This article answers the following questions about spam:

  • What is spam?
  • Why am I getting spam?
  • What can I do about the amount of spam I get now?
  • What can I do to minimize the amount of spam I get in the future?

What is spam?

  • Spam, also known as junk mail, refers to unwanted, unsolicited email. Most spam is commercial advertising or pornography. Not only is spam annoying to see in your inbox, but it also occupies valuable space in your mailbox. Fortunately, many email programs have built-in spam filters that redirect the spam into a special Junk Mail folder before it arrives in your inbox.

Why am I getting spam?

  • Spammers scour the internet in search of valid email addresses where they can send their advertising junk mail. The most common ways spammers obtain email addresses are by harvesting them from websites, newsgroups, and chat rooms. In addition, some websites will send you newsletters and updates after you give them your email address to sign up for their services. Subscribing to any of these websites will increase the likelihood of receiving spam.

What can I do about the amount of spam I get now?

  • Lesley has already taken steps toward reducing spam on the mail servers even before you see it. While this effort has been very effective in stopping obvious spam mail, there will still be a small percentage of spam that finds its way to your inbox.

If you are receiving emails from legitimate websites that you have visited, there is usually a link at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe from their mailing list. For all unrecognized spam, do not reply to the email; doing so will confirm that your email address is a valid one, and you may receive more spam in the future as a result. Instead, activating the junk mail filter in your email program can potentially filter the rest of your unwanted spam into a junk mail folder. Both Outlook and Entourage have effective junk mail filters.


What can I do to minimize the amount of spam I get in the future?

The following are best practices for decreasing spam:

[From http://www.sophos.com]

  • Never make a purchase from an unsolicited email.
    If spamming weren't economically viable, it would be obsolete. Not only can an email user fall prey to a potentially fraudulent sales scheme, but his or her email address can also be added to the numerous email lists that are sold within the spamming community, further compounding the number of junk emails received.
  • If you do not know the sender of an unsolicited email message, delete it.
    While most spam is usually just annoying text, a spam email message could actually contain a virus and/or other exploit that could damage the computers of all who open it.
  • Never respond to any spam messages or click on any links in the message.
    Replying to any spam message, even to "unsubscribe" or be "removed" from the email list only confirms to the spammer that you are a valid recipient and a perfect target for future spamming.
  • Avoid using the preview functionality of your email client software.
    Many spammers use advertising techniques that can track when a message is viewed, even if you don't click on the message or reply. Using the preview functionality essentially opens an email and tells spammers you are a valid recipient, which can result in even more spam.
  • When sending email messages to a large number of recipients, use the blind copy (BCC) field to conceal their email addresses.
    Sending email where all recipient addresses are "exposed" in the "To" field makes it vulnerable to harvesting by a spammer's traps.
  • Think carefully before you provide your email address on websites, newsgroup lists or other online public forum.
    Many spammers utilize "web bots" that automatically surf the internet to harvest email addresses from public information and forums.
  • Never give your primary email address to anyone or any site you don't trust.
    Share it only with your close friends and business colleagues.
  • Have and use one or two secondary email addresses.
    If you need to fill out web registration forms, or surveys at sites from which you don't want to receive further information, consider using secondary addresses to protect primary email accounts from spam abuse. Also, always look for a box that solicits future information/offers, and be sure to select or deselect as appropriate.