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How to Fight Internet Spam

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How to Fight Internet Spam

– by Florian Feuser

If you have an email address, you know what spam is. If you’ve had one email address for as many as fifteen years or more, you also know that a deluge of spam renders an email box virtually useless.

Funny Garbage is one of the original design and technology shops in New York City - we’ve been around since the mid-1990s and many of our senior staff have had the same email address for just as long. That translates to fifteen-plus years of having one’s email address in circulation.

Whether it was “harvested" from web page (remember those clickable “mailto:” links? What a bad idea that was), or Microsoft Macro Viruses that have sent your email address, along with mine and a thousand more, from the Outlook Address Book of a clueless victim’s infected PC to professional spammers - once your address is out there, you will receive spam; and the longer it’s been out there, the worse your spam problem is.

There are quite a few ways to combat spam, and this is a subject for another post (or book, perhaps), but here’s what you can do: Crowd-source spam recognition by using Postini. Postini, founded in 1999 and owned by Google since 2007, is an email gateway that functions as a mail laundry against viruses, spam and also provides message continuity, in case in-house mail servers are off-line for whatever reason. The beauty of Postini is its size: it literally processes billions of messages per week for Google Apps users and Stand-alone customers with in-house mail systems. Millions of users help Postini every day to distinguish between legitimate email and spam. That’s the "Good".

The Bad: Google isn’t interested in Postini as a stand-alone product any longer. They are selling Google Apps for business instead which has the Postini service integrated into its suite of applications. It appears that Postini will be dropped as a stand-alone product by Google sometime in the near future, as indicated by recent Postini staff lay-offs and not-so-subtle hints and announcements.

The Ugly: Postini’s interface, setup and support tools could use some work. Its administration interface is a bit cluttered, some setup procedures simply do not work, and there’s an abundance of proprietary terminology that is not so intuitive.

While the setup isn't fun, Postini does deserve a round of applause as it does its job extraordinarily well! Sure beats wading through hundreds of spam messages!