To All Alentus Hosting Customers:
You have probably seen an increase in the amount of "junk mail" or spam, showing up in your email Inbox. The activities of a small number of people are becoming a bigger problem for the Internet and in the last six months, the problem has gotten measurably worse. According to a recent article in the New York Times, worldwide spam volumes have doubled in 2006, and unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than 9 of every 10 e-mail messages sent over the Internet. Our own email and spam reporting tools are showing the same level of concerning statistics.
The Problem with Spam
At Alentus, we have been actively engaged in fighting spam for years, but the battle has not been easy. Like all ISPs, we have no control over the amount of spam messages sent to our network and occasionally the volume gets so big (millions of spam messages per day) that it taxes the ability of our Spam Firewalls to keep up their job of examining each and every email message for spam and viruses. When this happens, all messages get queued up and the delivery of email messages to your inbox on the mail server gets delayed, sometimes by several hours or more.
What We Are Doing to Combat Spam
Over the past few years we have made significant investments in hardware and software systems to combat spam, including a four-fold increase in the purchase of additional Spam Firewalls in 2006 alone. We are actively and pro-actively working on additional anti-spam measures and will continue our efforts as the spammers find new ways to circumvent current spam prevention techniques.
We understand clearly that you, the paying customer, rely heavily on the email services we provide and you can rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to minimize the amount of spam to your inbox and to keep your email flowing smoothly and reliably. But we also need your help.
What You Can Do to Fight Spam
While our anti-spam/anti-virus technologies are eliminating about 95% of the spam messages before they reach your inbox, there are additional measures you can take to help minimize spam in general.
1. Disable your catch-all email account. If your domain's email services with Alentus have a catch-all account, you should set this account to DELETE all mail messages sent to unknown addresses at your domain. This is quite helpful if you are receiving spam to random names at your domain (a common spammer practice). You can set your catch-all account to DELETE using your Email Administration Console.
2. Enable Outlook 2003 Spam Filters. Microsoft OutlookŪ 2003 has many new features to block junk e-mail (spam). The most notable feature is Microsoft's Junk E-Mail Filter with Microsoft SmartScreen Technology. SmartScreen Technology is based on a machine-learning Bayesian technology that uses a probability-based algorithms to determine whether email is legitimate or spam. Visit SiteDeveloper for a full tutorial and explanation on how to enable full spam filtering for Microsoft Outlook 2003.
3. Ignore Delivery Failures of Messages You Did Not Send. If you wonder why you are getting delivery failures for messages you know you did not send, the cause is likely junk-mail from a spammer. You should delete these messages without opening.
4. Change Old Email Addresses. If you are receiving a lot of spam to a particular account, you could change the POP3 account name and any mail messages sent to the old name will be deleted (when your catch-all account is set to DELETE). This is obviously not good if you have a well known address that you rely on. If you are receiving a lot of junk mail of a common theme, or you wish to block a specific address or domain, you may be able to set filters to automatically send the spam to the trash. This can help a lot, but you do have to maintain the filter list. The advantage is that you can keep the trash around and then scan through it before deleting in case your filters are picking up any legitimate messages.
5. Don't publish your email address. You should avoid publicizing your email address to unknown persons. This means avoid giving out your address over the web unless the organisation you are contacting has good reason to need to send you legitimate email. Even then, you might want to give them a "false front" email account (as described below) before you give them your real email address. This protects you in case the company does not respect your privacy and you start getting spam even though they seemed respectable at first. If you do need to provide an email address to a lot of websites or other people you do not personally know, set up a free account at one of the many free email providers. Use this account as a "false front" when filling out forms on the web, or sending initial letters of inquiry. Short tips:
6. Use a graphic on your site to display corporate email addresses. Spammers have long been using "screen-scrapers" to harvest email addresses from within the HTML code on your website. You can help avoid your corporate email addresses from being harvested by using a graphic image to display an email address, rather than an HTML mail tag. An example of using a graphic can be found on our own About Us page.
7. Don't Respond to Spam Messages. Never respond to a spam message in your inbox. This usually results in more spam. Encourage friends, coworkers, and relatives to NEVER respond to spam and to avoid purchasing anything that is being marketed via spam.
8. Set up Email Filters. Set up filters in your mail client so that only mail from APPROVED email addresses arrive into your Inbox. All other mail goes to a trash folder that can be periodically examined and emptied.