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Small Business Digest


Spammers Hitting Companies Hard; Some Tactics To Stop Them Suggested

Large corporations are spending millions of dollars protecting their employers from spam messages.  It is a constant battle which many experts say companies are losing. For smaller companies with less sophisticated anti-spam programs, the problem is becoming particularly acute.

While not only a time-consuming burden, spam email messages contain the seeds of financial fraud that is increasingly becoming a burden and threat to small firms.

In a recent survey by this newsletters parent, Information Strategies, Inc., 7% of all respondents said they had been the victims of financial fraud caused by employees providing information to bogus email requests.

The most common is an email request to verify bank account data.  This problem is growing as more and more firms turn to online account management programs provided by the nation's leading financial institutions.  Another 3% said employees had provided personal data inadvertently to spammers. This information in turn is used to defraud the personal accounts of employees.


Recently, Australia-based Marshal's Threat Research and Content Engineering Team reported spam volume is at its highest peak ever.  According to Threat Research, spam increased 280% since just last October. The report went on to note that if the surge continues apace, 90% of all e-mail will be junk.


Unfortunately, it costs very little for spammers to send out millions of email messages.  At the same time, they can reap significant financial benefits from selling their "wares."


Jennifer Bosavage of Information Week offers some tips on how to slow this spam invasion.


Spammers use special programs that extract e-mail addresses from Web sites and Usenet postings. To avoid ending up on a spammer's mailing list when you post to a Web forum or a newsgroup, you can obscure your e-mail address by inserting something obvious into it. So if your e-mail address is, change it to xyz@yah[delete_this] Or, try something like this: "xyz at yahoo dot com."


Don't reply to spam messages, not even to reply to be "removed." Often the instructions are fake, or they're a way to collect more addresses. Replying confirms to the spammers that your e-mail address is active, and you may receive even more junk mail.


Remove your e-mail address from your Web site's pages and offer a Web-based mail form instead. That prevents spammers' robots from harvesting e-mail addresses and putting them on their mailing lists. can provide you with such a script free of charge.


Don't open spam. Many pieces of spam contain HTML code which will open a connection to a Web server operated by the spammers. When you connect, you have verified that you opened the message. That informs the spammers that they have a good e-mail address, which -- you guessed it -- results in them sending you even more spam. Delete spam without opening it. Therefore, don't use your e-mail program's preview pane. Previewing spam is the same as viewing it.

Feel free to print out the list and hang it in your coffee room, hallway, or wherever co-workers get together. The tips can be used at the office and for personal-use computers. The more we can prevent receiving spam, the less incentive the spammers will have to send it. Let's try to prevent that 90% figure from becoming a reality.

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