Spam Filtering is tough work…

As I have written earlier, I am getting much more serious about getting the spam out. It seems to be a tough challenge on many levels and involves a few steps which make things more complicated than they should be.

Discussing SpamFire on the mailing list has been an interesting. It seems that I am far from alone in my desire to simplify the process a bit.

SpamFire works with your mail program but captures mail within its mailbox instead of tagging things for capture as they come into your mail program. This is OK, but not ideal since it means that you must actually check two places to make sure that all your mail is getting through. In a perfect world, (well my spam free world anyway) SpamFire would run in the background allowing it’s sophisticated filters to run, but flagging mail as it passed through. This would allow your existing mail rules to run, filtering normal messages where you want them but also capturing “tagged as spam” messages to your Junk folder.

If this was the case the time you need to take to work over and tweak certain rules would be much simpler. You would also be able to spend less time reviewing mail and more time corresponding.

End users are not the only ones faced with this challenge either. ISPs and corporations are trying to deal and take the load off users but it is not an easy task by any stretch.

AT&T WorldNet has to defuse a risky spam-filtering technique introduced only a day ago after subscribers discover they are losing legitimate e-mail.

[CNET Entertainment and Media]


I think I finally found the solution for fighting Spam.

While the Junk Mail filter in OS X works quite well, the learning seems to reach a limit, at least with me. Prior to switching to Mail, I had actually purchased SpamFire to use but decided that I did not like having to use two apps in order to catch the buggers. Well for some reason that no longer bothers me and Wednesday SpamFire was updated to version 1.3.2 I decided I would try it again.

It works VERY well in conjunction with Mail, though would also work with Entourage as well as some other less used email apps.

You will want to run the updater once you have this running (Pro/Paid version only) which will download an install many (180+ in my case) rules for stopping spam. I am not sure yet what the period of time is between updates, i would guess weekly or monthly even.

In order to get going you have to set SpamFire up which is really pretty easy. One of the first things you do is import your addresses which immediately get added to the whitelist. You can set up several POP, IMAP or even Hotmail accounts to use which is quite nice. You can set the threshhold level (mine is on max!) and let it rip. You can have SpamFire check manually or on a timer, and after it runs, your email app of choice can then be set to check for new messages. I have mine set to check on a per minute basis and have placed Mail on manual check so that my pop servers do not run into already active sessions. Matterform actually recommends 5 minutes to avoid server collisions. I really have not had a problem with my set-up.

In the main window of SpamFire, you can work with the messages that have been held from your inbox. If you feel something has been held by mistake, it is very simple to add the sender to your friends list and then “Rescue” the mail. When your mail checks on the next run, the saved messages come right through. You can add mailing lists in addition to simple addresses which enhances the functionality quite a bit. Many mailing lists get sent to, or have a reply to set as the name of the list, and you can easily create a filter for them.

SpamFire provides a score for each message captured which is nice, because it allows you to get a better read on how this all works. You can even allow SpamFire to automatically delete messages from known spammers. I have yet to activate this feature, since I am not yet ready to allow for deletion without my review.

If Apple allowed for greater customization or more creative learning with the Junk mail rules, it would not be necessary to use 3rd party software, but until then I think I will be quite satisfied with SpamFire.

Spam Confab: Hackers to Rescue?

Let’s hope they can think of a great solution… some very strong minds will be gathered.

Hackers from around the world will converge on MIT on Friday to swap intelligence and marshal their collective brainpower for the fight against a seemingly indomitable opponent. [Wired News]

If you are a Time Traveler…

I am going to need the following:

1. A modified mind warping Dimensional Warp Generator # 52 4350a series
wrist watch with memory adapter.

2. Reliable carbon based, or silicon based time transducing capacitor.

How’s that for a spam? pretty wacky…

Spam Tracking…

For whatever reason I have been keeping tabs on the spam that just keeps on coming and coming. It’s hard not to notice when the same thing gets sent to you repeatedly and I thought it would prove (at least minimally) interesting to report what’s hot in spam. I’d say that in a given day I receive an average of close to 100 spam emails across the 5 email accounts (not including hotmail, yahoo or aol which are totally out of control!) I keep active. Apple’s catches about 95% of them and sorts them to my Junk folder for me to scan before I delete.

This list is far from complete and thanks to the spam community can and will continue to grow. I’ve excluded the usual suspects of porn, Nigerian scams, multi-level marketing schemes, 10 Million email addresses and penis enlargement solutions.

The hot subject lines of the week seem to be:

  • This Year’s Hottest Gift! – R/C Mini-Racer – JUST $19.99
  • Homer Simpson Talking Bottle Opener
  • Get Your Own Personal LIE Detector!
  • High quality, full-color business or personal cards FREE!
  • You’ve Won – Claim Your Elvis Monopoly Set and More!
  • Flat Hose – As Seen on TV!
  • messages from
  • ADV: Lowest Life Insurance Rates – Free Quote…
  • FAILED DELIVERY (nothing like a fake error message)
  • RE: Your Account Status
  • American Express want to Pay You Up to 5%……

The main sending offenders seem to revolve around the same choice few domains…

  • – my favorite!

There are many, many more.

Since this is such major

Since this is such major net news I posted the entire story from cnet…

Eight arrested in Nigerian e-mail scam

By Matt Loney

Special to CNET

October 3, 2002, 8:59 AM PT

Spanish police have arrested eight people involved in a Nigerian-led e-mail scam believed to have defrauded Internet users of up to $19.8 million (20 million euros).

Five Nigerians, a British man, a Spanish woman, and a minor whose nationality was not disclosed, were arrested in the operation code-named Global Trust. The scam involves sending out mass e-mails that ostensibly come from a prominent man who has tens of millions of dollars but needs help to access it, in return for a share of the proceeds. The group arrested this week claimed to have money stored in safe-deposit boxes in Spain, but told their victims that a debt had been incurred with the company holding the boxes, and that it had to be paid before the money could be released. More than 300 people–most of them from the United States, France, Germany and Spain–paid up before authorities swooped in.

ZDNet UK’s Matt Loney reported from London.

To read the full story, visit ZDNet UK.

Porn Spam: It’s Getting Raunchier.

Porn Spam: It’s Getting Raunchier. Disturbing, explicit and sometimes-illegal pornographic images are popping up more and more, unsolicited, in e-mail boxes everywhere. Observers worry even the sickest perversions may become more mainstream as a result. By Julia Scheeres. [Wired News]

This morning I had 20 pieces of spam waiting for me (in the Junk folder) when I first checked mail… Sure the occasional (prob – 5-6/day) spam messages get by the filter, but the amount of time I spend dealing with Spam has been greatly reduced. I used to use Entourage, but I had to create all kinds of filters – if not in my addressbook, if one of my 5 email addresses is not actually listed…you get the idea.

The other main issue I had was that Mail to the best of my knowledge seems to be “smarter” in managing my filters. Based on the sequential way Entourage handled my 30+ filters, I had to be careful where in my list of rules any news ones were to go. It was very easy to send mail to the wrong place or not send it at all if a rule cancelled another out.

I get a serious amount of spam each day and to know that my mail client is intelligent enough to make the decision to pre-sort for me is just a wonderful thing.

BTW – there were another 3 messages waiting in the Junk folder for my easy deletion when I finished writing this…