How to score in the war against junk email

I used to do a little kick boxing. But I never imagined I'd referee a fight in the middle of the AnchorDesk lunchroom.

I used to do a little kick boxing. But I never imagined I'd referee a fight in the middle of the AnchorDesk lunchroom. But that's the thing about spam. It makes people furious. Forces them to take awkward positions. Gets them so intense even the most passive come close to blows. To keep you from that, I've assembled a Spam TKO Toolkit below.

First let me tell you what had the AnchorDesk gang rrrrready to rrrrrumble. Liz reported last week about Virginia's crackdown on spam. The Legislature there passed a law making it a crime to send mass, unsolicited email. Click for more. Seems everyone has a slightly different take:

Annette is ticked because she's getting so much spam these days -- she guesses 30-70 spam-to-mail.

Liz says she doesn't care how much spam there is, she doesn't want politicians controlling her inbox.

Jon thinks people ought to quit whining and build tools to block the stuff they don't want.

Neil, our new associate editor, argues savvy spammers will always find ways around filters. But jail time or big fines might stop them.

Nicci wonders why the fuss? She figures the day may come when she wants to make $10,000 working a few hours a week at home.

They all raise good points. We need to find better technology to stymie spammers. And if we allow government to regulate email, we better watch what they do very carefully. The First Amendment is too precious to mess with. Example: I'd hate to have people picketing outside of my office. But I'd never vote to outlaw it. Fortunately, with a few quick moves and well-placed punches, you can reduce the amount of spam you receive:

Protect your anonymity online. Spammers collect addresses from newsgroups and the Web. Be sly: Don't add your email address to Internet directories. Always leave the email address field blank when filling out generic Web forms. Confuse spammers by using an email alias for public postings. Consider having two accounts -- a free Web-based email account for mailing lists, newsgroups or Web forms and a main account for communicating with family, friends, colleagues. ZDTV offers more tips for outsmarting spammers. Click for more.

Let technology help. Spam bogs down mail servers and LANs, reduces employee productivity and makes ISPs fighting mad. If you're running a business, investigate server-side filters that identify and filter unwanted email. Some mail servers have built-in spam filtering; proxy servers and software-only servers offer spam-fighting solutions, too. Smart Reseller has details. Click for more.

Download top-rated filters. The ZDNet Software Library has a large selection of top-rated spam filters you can download now. A few worth checking out: Spam Exterminator for Win95 Spam Buster for Win95-98-NT SpamKiller