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Getting Serious in the War on Spam

Stamping it out, once and for all

Yesterday I had a minor nervous breakdown. Not the kind that brings the men in white coats running over the fields but the kind that had me thumping my desk in rage. The cause? Spam.

It started when I found out that an article I had sent to a magazine client had been caught up in their spam filtering system. My editor thought I had missed my deadline by a week.

Then I realised it was going to take four hours to download 7246 emails that had arrived overnight. Running each email through through Microsoft Outlook's spam filter and Cloudmark SafetyBar was only taking a few seconds but the sheer volume of messages was overwhelming. It was like someone had poured treacle into my computer.

When the email did finally come in, I read an article warning that spam threatened the internet as a whole. Apparently, the bad guys' latest tactics are overwhelming the Domain Name System infrastructure that converts human readable internet addresses (like Microsoft.com) into the addresses used by the network itself.

So is the internet doomed to be destroyed by spam? Perhaps not...

I'm going to deal with spam once and for all. This time it's personal. There's no silver bullet for the spam problem but there is a silver lining. Here's my plan:

I'm upgrading my server hardware. I've been using a five year old desktop as a server but in a week or so, a shiny new server will arrive

I've also upgraded from a 512kbp/s broadband connection to a 1mb/s connection. This should make downloading email faster

I'm changing from a home user email account to one that feeds directly into Microsoft Windows 2003 Small Business Server. This will allow it to reject any email that isn't sent to a legitimate user on my network, cutting out lots of duplicate messages

I'll install Microsoft's free Intelligent Message Filter on the server. It should filter any surviving spam before it reaches my inbox. This should block 50-80% of the remaining spam so that I'll be downloading a few hundred spam emails a day to my destop computer

As a bonus, my new setup will let me pick up email and update my diary when I'm out and about using my Wi-Fi equipped Pocket PC and my new Orange C500 smartphone.

Although I'm just a harmless drudge working from home, my setup here resembles many small businesses. I have a couple of computers, a wireless network, a server and a broadband internet connection. The overwhelming spam problem I am tackling could be coming your way soon and my solutions may work for you.

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