Low Interest LOANS!!! Make MONEY Fast!!! Natural VIAGRA!! Get a College Diploma TODAY! Kristen McQuillin checks her inbox and takes out the trash.

Mention spam in a conversation with any group of Internet users and you'll hear a loud groan; almost everyone dislikes unsolicited ads. Spam wastes time and it wastes money. A February 2001 study by the European Commission reported that junk email costs Internet users ten billion euros a year worldwide.

Spam hit the scene in 1994, when a law firm in Arizona sent an advertisement to 6000 Usenet newsgroups promoting their services in the US green card lottery. The Green Card Lawyers became the bÍte noire of the fledgling Internet by writing a book on sending email advertising.

Regional and local laws around the globe try to minimize junk email, but there are no international regulations, no national laws, and nothing to permanently stop a persistent spammer. However, there are a few ways to decrease the amount of spam you get.

Your email address is vulnerable. Spammers use software to cull addresses all over the Internet: on web pages, in Usenet posts and on mailing lists. When dotcoms fold, one of their most valuable assets is their customer database-they sell your email address to pay off their debts. Spammers love bankrupt dotcoms.

The best way to avoid spam is to hide your identity: be anonymous. Multiple email accounts work effectively. Give one address to family, use one for work and reserve one for all your other online business.

Sneakemail offers disposable email addresses to use for one-time transactions, such as online order confirmations or sending online postcards. Web-based email accounts at Hotmail or Yahoo! are convenient extra accounts.

To remove your email address from the Internet, check online directory services like WhoWhere, Yahoo! People and Bigfoot. Ask to have your records removed, if possible, or update them with one of your anonymous addresses.

Some ISPs run software to block email from known spammers (MAPS RBL publishes a monthly list of offenders). This can help reduce what appears in your inbox, but even server filtering doesn't block everything.

You can use your email program to filter "spam." Set up a new folder/mailbox called spam. You can redirect suspicious messages (i.e. anything with FREE, XXX, or GUARANTEED on the subject line) into this folder and delete them at your leisure. An alternate technique is to create mailboxes for each of your regular correspondents, filter your messages by the sender's address, and let your inbox fill with spam.

If you'd rather not set up your own filters, a search for "spam filter" at ZDnet or Tucows will yield numerous filtering programs.

Spammers work through open relays, which are mail servers with gateways open to all email traffic. Spammers take advantage of these poorly configured systems to route their junk mail to you. By complaining to the server administrators, you can help to close the open relays.

SpamCop is an easy-to-use reporting system. It does all the hard work, sifting through the mail headers to find the culprits and sending notices to them. SpamCop also files with ORBS, an organization working to help mail server administrators shut their open relays.

Don't reply
Spammers want you to reply. Your reply lets them validate your address. It can be tempting, especially when the spammer invites you to remove yourself from his mailing list. Do not do it: the spammer will sell your address as a verified recipient and you'll get more spam than ever before.

Easy does it
Years ago angry young men advised mail bombing spammers - sending so many messages to a spammer's email box that their mail server crashes from the overload. Revenge is sweet, but that sort of revenge causes more harm than good.

By crashing the spammer's email, you're also overloading their email provider's server, which means that innocent users are being harmed because of your actions. Not only that, most spammers don't use their email accounts for anything other than sending spam; they don't check their mail at those addresses.

Coalition Against UCE (CAUCE)  
Yahoo! People  

394: Wire tap
wireless networking
392: You've got mail
390: School's in session
From earning an MBA to making a webpage, online classes are a convenient ...
388: Diaries go hi-tech
Up-to-date diarists have chucked the avocado leatherette versions..
386: Why Upgrade?
Kristen McQuillin explains when to upgrade
384: Gadgets to go
Get the goods on the latest mobile devices
382: Hot software
The season's best new releases
380: Peripheral vision
How to purchase computer toys in Japan
378: In safe hands
How to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI)
376: Kill spam
How to minimize your junk email
372: In for repair
Computer repair options in Tokyo
370: Game for a laugh
Semi-annual Tokyo Game Show
368: Knowledge is power
Empowering women in technology
366: Generation next
Cutting-edge keitai
364: MacWorld
Exploring MacWorld Tokyo 2001
362: Online translation
Simultaneous E-to-J and J-to-E translation... online
360: DIY Star Wars
Recreate your own sci-fi epic at home
358: Network gaming
Play games with friends on your keitai
357: Bad it online
Japan's burgeoning e-commerce market
355: Robotic revelations
Japanese robots leading the way
352/3: Get the point - a new kind of points system
350: Talk is cheap
Internet telephone technology
348: Tsukumo
346: Digital Stadium
Innovative computer-generated art on NHK
344: Tokyo Game Show
The latest releases at this fall's show
342: WonderBorg
The mechanical insect
340: Fun and games
There's a new game console in town...
337: Dream on
Tokyo Dream Technology Fair 2000