Monday, February 20, 2006

Nine Commonly Known Spammer Tricks and Steps You Can Take to Fight Back

The following is courtesy of Yahoo:

Some of the most common questions Yahoo receives from are from their users complaining about spam. People feel it is getting worse, and they want to know why. Spammers are employing more advanced tactics and getting more aggressive in their spamming techniques. To understand how to stop spam, you should learn some of the tricks that spammers use to gain access to your Inbox.

  1. Dictionary attacks:
    The spammer takes a "dictionary" of common words and names, combines them, and sends email addressed to all different variations such as johndoe1@example.com, johndoe2@example.com, johndoe3@example.com.

    Spammers typically do this at leading email providers that have a large base of users. Yahoo! Mail's enhanced SpamGuard can identify and prevent many dictionary attacks.

  2. Email spoofing:
    The spammer trick of choice these days, email spoofing, uses a faked email header that makes an email message look like the message came from someone or somewhere other than the spammer. It's fairly easy to make an email appear that it's sent from your own address or a seemingly credible source. Spammers use spoofing to get you to open and respond to their mail. Remember, you should never respond to unsolicited email - instead, report it by clicking the "Spam" button in Yahoo! Mail.

  3. Spoofing Yahoo!
    Many spammers try to spoof or imitate Yahoo! in the hope that you will submit your personal account information. Please be aware that Yahoo! will never ask you to email your personal information such as Yahoo! ID, password, social security number, credit card numbers, etc.

    If you receive an email appearing to be from Yahoo! asking for this type of information, it's spam. Please report this email abuse by clicking the "Spam" button.

  4. Social engineering:
    This ploy tricks users into opening the spam by pretending to know the person or trying to lure the person with a "personal" subject line. Typical subject lines include "Hey how are you?," "Urgent and Confidential," "We need to meet," "I have money for you," or "It snowed again." Avoid this trick by never responding to unsolicited email, reporting it by clicking the "Spam" button, and setting up blocked addresses.

  5. Mining message boards and chat rooms:
    Do not post your email address in public places -- treat it like you would your phone number. If your email address appears on a message board, in a chat room, or any public place, spammers can use automated robots, or "bots," to search the Internet and grab your email address. We recommend using one of your Yahoo! Mail disposable email addresses - available only to our Yahoo! Mail Plus customers - when visiting message boards and chat rooms. With a disposable email address, you can monitor spam coming into that address and delete it if it gets too much spam.

  6. Open proxy, third-party servers:
    Open proxies are third-party servers that allow spammers to send mail while hiding their true identities and Internet locations (IP addresses). Many spammers use these open proxy servers to help maintain anonymity. Yahoo! Mail's patent-pending SpamGuard technology proactively protects you from this technique.

  7. Web beacons:
    An email may contain an image that is invisible to the recipient -- this is sometimes called an "invisible GIF" or "web beacon." Once the email is opened, the spammer is alerted that your address is "live." Yahoo! Mail advises that you don't open email messages if they appear to be spam.

    To report a message as spam without opening it, click the box to the left of the message and then click the "Spam" button. The message will be deleted and reported as spam.

    Additionally, Yahoo! Mail has an Image Blocking feature that prevents HTML graphics from loading until you determine the message is from a trusted sender. To set up Image Blocking, go to Mail Options and click on "Spam Protection."

  8. Inserting random strings of text and characters:
    To try and get through spam-control filters, spammers will insert random strings of text throughout the email to make the spam appear unique from other email. Sometimes they do this with email headers by adding spaces and characters like this: V_I_A_G_R_A. You can help fight this type of spam by not opening or responding to it and by reporting email abuse via the "Spam" button.

  9. Chain Letters:
    Many of us receive chain letters that invite you to forward the message on to your friends. Sometimes it will say you will get five cents for every email or bad luck if you send to less than five people. These are hoaxes created to promote spam. Never forward these emails thinking you will receive money for each recipient of their email.

Preventing More Spam:
In addition to changing the settings on your Yahoo! Mail account, here are some other spam-fighting tips:

  • Protect your email address - treat it like your phone number (or use Yahoo Mail! AddressGuard™ - available only to Yahoo! Mail Plus customers).

  • Use an email service that offers spam-fighting tools, like Yahoo! Mail.

  • Never send your password, credit card numbers, or other personal information in an email. Yahoo! will never ask you to send this type of information.

  • Don't post your email address in public places (e.g., newsgroups, message boards, chat rooms) where spammers mine for email addresses.

  • Use a Yahoo! Mail Disposable Email Address when posting online (available only to Yahoo! Mail Plus customers).
  • Never respond to unsolicited email - this can alert the sender that your email address is valid.

  • Never click on a URL or web site listed in spam - this will also alert the sender that your email address is valid.

  • Never forward spam chain letters.


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Behavior Management Expert and Maximizing Your Potential Mentor™ Etienne A. Gibbs is a life-observing author, engaging talk show host, humorous speaker, and successful trainer who teaches small business owners, managers, and employees how to speak, think, and perform in ways that will help them shine. In the end, they maximize their critical thinking, speaking, and management skills.

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