Reducing spam e-mail

Some features in Outlook 2002 that can be applied to help reduce spam e-mail.

Dealing with spam e-mail has become a major issue at the corporate level because not only does it cost a company

loss of productivity, but dealing with the flood of unwanted e-mail also costs money. Most companies have installed spam filter software that greatly reduces the number of spam e-mail messages users receive.

However, implementing spam filters requires a lot of tweaking, and they're not foolproof. Sometimes users will still get spam into their mailboxes. This may happen more often than would otherwise be the case if a service provider handles e-mail for your organization. This article looks at some built in features in Outlook 2002 that can be applied to help reduce spam mail. First, here's some advice you can pass on to your users:

  • Do not unsubscribe from a mailing list that you did not ask to join. Most e-mail lists have instructions on how to unsubscribe at the bottom of an e-mail message. The problem is that if you unsubscribe, that very act will verify that your e-mail address is valid. That can mean that is a possibility that the spam will not stop.
  • Disable the message preview pane in Outlook, and do not open any messages that you know are spam. Some messages may contain image links that point to a spam server; if you were to open or even preview the message it will let the "spammer" know that your e-mail address is valid.

Here are some e-mail header characteristics that you can look out for:

  • A large number of spam e-mails do not have the recipient's e-mail's address in the To: or Cc: fields. If you receive messages of this nature simply delete them.
  • Spam e-mails may contain a BCC: header in the messages.
  • Spam messages often contain HTML comment tags within the e-mail body text. This can help them to bypass spam filters.

Now let's look at how we can deal with those spam e-mails you receive:

  • From the Outlook 2002 toolbar click on the Organize icon.
  • If you want to filter Junk messages click on the "Turn On" button to move Junk Messages to the Deleted items folder automatically.
  • If you want to filter Adult Content messages click on the "Turn On" button to automatically move Adult Content messages to the Deleted Items folder.

With these two options enabled you may now have an issue where some legitimate messages you receive are being treated as spam mail. To work around this you will have to create a rule to prevent legitimate mail from being filtered:

  • Go to the Rules Wizard. You will then see the filters you enabled earlier being displayed. Click "Exception list" in the Rules Description box. In here you can add any server or e-mail address that you do not want to filter.

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


This was first published in November 2003

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