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Adopt a few alter egos and avoid the traffic spam

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I don't know how many of you suffer from spam. Colleagues of mine are inundated with the stuff. From a marketing point of view it seems completely stupid for companies to send you unsolicited email which makes you hate them. But still it comes.

Depending on what week it is and who is talking up a cure for it,30 or 40 per cent of all email traffic is spam. And its cost is said to be about £5.6 billion, although your guess about these figures is as good as anyone's.

But how do spammers get your address? According to new research from the scarily named but wellintentioned Washington-based Centre for Democracy and Technology, it is mostly from having your name listed on a public website. To minimise spam, its website (www. cdt. org/speech/spam/ 030319spamreport. shtml) suggests that if your email address has to be listed in a electronic public place you should replace the conventional form fred@domain. com with fred at domain dot com. I'm not as sure as the report writers that this is quite that easy to do.

It also suggests using disposable email addresses when registering your details on unfamiliar websites (Google for 'disposable email addresses') and signing up for spam filters offered by many ISPs. Also, consider changing to a longer email address because, the theory goes, short names are more likely to receive more spam. Interestingly, although your real name and address has to appear on the public register of domain names, this does not seem to be a spammer's source. The site mentions brute force attacks - in which the attacker sends emails to all the words in the dictionary - for which there seems to be no protection.

Coordinated European and US legislation banning spam and making online tracking via cookies visible and optional is due to be enacted in October, though it is thought the spammers will merely move to sites outside the US/EU jurisdiction.

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