Spam used to just a nuisance. A little bit of junk email here and there. Hit delete and forget it. Now it is turning into a major headache. Some spam contains viruses. A lot is just plain fraud. The fraud ranges from spam proporting to be from your bank asking you to click a fake link to supply your net banking login and password, to the Nigerian scams, to advertising products that have doubtful claims.

A lot of spam is theft. Many spammers scour the internet looking for open relay mail servers. They then send a flood of spam and move on the next victim. A kind of internet mugging.

More and more internet bandwidth is being clogged with spam. We now get more spam than genuine messages. It costs us time to process and delete it. We have set up spam filters but have lost genuine messages in spam traps. Spam is getting so bad that it may even render email useless.

We have a number of strategies to deal with it.

  1. CAPTCHA.  It stands for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart". We've all seen those form with wiggly writing that is near impossible to read.  The idea is to distort the letters & numbers enough so that a computer can't decipher them, but a human can.
  2. Remove email addresses from your website: We took the step of removing our email address form our website. Spammers trawl the world wide web looking for email addresses to add to their databases. Ours won't be harvested by spambots and added to any new spam databases out there.
  3. Don't financially support spammers: We have a policy of not doing business with any spammer. Sending us spam will not pay. We simply will not buy your product.
  4. Invoice: Spam costs us to process and delete. We accordingly charge for our time. We will invoice spammers and what's more we will use a debt collection agency if the invoice is not paid within 14 days.
  5. All spam is deleted. It would be greatly satisfying to bounce it all back to the sender. However that assumes that the return address is genuine. You can bet your bottom dollar that is not. Chances are that your bounced message is filling some poor innocent's mailbox. Not only that, but by bouncing spam, you are adding to the internet noise out there.
  6. Trace the source: We have set up a secret email address (e.g. [email protected]) that is used to collect email. We have also set up a number of email aliases that forward email back to the master address. If we have to give out an email address e.g register for "product xyz" then we set up and email address [email protected]. All mail associated with "product xyz" goes to mailbox [email protected] and is forwarded on to our master email. If we start getting spam sent to [email protected], we cancel the [email protected] address and send a "please explain" to the people associated with "product xyz".