Dealing with Junk Email
What is Junk Email?
Junk Email (or "Spam") is any email received when it has not specifically been asked for. It may be advertising goods or services, or even warning of a new supposed "virus." It is always something that you don't want to receive. Additionally, some of it, eg that advertising availability of pornographic material, may be offensive to many people. By including an attachment to an email, it is easy to spread computer viruses quickly.
The messages may appear to be sent directly to your email account, or may be distributed via newsgroups, mailing list servers and so on. Whatever the content of the email, and however "targeted" it appears, in general, the message has not been sent directly to you. Many companies exist now which sell lists of email addresses, which can be gathered from many sources. If you send email to mailing lists, take part in newsgroups, request information from on-line sources, you may have made your email name accessible to junk mail senders.
What should / shouldn't I do with "junk" messages?
The best policy to deal with junk messages is to delete them as soon as you receive them - in this way, the people that sent the message never receive a reply from your account, and may not send a message to your account.
Things that you shouldn't do with junk messages are:
- Never respond to them - by replying to the message, you're giving them your email address, and confirming to them that your mail account is active.
- Never respond to instructions to reply with the word "remove" - again, by replying to the message, you're giving them your email address, and confirming your account is active. Chances are that you won't be removed from the list, and you may in fact be added to more lists as a result.
- Never click on URL (web addresses) contained within the message - again, this action could alert the message sender of the validity of your email address.
- Never sign up to sites that promise to remove your address from junk email lists - although the site may be legitimate, there's also the chance that the site is owned by email address collectors, so instead of giving your email address to be removed from a list, you've just added it to another.
- If you receive an email with an attachment that you haven't asked for - DO NOT open the attachment. It's very common to spread viruses by email - when you open the attachment, you could be launching the virus on your computer.
What LJMU are doing to reduce spam email - system level filtering.
In addition to the filters that can be applied by Microsoft Outlook and other email programs after the message has been received, it is also possible to filter the messages using external "anti-spam" blacklists. JANET (the Joint Academic Network) to which LJMU is connected, subscribes to the RBL service. The RBL (Realtime Blackhole List) consists of a number of known junk email senders. Should a message be received from one of these senders, it will automatically be rejected, minimising the amount of junk email that is received by the LJMU email servers. Of course, this list will not be able to filter ALL junk email, as the junk email senders can use different accounts through which the messages may be sent. It does, however, greatly reduce the amount of junk emails that are received by the LJMU email system.