||What are the negative
impacts of spam email on the Internet Community?
Every time someone sends out a spam email,
the entire Internet community bears the
cost, not just the recipients and the ISPs
at the receiving end. Some Internet users
are charged according to connection time,
and spam email forces people to spend extra
time online, costing them for downloading
unwanted spam messages.
Spam is of course disruptive for email
users, wasting their time, and ultimately
making email less convenient and useful
as the amount of spam continues to grow.
Spam email ties up bandwidth and resources
on computers and routers all over the Internet.
Every unwanted email message adds to the
total cost of operating the networks of
computers that form the paths of delivery
to recipients. Spam email can disrupt a
network by crashing mail servers and filling
up hard drives. It also constitutes an invasion
of the online privacy of Internet users.
||How do spammers obtain
my email address?
Spammers seek out potential lists of targets
by scanning online forums, newsgroup postings,
stealing mailing lists from other sites
or users, or searching websites and Internet
Relay Chat sites for email addresses. The
gathering such information is facilitated
by automated software packages or robots,
designed for spam searching across different
Internet service environments. As bandwidth
costs get cheaper, some spammers are using
a tactic called the "dictionary attack",
by which emails are sent to guessed email
addresses drawn from words in the dictionary.
Again, this can also be done with automated
||Should I complain or
reply to a spammer in order to get my email
address removed from a spam email list?
Do not reply or complain by simply clicking
the reply button. Most likely, the reply
address is forged. If you reply to that
email address, or to the ISP that provides
the spammer's email address, you are more
than likely being tricked by the spammer
into wasting your time (and the victim ISP's
time) by complaining to the wrong party.
Seek help from your ISP if you want to find
out the real person sending you spam emails.
Unless you are confident that the organisation
sending out the spam email is trustworthy,
do not send any unsubscribe request. It
is more than likely that such a request
will be either ignored or worse, used as
a confirmation that your email address is
valid and operational, exposing you to yet
more spam in the future.
||Is there any software
that can help me to block or screen out spam
emails on the user side?
Yes. One of the most effective ways to
control spam emails is to use protective
software known as filters. While you cannot
stop people from sending spam emails to
you with anti-spam filters, you can stop
the messages from showing up in your inbox
and have them deleted automatically. Filters
allow you to easily block any email messages
carrying specified addresses, domains, subjects,
or text from entering your inbox. Some popular
email programmes already offer spam-filtering
features. A number of separate filtering
tools that work with popular email packages
are also available on the market. However,
filters may sometimes fail to identify spam
emails, or (less likely) classify legitimate
emails as spam messages.
||Is there a way for me
to lodge a complaint if I receive spam emails?
If you suspect that someone is selling
or using harvested address lists, you should
report it to the Communications Authority (CA).
The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) will investigate
and may prosecute the seller or user. If
your computer has been hacked and exploited
by someone sending out spam emails, you
should also report the incident to CA.
OFCA will collate reports and may transfer
the case to the Hong Kong Police where applicable.
If you suspect that the sender is contravening
any rules for sending commercial electronic
messages, again you may report this to CA.
||What is a third party
relay email server?
A third party mail relay is an email server
receiving email from an unknown sender and
then sending it on to one or more recipients
that are not users of that email system.
Some email systems enable this relay feature
by default after installation. Taking into
account the large number of mail servers
that exist on the Internet, this is still
a considerable number of servers that allow
Spammers are able to simply collect lists
of third party mail relays on the Internet
using automated scanning programs. Once
they have some lists, spammers can configure
their spamming tool with the relay's address,
so it obscures their identity from recipients
and places the burden of the work on an
email server that is not their own, so they
don't worry about overloading or crashing
||How do the Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) in Hong Kong react
on the issue of email spamming?
Almost all ISPs operating in Hong Kong
have included in their service agreements
provisions to prohibit users from abusing
their services for the purpose of email
spamming. Spammers face warnings or even
suspension or termination of services with
forewarnings if they persist.
Furthermore, many ISPs commonly adopt a
number of technical measures to combat the
spamming problem. For example, their email
servers may refuse to transmit emails not
composed by the sender (such as rejecting
to forward an email received by the subscriber
to the third party); or they may maintain
a blacklist of known bad email servers (i.e.
they reject to receive and forward emails
sent from blacklisted servers); or they
may limit the quantity of emails sent from
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