If you’re one of those lucky people who only get a few emails a day, it would be hard for you to imagine what it means to get hundreds of unwanted emails. Downloading and sifting through this amount of messages, then deleted the spam is a thankless task.
At one point, some victims of spam resort to installing special email filters on their computers or subscribe in a filtering service that works remotely. Although these filtering mechanisms are trying to keep up with spam techniques, intelligently examining messages to determine their legitimacy, the practical truth is that these filter’s effectiveness remains limited. You still have to sift through all the messages that were filtered out, as a number of legitimate messages do get caught in the filters. Some spam also will manage to get through the filters.
Some organizations and individuals who are really desperate have started adopting a policy of not checking filtered out messages. They are willing to accept the loss of a few legitimate messages for the sake of avoiding to deal with sifting through junk.
It doesn’t stop here: faced with hundreds or even thousands of spam messages per day some users are adopting draconian measures to protect themselves. Email s senders: say hello to an age where you have to prove you’re a human being and not a spam machine!
What we’re talking about here are filters that don’t depend on clever algorithms or machine “intelligence”, but on a simple test: is the sender a human being. It is well know that spammers utilize bulk mailing software to send out millions of messages. In contrast, normal human being send out each of their legitimate messages individually. What these new filters do is the following: each incoming message detained by the filter, which works remotely (i.e. not on your PC). The filter then automatically sends a “challenge” reply to the sender which only humans can over come. The sender is asked to click a link in the challenge message which takes him or her to a web page that displays an obscured graphic representation of a word or number, which the sender has to re-enter into a field. This proves the sender is human and the message is allowed through. Future messages form this authorized sender are automatically accepted.
Users of such services (such as SpamArrest.com or KnowSpam.net) are allowed to upload their address book into the filter, which spares your friends and associates from going through the “are-you-human” test. Users can also allow newsletters to which they are subscribed and automated emails from, say, Amazon.com to get through. But anyone outside this uploaded list will have to through the test once.
To some people, such a solution seems extreme. Some senders (think: a potential customer or a n old school friend) will be intimidated by the challenge to their “human-ness”. But as long there are crazy spammers out there and as long there is no effective legislation or technology to solve the spam problem from its roots, some email users will feel compelled to take extreme measures to protect their inboxes.
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