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Fighting Spam For Dummies [Paperback]

John R. Levine , Margaret Levine Young , Ray Everett-Church
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 30, 2004 0764559656 978-0764559655 1
If you have e-mail, you have spam—that annoying electronic junk mail that jams your inbox, sometimes makes you blush, and takes a lot of the fun out of your online experience. Spam wastes thousands of hours and costs you, the recipient of the stuff you don’t want, thousands of dollars in increased costs that your Internet service provider eventually passes along to you. In fact, a European survey in 2001 revealed that spam costs about $9.4 billion each year!

Spammers spam because they’re not paying for it, you are. The good news is, you can fight back, and Fighting Spam For Dummies tells you how. Find out

  • Where spam comes from
  • How to set up spam filters
  • How folders help filter out spam
  • What additional programs can help
  • Where—and how—to report spam
  • How best to lobby for spam control

You’ll get the plai n-English explanation for activating any additional protection offered by your ISP, and discover how to make the best use of any spam filter that came with your e-mail program. Fighting Spam For Dummies will arm you with information about

  • Making your address harder for spammers to grab
  • Why simply hitting “delete” isn’t enough
  • Tracking down the source of the spam
  • What you can learn from e-mail headers
  • How spam filters work—and why they aren’t foolproof
  • Setting up the maximum level of filtration for your e-mail program and ISP
  • What information your ISP needs when you report spam
  • How—and how not—to complain
  • Adding protection with POPFile
  • Ways to protect your clients if you’re a network administrator

The ultimate solution to spam has yet to be found, but these Internet-savvy authors give you the tools to help level the playing field. They also offer some solid suggestions for anti-spam laws and how you can join the war on spam.

Editorial Reviews Review

Unsolicited commercial email--spam--has become the most frequent complaint among users of the Internet. Its blaring subject lines and gaudy content--repetitive at best and frequently offensive--have made it much harder to make productive use of computers. Fighting Spam for Dummies presents some techniques for keeping your email address off spammers' mailing lists and, when that fails, keeping junk mail out of your primary inbox with filters and other utilities. As a last resort, the book (which, oddly, has three co-authors of its 200 small pages) shows you how to adjust your email program so it doesn't automatically show pictures and is less likely to spread viruses.

There's a fair bit of interesting material in this book, a lot of which has to do with the tricks spammers use to conceal their identities. You'll find detailed instructions on how to convert the header lines of a garbage message--complete with obfuscated URLs and fake IP addresses--into the real origin of the message. Of course, there's not much more to do once you've figured out that the message originated in Taiwan or Russia, but that's not the fault of the authors. Elsewhere in this slender handbook, you'll find click-by-click instructions for erecting filters and making other worthwhile configuration changes in Eudora, Netscape and Mozilla Mail, several versions of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, and several Webmail sites. --David Wall

Topics covered: Where spam comes from and what you can do about it. Instructions for configuring email clients focus on software for Microsoft Windows.


“…an informative, fun and easy-to-read book which does not patronise the reader and will not confuse.” (Virus Bulletin, April 2005)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (January 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764559656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764559655
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,172,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Limited advice, mostly for end users July 1, 2004
A simple book, aimed squarely at the typical email user. Systems administrators wishing for guidance on stopping spam will find little here that they don't already know.
Some of the advice, like blocking messages from an undesirable sender, is of limited use. Only works against a spammer who has not forged the sender line. This has been an enduring problem with spam. Likewise, the book offers advice on analysing the header trail. But again, the spammer can control [forge] much of the header data.
There is good advice on the opt-in and opt-out mechanisms purportedly offered by several sender companies. Mainstream companies will indeed honour your requests. Good. But, as the book explains, a spammer can turn your request against you, since she now knows that your email address is valid and actively read, which increases the value of it to her.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one to pay attention to January 30, 2005
ISPs should buy this book in bulk and mail it out to every new customer. Then they shouldn't turn on the customer's connectivity until they've passed a test on the contents. If they actually did that, users wouldn't make the silly mistakes like responding to remove instructions to verify their addresses for spammers.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about spam, but found myself changing things on my system even before I had completely finished the book.

For someone without the time to read the whole book, I'd suggest reading chapters 2,4,5,12 and the one for your specific email client. If you haven't picked an email client yet, and are among the 95% of the world running a windows desktop, I agree with his recommendation to use Eudora. They have a free sponsored version with reasonable filtering. Get the spamnix plugin, learn procmail if your ISP lets you use it, and you're most of the way home to a spam free mailbox.

And never, ever respond to remove instructions. It proves that you have a valid email address, that you will read a spam to the bottom to find the remove instructions, and are gullible enough to believe anything a spammer tells you. Spammers love people like that, because that's the kind of person that may actually make them a buck someday.
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