Everyone has experienced an increase in unsolicited e-mail, also known as SPAM. Estimates are that SPAM constitutes half of all e-mail and Lycoming College is no exception. In a test with very minor filtering, 10,000 incoming messages from the Internet were captured as SPAM out of our daily 20,000+ campus e-mails. Bulk mailings have gone beyond a distraction and have become a problem. Many colleges and universities are now using various means to control SPAM because of its interference with their educational missions.
IT Services recommends and will implement the following:
- Use the guidelines described in more detail below under "Best Practices" with e-mail. An example is not replying to SPAM messages.
- Broad Heuristics. When the main e-mail post office is scanned for viruses, there is a sophisticated program on the central server that identifies special word combinations. For example, "Herbal Viagra" might be assigned 1.7 points and 1 point for "Free Trial." The software comes with a default of 5 points and IT Services will implement with a conservative 6 points filter. This will be monitored to ensure the mail is "junk." All internal Lycoming mail will not be subject to any filters.
Best Practices: Guidelines for e-mail
- Don't click on links in the SPAM message - just delete the message. Most of the links contained in these messages are designed to transmit a serial number back to the spammer so that they'll know that your e-mail mailbox is "live" and being accessed. The spammer then sells your e-mail address as a "premium active" address! You'll start getting even more SPAM!
- Don't click the "unsubscribe" link at the end of the message, if it contains one. While some have reported positive results by doing so, in general, it only gets you off of ONE copy of whatever mailing list at ONE spammer (if they honor your removal request at all), and at worst, an unscrupulous spammer will now know that your e-mail mailbox is "live" and being accessed, and may then sell your e-mail address to other spammers as a "premium active" address, and you'll start getting even more SPAM.
- Don't REPLY to messages from SPAMmers angrily demanding to be removed from their list.
- Avoid providing your e-mail address to "free" services on the Internet.
- Avoid publishing your e-mail address on your web page. There are numerous "robot" programs available on the Internet that automatically travel through all web sites on the Internet and "harvest" e-mail addresses they find web pages!
- Avoid providing or stating your e-mail address in chat rooms. Consider using a separate Yahoo! or Hotmail account for such purposes if you must.
- Don't provide your e-mail address on product warranty cards, etc.
- Seldom is something free and there is probably a catch. It is unlikely that there is free music, movies, medical potions, clothing, porn, etc. Nobody is going to spend money to buy your e-mail address and send you a message in order to give you something at a loss.
- Scams. You are not the only one with that "exclusive" unique prize claim number or special "pre-approved" credit card.
How did they get your e-mail address?
- Lycoming College does not provide your e-mail address to non-College entities.
- They pay people some amount of money for each working e-mail address they find and submit.
- They buy and consolidate various lists of addresses.
- They write "robot" programs which "surf" the Internet, looking for and collecting "mailto" links on peoples' web pages.
- They buy addresses from sites which ask you to volunteer your e-mail address. Sign up for "free joke-of-the-day" - get added to a list. Sign up for "free porn" - get added to a list.
- They monitor chat rooms.
- They simply try every likely name followed by many common e-mail sites, for example: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. Then they watch for which messages don't bounce back with "address unknown" messages, adding those to a list.