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Delete Them All and Let God Decide

It came as a surprise, reducing my Spam burden by 70% that is. For me at least, the war is over, almost. Unsolicited email in my inbox has, this summer, overtaken legitimate email and now everything is shunted into my deleted folder until I choose to move it elsewhere.

Actually, this is not intentional but having turned Outlook’s Spam filter on, I can’t turn it off, even with help from Microsoft, who concede that it’s filters might be a little temperamental and so I’m stuck with everything going straight into the trash can as it arrives, which works quite well in a strange sort of way.

Back briefly then to the miracle of cutting down on junk mail. My wife has a BTconnect email address that I set-up for her and which has never been used. Any mail it might receive is forwarded to my inbox but this address is also my single largest source of junk mail. Why is this I wonder? I can see that her address on the distribution list for the multiple Viagra and Prozac offers don’t appear to suggest a dictionary attack on BT .Other names alongside hers, include am*, a* and a* so it’s clearly a distribution list of many thousands of names, starting with the letter ‘A’. Is it a question of a lucky guess or has the BT subscriber list fallen into the hands of a bulk emailer using one of many aliases or ?

Eight years ago, when I was a Director of a large ISP, we received a call from the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit. They told us that all our subscriber account details were sitting on a Usenet hacker forum. It was a nasty surprise, we had been hacked and we didn’t even know about it.

Hacking, in the days before Internet Explorer became popular and Netscape Navigator was the new software superstar, was rather easier than it is today. Security resembled comic opera, because the Internet revolution was in the hands of a small number of technically skilled enthusiasts who led the business community around by their noses.

Today, it should be different, in theory at least. I should be able to create an email address which isn’t an obvious name, like ‘John_Smith’ on any ISP and expect it to be relatively safe unless I’m gullible enough to respond to a message from like the following:

Tired of Spam? We have an answer’. The "Do Not Spam" List from Global Removal, found at: can get your email address removed from hundreds of bulk-email lists’.

This is almost as convincing as this morning’s: “You are attached to ticket number 023-0148-790-459, with serial number 5073-11 drew the lucky numbers 43-11-44-37-10-43, and have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$5,500.000.00 in cash”.

From a business perspective, the answer may be to keep one email address strictly for commercial use and use a second alias for everything else. There’s no guarantee, if you happen to be using an ISP, rather than a corporate messaging server, that your address won’t somehow leak out to the Viagra set but for many of us, it’s too late to change a well-established address without instantly confusing hundreds if not thousands of contacts.

Perhaps the best solution is to follow me and try Outlook’s quirky spam filter, which may immediately and irrevocably declare all your incoming email to be junk. ‘Delete them all and let God decide’ may finally prove to be the practical answer in the fight against spam.


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