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SPAM- The Plague of the internet
Why you get unsolicited emails and how to stop them.

To turn on your MartNet Spam Filter, click on this link:
http://support.martnet.com/content.php?get=178

The Spam F.A.Q.

What is Spam?

"SPAM" refers to unsolicited email that floods your mail box with ads from everything from "Hot stock tips" to "all natural herbal viagra." A company will hire an email mercenary to basically do illegal things to people's servers for the sole purpose of sending out millions of emails to poor unsuspecting mailboxes.

Spam almost never comes from a legitimate email address. If you ever tried to respond to one, you'll know that it will bounce back to you within moments. Spammers forge an email address to send out their ads, and cover their tracks. (it's very illegal)

How'd they get my email address?

Well, there's an infinite number of ways anyone could have gotten your private mailbox address. Here are the top reasons:

1. Web Services: You signed up for a daily news letter or something that has heavy sponsorship through major companies. Most of the time, they have a privacy policy that says that they will never give away your personal information. Unfortunately, it never says anything about giving out your email address. In order to afford to send you a daily newsletter, the company sells your marketing info and email address to spammers. The larger names and newsservices don't usually do this, but be wary when it comes to smaller no-name companies.

2. Forwards: Yes, the annoying chain letters and 'save poor billy by sending this to as many people as you can.' There's no Billy. Bill Gates certainly isn't going to send you $1000 for testing his new email system. Sorry. Instead, these emails, complete with the pages and pages of people that it's been sent to, eventually end up in the hands of spammers, who in turn send you SPAM. This way is harder to prevent, so please tell people never to send you chain letters, "make a wish" letters, or anything of that nature. Besides, we've tried them all, and Shannon Elizabeth still hasn't called ;)

3. Replys: Every once in a while, the SPAM looks legitemate, and even has a line that reads something like "reply to this email to be removed from the list." If you do reply, all you're doing is confirming that the address is in fact real, and that someone checks it. In other words, you're ensuring that you'll get more and more from then on. Best thing to do in a situation is just delete them.

4. Guestbooks and other Web-forums: Yep, those sneaky spammers even have scripts that can go through web pages in a blink of an eye extracting every email address they find. The best thing to do again is to add something at the end like you would with the newsgroups.

5. Domain Name Registration Info: All information about domain name registration is publicly available via the WHOIS database. You use it to see if a domain is available, spammers will farm it for your email address and personal info. If you have a domain registered under your name, you need a vaild email address, so there's not much you can do to fix this problem.

6. Usenet: Everytime you post to a newsgroup with your email address (in the 'from' (ie- username@martnet.com) someone can quickly go through and add your email address to a list that can be sold to spammers. In order to prevent this, we recommend you add something on to the end of the address to prevent your address from working (if someone wants to email you something, they'll figure out how to remove it, but for a script that steals millions of address from Usenet, it's a good technique). Example: username@martnet.com.NO.SPAM <-simple, but it works.

What is Martnet doing to stop Spam?

We hate spam just as much as you do. Not only does it clog our email boxes but it puts extra load on our servers even when we're blocking it. Here's what we do to stop it.

Martnet also uses 2 "Black Hole" lists - information about them is available at http://www.mail-abuse.org/rbl/ and http://www.mail-abuse.org/rss/". Basically, what these services do is keep a database of mail servers that spam comes from. They scan for open-relay networks (big holes in mail servers that allow spam to be sent) and put them on a black list. This list is in turn synched with all of Martnet's mail servers, and does not allow mail to come from those particular servers. It's pretty effective when it comes to blocking servers spam.

P>MartNet also regularly reports any spam we know about to SpamCop. We HIGHLY recommend that you do the same! How effective is this? Almost 30,000 pieces of spam email are blocked per day, per server.

But still some spam gets through, and that's why we've installed Spam Assassin. SpamAssassin is a mail filter used to identify spam. Using its rule base, it uses a wide range of tests on mail headers and body text to identify "spam". For example, if a message is written in ALL CAPS or has words in like "VIAGRA", it will give it a point. If the amount of points adds up to a certain predetermined score, it will flag it as spam. It can then do a number of things with it, throw it out, or store it in a seperate folder. But thats up to you to configure. See the below section for details on that

Unfortunately, it is impossible to block 100% of all spam while allowing legitimate e-mail to also be delivered but, MartNet does everything it can to help stem the tide without restricting the flow of legitimate mail.

What can I do about it?

Well, the first you can do it turn on Spam Assassin for your account. You can do that via the Martnet WebAdmin control panel. Instructions on turning it on and configuing it can be found on this page:

Using Spam Assassin

There are a number of options explained on this page to show you how to fine tune it and how to turn it on or off.

As long as you communicate with people via email, your address is going to get around, even if you don't want it to. Fortunately, Martnet has taken a few steps to try and remedy this situation as best as possible.



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