COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
A Report by Rikki Noble
Monday, 01 January 2007

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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
Spam, or more accurately E-mail spam E-mail spam is the most common form of internet spamming. It involves sending unsolicited commercial messages to many recipients. Unlike legitimate commercial e-mail, spam is generally sent without the explicit permission of the recipients, and frequently contains various tricks to bypass e-mail filtering.
The problem is that so many emails can be sent via automated means that the handling of them ‘at the desktop’ can use up much resource and thus expensive This includes storage, time to check the email are spam, bandwidth and important emails lost amongst spam.
Reducing Spam has been likened to an Arms Race. As a new tool is introduced to reduce Spam at the desktop so a new method is found to bypass this.
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
Understanding why spam is sent?
Spammers obtain e-mail addresses by a number of means: harvestingaddresses from Usenet postings, DNS listings, or Web pages; guessing common names at known domains (known as a dictionary attack); and "e-pending" or searching for e-mail addresses corresponding to specific persons, such as residents in an area. Many spammers utilize programs called web spiders to find e-mail addresses on web pages.
Spamming is economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings. Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet service providers, which add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming is widely reviled, and has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions.
Tactics rise and fall in popularity based on their costs and benefits. If the benefit is significant, people are willing to spend more. If the benefit is small, people will only do it if it is cheap. A 30-second prime-time television ad costsabout 1p per adult viewer; a full-page color magazine ad about 0.5p per reader. A highway billboard costs 0.15p per car. Direct mail is the most expensive, at over 32p per third-class letter mailed. Direct mail needs to be far more effective than a highway billboard, per recipient, to justify the cost.
Spam is such a common tactic not because it's particularly effective--the response rates for spam are very low--but because it's ridiculously cheap. Typically, spammers charge less than a hundredth of a cent per recipient. And that number is what spamming houses charge their customers to deliver spam; if you're a clever hacker, you can build your own spam network for much less money.
If it's worth ‚5 for you to successfully influence one person--to buy your product, vote for your guy, whatever--then you only need a 1-in-100,000 success rate. You can market really marginal products with spam.
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
How does Spam work?
Many spam-filtering techniques work by searching for patterns in the headers
or bodies of messages. For instance, a user may decide that all e-mail she
receives with the word "Viagra" in the subject line is spam, and instruct her
mail program to automatically delete all such messages. To defeat such
filters, the spammer may intentionally misspell commonly-filtered words, use
Leetspeak or insert other characters, as in the following examples:V1agra
Via'gra V I A G R A Vaigra \ /iagra Vi@graa
The principle of this method is to leave the word readable to humans (whose pattern-recognition skills make them adept at picking out the true meaning of misspelled words), but not recognizable to a literally-minded computer program. This is effective up to a point. Eventually, filter patterns become generic enough to recognize the word "Viagra" no matter how misspelled --or else they target the obfuscation methods themselves, such as insertion of punctuation into unusual places in a word.
(Note: Using most common variations, it is possible to spell "Viagra" in over 1,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 ways.) Who sends spam?
Many e-mail spammers go to great lengths to conceal the origin of their messages. They might do this by spoofing e-mail addresses (similar to Internet protocol spoofing). The spammer will modify the e-mail message so it looks like it is coming from another e-mail address. However, many spammers make it easy for recipients to identify their messages as spam by placing an ad phrase in the From field. Therefore, if someone is complaining that you are sending Spam, it may not be the case. The Spammer may just have picked your domain name as a host.
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
How to prevent Spam
There are three specific ways to prevent receiving great amounts of Spam or at least if you do receive it to handle it efficiently. These comments although generally correct are written for those who own their own domains – a luxury which will generate much spam.
Firstly, be aware that your email is extremely valuable and don’t publicly advertise it. Your email address should never appear on a website or in the public realm; instead you should use a form for enquiries from the web form in which the email is hidden from view – in addition this means that your enquiries can be correctly validated ensuring you receive quality enquiries. Don’t post your email on forums, public billboards or anywhere that it can be either automatically or manually copied.
