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July 17, 2017

Living with the Scourge

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

The notion of a spam-free email inbox is something I’ve no longer considered within the realm of possibility.

Ages ago, I was up for a fight. I crafted rules and filters to help mitigate the spam. I wrote about various programs you could buy, spam sniffers, and junk email defenses. These methods helped, but never really stemmed the tide of unwanted email.

For a while, the ISPs did a great job of plucking out spam. In fact, I guess that they’re still doing it because the total amount of spam sent worldwide doesn’t equate to the size of my inbox. Yet, I do get flashes and floods of spam email. The missives arrive in a cyclical pattern.

The most recent dump of unwanted email to make it through the filters comes in several varieties.

The first are the obvious spam, probably sent from email mills in Asia. I get a message with my account name (dgookin) as the salutation, followed by a web link. Sometimes a little message is included, “dgookin, check this out” but often not. It seems like these messages would be easy for the ISPs to filter out, but they make it through. Worse: The link most often is a gateway to a nasty virus. Never click a link in a spam message.

The second are spam generated from websites I visit. It’s amazing how you can be tracked on the web and then targeted for advertising. Go shoe shopping and suddenly you find a flood of spam regarding shoes. Search for French Polynesia on the web, and suddenly you get tons of offers for vacations and cruises.

This effect is one reason why I recommend shopping in incognito mode — especially when you shop for travel or airline tickets. That way the tracking cookies are disabled and you don’t see the advertising spam. Still, I forget to enter incognito mode, so the ads come flooding in.

Third are the continual and obnoxious spams for pharmaceuticals. Why anyone in his right might would buy Cialis from someone who has to use foreign language characters to type the name is beyond me. Would you trust someone who writes “çiä1ìS” with medication? Seriously!

Fourth, and most recently, are a batch of spam messages about weight loss. Face it, if you’re happy with your weight you are in the extreme minority. Therefore, people seeking to lose extra tonnage comprise a vast audience eager for the quick cure. These messages are all very similar and the ISPs aren’t wise to the technique yet, but it’s the current rage.

Can the spam be stopped? No. I’ve given up long ago. Now I just deal with it.

Email isn’t the urgent priority it once was — if it ever was. Messages can wait. The inbox can accrete messages like a snowball rolling downhill. I’ll eventually pluck out the legitimate mail. Even the false positives, which happen, can be rescued from the spam mailbox. So spam is here to stay.

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