Email Abuse

Unsolicited email, commonly known as spam, is an increasing problem worldwide. Email spam robs each of us of valuable time, consumes network resources, and uses storage space on our email servers.

 

Guidelines for dealing with email spam

  • It is best not to reply to a spam message for any reason. This simply validates your email address and will result in even more spam messages.
  • When publishing web pages, use the HTML sequence @ in place of the @ symbol in email addresses to fool email harvesters.
  • Copy [don’t forward] spam messages to UIS Email Abuse [or emailabuse@uis.edu]. We will block any incoming messages with recurring detectable and traceable origins.To copy email to the UIS Email Abuse mailbox:

The offending email message must be copied and not forwarded to preserve internet headers. These headers allow us to trace the route.

  1. In Outlook left click on the email message so that it is highlighted.
  2. Click on Edit on the Outlook Menu Bar.
  3. Click on copy.
  4. Open a new mail message.
  5. Type UIS Email Abuse or emailabuse@uis.edu in the To field.
  6. Type Email Abuse in the Subject field.
  7. Click in the message area of the new message.
  8. Click on Edit on the Outlook Menu Bar.
  9. Click on paste.
  10. Click send.
  • Use the Delete key.
  • Use the Junk and Adult Content filters in Outlook [available under Tools, Organize].

The perpetrators of email spam use a number of methods which make it very difficult for network and email administrators to block their messages. They typically will use send their messages from a “borrowed” email address, in effect sending the message as someone else. They will then change that address rapidly so as to prevent their messages from being blocked. Knowledgeable spammers can spoof an email address so as to make it appear to have originated from a legitimate web site, google.com or hotmail.com, even uis.edu. Spammers will typically relay their messages through three or four email servers to make tracing messages back to the source difficult. In addition, they will purposely insert several “pops” [server visits] that the message did not take to further obscure the message source. Even when a message can be traced, its origin is frequently from a site outside the United States. English language complaints to these sites are ignored, either by choice or because of the language barrier.

There have been some legislative attempts to regulate and control email spam. There is now legislation before the Congress which would place limits on spam. However, previous attempts to pass such legislation failed. The State of Illinois has enacted law in an attempt to control spam. However, the law only applies if a third party Internet Service Provider [ISP] is used or if the message contains misleading information. In addition, the message is not considered spam if instructions are given within the message describing how the recipient can be removed from the distribution list, even if the specified return address is invalid!

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done technically to stop incoming email spam before it reaches your mailbox. Because of the aforementioned “address rotation” it is nearly impossible to block incoming messages. Though tools are available for purchase to scan the content of incoming email messages for commercial or graphic content, their effectiveness is far from perfect. Beyond that, such tools seem more appropriate in a corporate setting than in an environment such as ours. In our view, scanning the content of email for spam is in its own way as offensive as email spam itself.

 

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