Spam senders have small computer programs that trawl the web and look for strings of text which could be an email (name@xxxxx.co.uk)and record them, once captured it is very hard to be lost.
Secondly, you can manage emails efficiently on your PC. If you look at the Spam that you are receiving, much of it will be sent to random addresses @yourdomain.co.uk . For example: jon@yourdomain.co.ukgxqj@yourdomain.co.uksales@yourdomain.co.ukwebmaster@yourdomain.co.uk123kgft@yourdomain.co.ukinvoices@yourdomain.co.uk Combining the services of Communicant with your Outlook browser can clean up a massive proportion of your junk email. Page 7 of 10
COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
To achieve this, on the Communicant server we set up an account called a ‘Catch-All’ account. Any emails sent to your domain – but not to a recognised account name – get put straight into this account.
For example: On your webserver you have three accounts: When an email is sent to ‘sales@yourwebsite.co.uk’ as it is not a recognised account name, it is placed straight into the junk account.
We then recommend that you set up your Outlook account to download these emails and using a message rule, placed all these emails into a specified Junk email folder. This allows you to quickly check the emails before deleting them.
In addition, considering the above plan, you can also see that keeping your email accounts names away from commonly used names is beneficial. Do not use sales@ but maybe sesales@. webenquiries@. This will mean that the more commonly sent spam with presumed account names do not get through.
This is a great easy solution, but it still means that you have to download the emails to enable Outlook to place them in the Junk folder. Realistically on a modern PC this is more annoying than anything else, but if you have to use a dial up connection, for example on a laptop, it can be very frustrating to allow 400 emails to download, knowing that 95% of them are going straight to yourJunk folder! Page 8 of 10
COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
Web Interface
Do bear in mind that if on a dial up connection, you can always use our web interface. The web interface allows you to view emails through a web browser which rather than downloading them all, just shows a window onto the server revealing just the subject and sender. This gives you the option to either open (by downloading) or deleting the email straight from the server.
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COMMUNICANT online solutions resource
The Communicant Solution
Communicant will shortly be adding anti spam software to its server. This software will use advanced heuristics, lists of spammers and its own investigative coding. Our aim will be to stop all Spam before it hits your PCeither then sending them to you flagged as ‘suspect spam’ or even thrown away before you even have to download them. In addition this service will supply an anti virus solution as well.
IMail, our newest investment delivers email and protection from spam and viruses. Email is the foundation for corporate communication. IMail is a proven email solution that 60 million users worldwide rely on every day. With IMail Server 2006, users can send and receive email using any standards-based client, including Microsoft„ Outlook„, Outlook Express and Eudora. Or, users can access email from any browser via IMail Server's customizable Web messaging, available in eight languages.
Unsolicited commercial email, or spam, is a productivity-sapping, resource-draining threat to business sophisticated techniques employed by spammers, organizations need to fightspam with a multi-layered approach that combines a broad range of techniques to turn spam's own objectives, characteristics, and defenses against itself. Ipswitch IMail Server 2006 stops spam and reduces false positives with more than 20 different strategies, such as Bayesian statistical filters, Real-time Blackhole Lists, Black Lists, White Lists and more. In addition, IMail Server 2006 Plus and Secure feature automatically-updated Premium Anti-Spam Filtering that uses human and machine intelligence to identify and block spam in 30 different languages while virtually eliminating false positives.
Ipswitch IMail Server 2006 Secure protects your business and your users from malicious code, Trojan horses, worms and other email borne threats by employing integrated Anti-Virus technology from Symantec„, the leader in Internet security. IMail Server 2006 Secure leverages the power of SymantecScan Engine to safeguard your email with LiveUpdate™ technology that automatically loads new virus.
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Source: http://www.web-dept.co.uk/images/resources/library/comSpam.pdf

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