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How to avoid receiving unsolicited junk email (a.k.a. spam).

There are two aspects of being the target of spam: 1. prevent your real email address being known to spammers, but 2. if you do receive spam, take steps to prevent damage to your computer or that of anyone whose email address you have. Spammers obtain their addresses from many sources including web pages, usenet newsgroups, and other people’s personal computers. Anti-virus software is essential but may not innoculate you from some malware which hasn’t been written yet.

Web pages

If your email address appears on a web page you can be sure to receive spam. Webmasters ought to ensure that steps are taken to encrypt email links to make it as difficult as possible for any email addresses to be found by a spammer’s robot. It is better not to encrypt every email link on the internet in the same way so each webmaster should find their own way to do it and after encryption any page must past the tests at validator.w3.org. If your address appears unencrypted on someone else’s pages, you can ask for it to be removed, but it’s probably too late. Spammers probably found it before you did.

Usenet News Groups

On 19 September 2004 our junk email destruction service saved one of our users downloading more than 150 Windows viruses masquerading as microsoft security patches. This was in excess of a 17 Mb download. At the time, our user was on a dialup connection. Do you simply want to cut off one source of junk email? If you’re using Windows you will want to avoid viruses spread by email to addresses harvested from usenet postings or other sources.

If you are fed up with receiving spam to the address you use for usenet or other postings, it’s high time you used a valid but junk-only email address. contact me with your desired username (e.g. yourname@invalid.org.uk) and a note of your genuine email address for instructions on how to obtain one. Your invalid.org.uk email will not be forwarded (it will be deleted from the server) but I will keep an offline, paper-based register of authorised users of invalid.org.uk addresses. You keep the address for life. Just so long as your registered email address (which can change - admin charge £2) remains valid.
(N.B Use of an unregistered invalid.org.uk address will attract a charge of £50 per usage.)

Other People's personal computers

If you look at the table on the right (you may need to refresh the page) my bet is that you will find many (if not all) of these virus alerts attack the Windows operating system. Click on them to see more details such as the OS they target. Some of these worms, viruses and trojans are not only sent by spammers, they are themselves a form of ‘spambot’ and may be able to harvest the addresses in your address book or from any file on your PC and send them to spammers, or simply send spam direct to those addresses, perhaps spreading itself further. You are thinking that an anti-virus program will protect you and it probably will. The problem with virus protection is that it is very difficult - if not impossible - to innoculate against a clever virus which doesn’t yet exist. In other words, the cure exists only after the problem has occurred, which is too late if your address book is privy to spammers. Please, do not ever store my address on any version of Microsoft Outlook. Last time I checked, the average time for finding a cure for a virus was 5.2 days. Think how much damage can be done in five days. Best of all, eschew the mainstream operating systems (Windoze, Mac, Linux) and buy a latest RISC OS machine as I have. Virus writers haven't heard of it and are unlikely to attack it as there are so few RISC OS machines 'out there'.

More about spam and forged emails ...

If the table below doesn't show the top ten alerts, try refreshing the page.

How do I send Word or Publisher files by email?

In one word: don’t. It is rude. Here is why:

  1. Not everyone has a copy of Microsoft Word and/or Microsoft Publisher, nor wants to buy a copy. It may have been free with your particular Windows Box but my box doesn’t even do Windows, Mac or Linux let alone a specific piece of version-specific proprietary software with a closed file format.
    Even if there exists a way to render the file....
  2. Other programs which can load Word files (including different versions of Word/Publisher to the one you used) can quite easily render your file differently* to what you expect.
  3. Even if recipients have the same version of Word/Publisher as you: If their default layout and printer differs from yours, the same file can look different* to what you expect.
  4. There is a danger with Word files that they are sent containing revisions and other information which may be confidential. If, for example, you re-use a Word file letter to your bank to write to me and simply edit the address, date, and content and send it attached to an email, it may well contain those things you deleted - bank address, account number, account name, etc. N.B. There is usually a setting to avoid this hidden somewhere.
* 'different' means (e.g.) that bits (e.g. images and WordArt) will be invisible.

You may find it better to still use good old Word or Puiblisher to write your document but create a PDF (Portable Document Format) file to send people or place on a website when you have finished. These can be created FOR FREE using PrimoPDF. They look the same everwhere; or at least, they make a better job of it. PDF readers are available for many operating systems and devices.

If you use OpenOffice, which also is FREE, that can save PDFs directly. You can be pretty certain that what you see is what was sent. If your system has no PDF reader, the Adobe Reader can be downloaded for most operating systems. Or from here for RISC OS.

(This page is a work in progress and incomplete)

If you wish to contact me try here: postmaster@invalid.org.uk,

Or visit my web site: www.timil.com

or use the 'write' button below.

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