Arresting Spam

About a year ago I posted a blog entry on the problem of spam and what measures we have available as individuals to take back our inbox from spammers. At the time I started using a service called SpamCop, and I’ve been fairly happy with it. For the price of about $30 per year, SpamCop.net will filter out suspected spam and leave only legitimate emails in your inbox (however, a few spam emails do get through from time to time). The way is works is that you set up your mail server to automatically forward all emails to your SpamCop email address, then suspected spam is placed in a “Held Mail” folder, which you can inspect to see if it contains any legitimate emails.

The only issue I have with the service is that, by requiring me to review items in the Held Mail folder, I still have to deal with spam on at least a weekly basis, taking up time that could be spent doing other things. So I finally decided to check out another service, called SpamArrest.com, which uses a combination of a white list for pre-approved senders with a challenge-response system for accepting mail from people not already on the white list. What I like about this approach is that it catches 100% of incoming spam, and I don’t have to take time to go through possible spam emails looking for legitimate senders. The exception to that rule is when I sign up for an online newsletter or wish to allow email statements from institutions like banks and travel clubs to reach me. In that case, I will look at the “Unverified Mail” folder to select and approve the automated email. But I don’t even have to do that if I simply check my inbox for these types of emails and add them to my approved senders list.

Here are the steps I took to set up my SpamArrest service:

  1. Signed up for the 30-day free trial at SpamArrest.com.
    > I received a special SpamArrest email address.
  2. Exported my Outlook Contacts to a comma-separated values file and imported it into my SpamArrest authorized senders list.
  3. Went through my inbox to locate automated emails I still wish to receive and added them to my SpamArrest authorized senders list.
  4. Configured my mail server to automatically forward all my mail to my SpamArrest email address.
    > You can configure SpamArrest to poll your mail server every 5 minutes, but I prefer to forward the email instead so that my email client does not retrieve spam if it checks for email before it has been pulled down by SpamArrest.
  5. Added an email account to my Outlook profile to retrieve mail from my SpamArrest email account.
    > Instructions for setting up your email client can be found here. The one modification I would suggest is entering your real email address into the “Email Address” field so that your email address appears as the “From Email” when you reply to an email that has been forwarded to SpamArrest.
    > You can then make the SpamArrest account your default Outlook account to process both your incoming and outgoing email. That way, it simply works in the background and you don’t even have to think about it. This carries the added benefit that SpamArrest will automatically add an email address to your approved senders list when you send an email to someone!

The one criticism I would make is that the online help for SpamArrest does not lay out these steps as clearly and concisely as I have done here. But that’s why I’ve posted this blog entry. J I’m started to feel like the tide is turning in the Spam Wars!

About Tony Sneed

Married with three children.
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