dedicated to reporting spammers to their hosting companies. In many cases, spammers are in violation of their contract with their service providers and their accounts can - and have been - revoked because of these reports.

Also, SpamCop keeps statistics on messages that are sent to them which can help software such as SpamAssassin, SpamBayes, and others filter messages more accurately in the future.

Another useful tool is Project Honey Pot; this website creates a "honeypot" that you may place on your site to trap spammers. For a detailed description on what a honey pot is, check the Wikipedia article. Basically, by using a honeypot on your site, you are giving spammers e-mail addresses to send to that are hosted by Project Honey Pot. Any messages sent to these addresses are stored and the senders are added to a black list file that e-mail and anti-spam programs can utilize to block mail in the future.

Project Honey Pot supports many scripting languages, so it should be possible to setup a honeypot and every pay-for host and most of the free ones as well. The links to the e-mail addresses are invisible to visitors to your site, so setting up a trap will not degrade the appearance of your site; also, visitors will not be tempted to click on these links since they cannot see them. If by some random fluke someone does get to your honeypot, a message will be displayed stating that the e-mail addresses listed are "fake" and that users should not send mail to them.

Project Honey Pot not only tracks spammers, but also harvestors. Harvestors are "bots" that scour the Internet looking for various links; For instance, Google has a bot that scans the Internet looking for new links to add to its database. However, there are bots that also search the Internet for e-mai addresses to add to the spammer's database, or to add to lists that are then sold to other spammers. Knowing which IP addresses are running harvestors allow system administrators to block traffic from them before that can gather addresses.

Between these two services spam is cataloged and spammers and harvestors are tracked and reported to their hosts. If harvestors are prevented from gathering addresses, spammers are prevented from sending messages, and what spam is sent is blocked, there will be a lot less annoying messages in our inboxes. Also, it never hurts to install an add-on spam filter, or use a corporate filter that sits between the mail server and the users' mailboxes.

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Last edited: 2017-09-18