Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2003 / 28 Teves 5763


By Mark Kellner | Not to diminish the threat from Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il and other assorted baddies in the axis of evil - but there's another war you and I must worry about in 2003. It's a war we can win, but only if we're ruthless, and only if we work together.

It's the war against spam e-mails. It's a war we must not lose.

They come - and keep coming - offering everything from a supposedly "hot" Christmas toy to products that'll spice up your love life, trim your waste line, or a way to get a Ph.D. from a "prestigious, non-accredited university" without cracking a book. Then there's the pornographic e-mails, of which the less said the better in a family setting.

Short of hitting the delete button - and hitting it and hitting it again - what can you do? Plenty, it turns out. And plenty is, frankly, what we each will have to do to defeat this menace. It threatens our productivity, our privacy and, in my case, oftentimes my sanity. I don't need to waste time with this junk, you probably don't, and it clogs our mail servers and networks to boot.

Some suggestions:

GET FILTERING SOFTWARE. PC users might want to check out the 2003 version of Symantec Corp.'s "Norton Internet Security," which retails for $69.95. The software detects and flags spam messages in their "subject lines." Users then can delete the message or set a rule to handle them by filing future ones, automatically, in a special mail folder. The Norton Spam Alert feature, I'm told, works within Windows-based e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook. Information on the software can be found at

On the Macintosh side, I grabbed a copy of Spamfire Pro, $29 from, the Web site of Matterform Media, which has developed the software. If all you have is one e-mail account, get the "lite" version for $19, but most users will want the "pro" edition, since it can handle multiple e-mail accounts. What makes this software worth the bucks is that while other anti-spam programs will reject a message that contains a single suspicious keyword, Spamfire uses cumulative, fuzzy-logic filtering for much more reliable results.

In early testing, Spamfire snagged all the really bad stuff I'm getting, and, yes, a fair amount of messages that weren't spam were getting flagged. But you can adjust controls to make the e-mail filtering more user-friendly, and I look forward to sitting down at my desk tomorrow - for the first time in I don't know how long - and being able to avoid a lot of the nasty stuff that comes my way.

USE A SCRIPT TO SEND "UCE" TO THE FTC: In other words, take advantage of what your taxes pay for, the Federal Trade Commission's "Unsolicited Commercial E-mail" monitoring service, A little poking around on the Web will lead you to, which offers a reporting script for use with Microsoft Entourage on the Mac. A visit to, will reveal the way to find SpamSource, a similar add-in for Microsoft Outlook that can forward your spam reports to the feds. Both items are free.

MAKE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS INVISIBLE: Stop using it for "public" postings and the like; get a free e-mail address for your Internet list servers and other groups and use that instead. If you're a Webmaster, or if you publish a Web site, check out an article on the ethics of spamming - and spam reporting - at . It offers a good way to help "hide" e-mail addresses on your company or organization's Web page, while still allowing the public to communicate with you.

FINALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANT, DON'T. Don't ever buy ANYTHING from a spam e-mail sent to you. If you don't know the vendor, trash it. Don't ever sign up for an e-mail list, contest, online lottery, or whatever, with an address where you don't want to get spam. Above all, DON'T add to the problem by sending out spam to others. You may or may not turn that $25 "investment" into $75,000, like that teenager supposedly featured on "Oprah" or "Today" or whatever - but by sending spam, you'll upset folks like me. And, buddy, we're gonna fight back!

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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