Dept: Geek Guide
Tech: Anti-spam tools and software
BETA | | | | | FINALYes, spam sucks. And not just in the most obvious way: It also sucks resources, bandwidth and value right out of the Internet. Every offer for erectile enhancement is a direct hit to your wallet. That’s because the additional cost of spam in wasted human hours, wasted bandwidth and wasted CPU cycles drives up the cost of Internet access for everyone. A report by Ferris Research found that spam cost U.S. businesses more than $10 billion last year. And the outlook is not sunny: Research firm Gartner Inc. recently reported that spam is increasing 1,000 percent a year and will represent more than 50 percent of all e-mail in 2004.
There are about as many proposed solutions as there are offers for cheap prescription drugs, and while spam- fighting tools are constantly improving, none is perfect. Worse, no one has yet solved the core problem: There’s
simply no incentive for spammers not to spam. Even the government’s recently passed Can-Spam Act is considered ineffective by most anti-spam groups—as long as junk e-mails contain a way to “opt out” of future mailings, the law says they’re legit. This is a real blow to Europe, where tougher anti-spam laws can now be bypassed simply by mailing from a U.S. source.
But while the war with spammers wages on, at least you can win a few battles: Teaming the desktop-, server- and network-level technologies below will reduce the number of times you have to read the words “enlargement guaranteed” outside a photo store.
Dozens of spam-blocking programs are available, but here are a few of our favorites. Just make sure the tool you choose works with your e-mail client and operating system.
SpamAssassin, free; spamassassin.org
McAfee SpamKiller, $40; spamkiller.com
Spamnix, $30; spamnix.com
Qurb, $30; qurb.com
Challenge and response
Mailblocks, freeâ€$25/year; mailblocks.com
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.