Mobilize Mail > Wolf, sheep and SPAM

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Wolf, sheep and SPAM

A wolf cannot fit into sheeps clothing on its own it has to get help from somewhere. SPAMing is much the same. A lot of companies now offer a semi decent level of SPAM filtration. This helps Joe User sleep better at night knowing he wont wake to find 50 kajillion messages in his inbox. However, the problems start to arise when Joe unwittingly helps the SPAMmers.

How does Joe help the SPAMmers? One of the main methods is through forwarding on messages. You may have read my previous article on a petition that was being circulated. People were asked to forward on the petition to everyone in their address book, which a lot of people did – even to those overseas – this was a bit odd especially as the petition was only relevant to NZ law.

So what’s wrong with that? You may ask. Well, when you forward a message your email address is usually displayed at the top of the message. Everyone you send the message using TO or CC, will most probably have their email address displayed also. Is this a problem? No – because you trust everyone on your list not to SPAM you. They are all in your trusted senders list, so you can only accept mail from them.

The message you have just forwarded gets forwarded again. And again. And again. Who has the message now? Well, say you send it to 10 people. 7 of those send it on to another 10 each. Now 70 people have your email address. 70% of those people send it on to another 10 people. Another 49 people have your email address. The list grows.

The message finally reaches Jack SPAMmer – they look at the list and can literally follow the list of people to see who started it. He can see that Joe sent the message to Mary who sent it onto Peter who sent it onto John who sent it to Jack. Jack now sends a disguised email from John to Peter. From Peter to Mary. From Mary to Joe. The email contains a malicious attachment. Jack didn’t send it onto John because John is dating his sister and he lives in fear of his sister.

So even though Joe, Mary, Peter and John have strict filtering rules to only accept messages from persons in their address book, the fact that email can be disguised as coming from someone else very easily, promotes the importance of not sharing others email addresses. Would you like it if a stranger told everyone your phone number? Or told others where you lived? If you want your privacy, then respect others too.

Incidents like this happen thousands of times a day all over the world – the easiest way of cutting back on the email address sharing is by BCCing your recipients. Send the message to yourself and BCC everyone else on it. You may realise how many messages you actually send by sending it to yourself (this will be discussed in a future article – “chatSPAM”).

Spudmasher (Mobilize Mail Client)

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