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Way to Battle Unsolicited e-mail

July 29, 2001

In this age of e-mail inundation, one of the most dizzying problems for Internet users is the flood of unsolicited e-mail advertising, or ``spam.''

Spam is considered as one of the headaches that led Internet service providers to bear the costs of bandwidth, filtering software, extra hardware and personnel to cope with the volume of unwanted e-mail, not to mention unhappy customers.

So far, though e-mail service providers have struggled to root out such ``occupational spammers,'' most Internet users still get a slew of unsolicited advertising. For instance weight-loss schemes, lures to pornographic sites or debt reduction plans.

While the early-stages of spam was focused on selling pirated computer disks, recent unsolicited e-mail advertisements have expanded, stretching from ads for real estate to hoax-like multi-level marketing.

One of the conventional answers to fight back such unsolicited e-mails is filtering software that is provided by most Web mail services. However, filtering software is not that effective.

The classic countermeasure allows Internet users to block unwanted e-mails by registering senders' mailing address on their hard drives. That means that Internet users have the possibility to get unwanted e-mails even though they installed the software when spammers send their messages from new addresses. In order to plug this gap, some e-mail service operators introduced upgraded blocking systems against those black e-mails.

Internet media company Yahoo! Korea and Microsoft Network (MSN) recently added spam-like in-box services that led those advertising e-mails automatically to be sorted out. Online users now receive only e-mails which they choose as valued information by memorizing the sender's mailing address.

For those who want more powerful software to halt the flood, some blocking software, such as ``spam buster'' or ``spam hater,'' is available on the Internet.

Based on ten thousands of listed spam mailing addresses, those blocking programs can trace the sender's Internet protocol (IP) address and resend the unwanted messages to original senders.

According to a recent survey released by market research company Gartner, around 34 percent of internal business e-mail is reported to be unnecessary. The survey described this e-mail intrusion as ``occupation spam'' and advise managers to take proactive steps in reducing it.

``Employees are e-mailing their co-workers more and more in an effort to be helpful and more communicative,'' said Gartner's senior research analyst Maurene Caplan Grey in a press release on their homepage.

``In reality, they are cluttering up their e-mail in-boxes, filling up servers and sapping productivity with the volume of messages. In a slowing economy, where businesses are looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity, simply cutting out unnecessary e-mail will have an immediate impact.''

Meanwhile, in a separate survey, International Data Corp. estimated that last year the average daily volume of e-mail around the world was some 10 billion, and will explode to 35 billion by 2005.


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