What is spam?
Spam is unsolicited, unwanted electronic mail similar
to paper junk mail. It can advertise a range of goods
and services or attempt to get you to reveal information
about yourself. People who send spam generally harvest
email address from a variety of sources and then craft
their messages in specific ways to keep them from being
recognized and blocked by spam filters. Messages range
from well designed and legitimate looking to simply text
that makes no sense at all.
Most spam falls into the following categories:
Advance fee scams and fraud
Medications and health
E-advertising services and business opportunities
IT, education and training
Why I am receiving spam?
The University does not sell its electronic directory to anyone,
nor does the University intentionally give out email address lists.
University IT does not permit mining of the University's online
directory and does make every attempt possible to protect
institutional information while providing appropriate levels of access.
However, spammers can still get your email address in a number of
They can grab your email address from:
Publicly accessible web pages where you've listed your address
Forwarded chain letters, joke emails, etc.
Online contest or "free" gift forms
Documents with your address on them that you've thrown away
Randomly guessing addresses and hoping the destination is a
What can I do?
Avoiding spam is difficult, but there are several steps you can take
to at least minimize the amount of spam you receive.
- Use the spam management software offered by the University.
Read more about it here.
- Read carefully when signing up for or entering contests on
especially ones that are advertised in pop-up ads. These
sell your information or send you unwanted information from the
company hosting the contest.
- Don’t post your email address on a publicly accessible web
Spammers use spambots which are web crawlers that can gather
from web sites and chat-room conversations. If you need to post your
address online, spell out the address, like in the example below:
JohnDoe AT ROCHESTER DOT EDU
This will prevent most spambots from harvesting your email
they look for lines of text with the "at" symbol [@]. By eliminating
symbol, the spambots see it as just any other line of text, but human
will interpret it as an email address.
- NEVER respond to a spam email.
Many people try to respond to the email, requesting to be taken
mailing list. By replying, you are letting the spammer know that your
email address is active and that you actually open and read spam
Those two pieces of information make you a prime target, and the
spam you receive is likely to increase.
- Do not forward spam to other people you know.
Some spam warns about an alleged new virus and its damaging
demanding that the reader send the message to as many people as
to alert them. Sometimes these messages are designed to simply create a
mess of annoying email, but others will contain a virus or code to
harvest the email addresses of everyone to which you forward the
If you receive one of these potential hoax emails, verify the
with a reputable source before forwarding it to anyone else.
- When you receive spam, report it then delete it!
Most email services have simple ways for you to report spam
right from your
inbox. Or you can send a copy to the Federal Trade Commission at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The FTC uses
emails to pursue law enforcement actions against spammers. Once you
reported spam, delete it.
- Set up an alternate email account.
Try to use your UR email account strictly for University
matters, such as
correspondence with students, professors, and staff. Set up a separate
email account with a free email service, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, to
for personal business, such as online purchases. This will decrease
chance of your UR email address getting into spammers’ hands and keep
bulk email from cluttering your main inbox.
- Use a complicated personal email address. Spammers’ software
easy or obvious addresses first.
Making yours more complicated by using a variety of letters,
other characters will make your email address more difficult to guess.
- Read web sites’ privacy policies.
it, don’t give
your email address to any web sites or companies. Some may sell your
- Register your email addresses on an opt-out list.
Marketing Association’s Email Preference Service
allows you to register any or all of your email addresses that
like to keep out of mass mailing lists. The DMA states that all of its
4,500 members are required to take registered addresses off their
lists, while non-members can also use this service.
- Use an email filter.
Check your email account to see if it provides a tool to filter
spam or to channel spam into a bulk email folder. University IT
information on how
to set up filters
using Pine, WebMail, Eudora, Netscape, Entourage, Outlook
Express, and Outlook 2000/XP.