The EdZone Spam FAQ
"Help! My Inbox is being overrun with spam!"
Some of the most common questions we receive from our users are about spam. People feel it is getting worse, and they want to know why. Spammers are employing more advanced tactics and getting more aggressive in their spamming techniques. This FAQ page was developed in order to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about spam.
Q. Why am I getting so much spam?
Q. Can't EdZone stop spam?
Q. If you're filtering spam, why can't you get rid of all of it?
Q. But can't you get rid of even more spam than you do?
Q. Do you mean that some of my real messages might not get to me?
Q. But spam seems to have gotten worse recently.
Q. Most of my spam comes from yahoo.ca. Why can't you block all messages from yahoo.ca?
Q. I received spam from firstname.lastname@example.org. Can't you block messages from email@example.com?
Q. Can't you accept messages just from people I want?
Q. A lot of messages are pornographic. Isn't this illegal?
Q. What more can be done?
Q. What can I do to reduce the amount of spam
A. It isn't just you. Everyone on the Internet is getting a lot of spam. Spammers make money when a person responds to spam. Estimates are that only 15 in 1,000,000 people respond to spam. That means that a spammer needs to send a lot of spam to make any real money. In other words, the spammer needs to have a very large list of email addresses.
A. Believe it or not, EdZone does stop the majority of spam from reaching our users by using spam filtering software. On a typical day, we receive about 144,000 messages. Of these, roughly 75,000 are determined to be spam and are deleted before you ever see them.
A. The problem with stopping all spam is that there is no single test that can determine conclusively whether a message is or isn't spam. Our software runs a series of tests on each email it receives. If a message fails enough tests, it's labeled as spam.
Another reason that we can't get rid of all spam is that the spammers constantly find ways through our tests. At first, our software did a pretty good job by scanning for certain spam buzzwords (like Viagra, riches, mortgage), but spammers soon figured out that they could sneak around this test with small tricks (like v1agra, R;iCH!e+s, m;o;r-tg%ge). The spammers eventually find a way around every new spam test.
A. As we tighten our spam tests, we start to filter legitimate messages being labeled as spam. This isn't an acceptable option. We've set the software at the point where very few legitimate messages are being discarded as spam.
A. Yes, that is an unfortunate side-effect to filtering spam. We have set our spam test levels at the point where this should rarely happen. Most of our users may never miss a message.
A. We hear this every so often. This is due to the battle between the spammers and the spam filtering software that runs on email servers. Each time the filtering software comes up with a clever new way to block spam, you see less spam. Sometime later, when the spammers figure out a way around those tests, you see a new surge in spam.
A. Because spammers forge the origin of their email. The email isn't really from yahoo.ca. yahoo.ca (or whichever site they pick) is a perfectly legitimate email server (although you may not be personally familiar with it) and many of our users receive legitimate email from them. We've seen spam that claimed to be sent from aol.com, microsoft.com and even edzone.net!
A. Yes, we can. But, by the time we do, the spammer will have chosen another address to use as the From: address.
A. This is actually one of the technical solutions being considered, but there are quite a few problems with it. First, one of the valuable things about email is the ability to receive messages from people you don't yet know. How about that old high school pal that just found you? Furthermore, this solution (and others) would require every ISP in the world to install new email software. This is akin to suggesting that we renovate every Post Office in the world in order to reduce the threat of junk mail.
A. If a pornographic message is sent to a minor it is most likely illegal and should be reported to the proper authorities. However, tracking the origins of such spam is extremely difficult and often impossible. Recently, security weaknesses in Microsoft Windows has allowed large numbers of PCs to be hijacked by spammers and we find that much of the pornographic spam is originating from these hijacked computers, without the knowledge of their owners.
A. Our engineers are constantly working with engineers throughout the Internet to find, improve, and implement new methods to reduce spam. Unfortunately, there is likely little more that can be done in the technical arena. The next step is legislation. Fortunately, President Bush recently signed the “Can Spam” bill into law. Whether this law will have much impact is hard to say, but at least the challenge of reducing spam has been taken on by the Federal Government.
A. See our page titled Common Spammer tricks and tips to avoid them for more information on how to reduce the amount of spam.