Spam Filter

Spam filter systems to stop those unwanted spam emails:

Spam filter programs allow users to filter out possible spam messages by sender, subject and content. Spam content usually differs from legitimate emails sufficiently enough to enable spam filters to be configured or trained to identify them. The main problem with spam filtering techniques is that they can often produce too many false positives (genuine emails wrongly identified as spam). A good option to mitigate this problem is to integrate spam filtering with a personal whitelist overide. A whitelist consists of user defined genuine email addresses that you don't want blocked. Anti-spam tools that use whitelists, blacklists and challenge/response techniques are usually referred to as spam blockers, however tools are also available that combine both spam filtering and spam blocking techniques.


Spam Filtering Techniques

Pattern-matching Filters

This technique consist of pre-defined spam filtering rules which extend the rules found Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. They filter out spam by searching for banned words, text strings and character sets in the email content, sender and subject line. This method produces a large amount of false positives because genuine emails may innocently contain banned words or text strings.

Bayesian Filters

An effective spam filtering technique that uses statistics to analyse whether emails are likely to be spam. It balances typical spammer word usage and the overall context of the email in its analysis. It also has the capacity to learn by trial and error as well as tailor itself to the requirements of the individual user.

Example: K9 www.keir.net/k9.html - An excellent spam filter producing minimal false positives.

Heuristic Filters

These are spam filters that use a combination of pattern-matching filtering and Bayesian analysis to increase the chances of correctly filtering spam from genuine emails.

Example: Ella www.openfieldsoftware.com - Requires MS Outlook. Minimal false positives.


Spam Filter/Blocker Combinations

  • Spam Bully www.spambully.com allows a choice of a combination of whitelists and personal blacklists, DNS blacklist, language, keyword and country filters, challenging/response and Bayesian spam filtering. Requires MS Outlook or Outlook Express. 14 Day Free Trial.
  • Spam Sleuth www.bluesquirrel.com works transparently offering Bayesian spam filtering, powerful scoring filters, whitelists, blacklists and challenge/response spam blocking. Spam Sleuth analyzes e-mails for spam, web bugs, phishing scams and virus characteristics. Requires POP3 email program. 60 day Free Trial.
  • G-Lock SpamCombat combines whitelist and blacklist blocking with Bayesian filtering to produce an effective anti-spam solution. Requires POP3 email program.


Steps you can take to block spam

  • Use a good quality heuristic spam filter, preferably in combination with a personal whitelist to mitigate false positives. Even if it doesn't completely block all spam it will allow you to manage the problem as best as the current technology will allow.
  • Always stay up-to-date with the latest version of Outlook or whatever email software you use. The latest releases are often enhanced with the latest spam filtering and blocking techniques.
  • Learn how to use your spam filter or the filtering rules in your email software.
  • Subscribe to an ISP that provides spam filtering and blocking services.
  • Subscribe to a webmail service that provides spam filtering and blocking. Compare.
  • Don't supply your email address to online competitions and sweepstakes.
  • Don't post your private email address in forums and guestbooks. If you need to post your email address set up a temporary junk email address.
  • If you're a website publisher use javascript instead of HTML to display your email address.
    Example anti-spam javascript (appears as ):


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