Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Spam nightmare

I have three email addresses with my internet service provider, BT. A primary one, one I use as a receptacle for any emails sent from a contact form on my web sites, and a third that I use to send mail on my iPhone and iPad. This last mentioned address has been hijacked and I'm now receiving an inordinate amount of spam on it.

Up to now spam hasn't been a major issue for me but it's now coming in in droves. Time to go to BT web mail (I usually use the Mail app on my Mac) to see what options were available to intercept the stuff. First off you can 'block' an individual message, but unfortunately on many of the spam mails this action just generated an error to the effect that the blocking had failed. Next option is to dump the message into the Spam folder, which presumably triggers some actions within BT's spam algorithms to recognise any future similar messages. The third weapon is to set rules to try to intercept the damn things.

To me rules seemed the best approach as it includes an option to send an undeliverable message to the sender, which one would hope would ultimately cause the spammer to lose interest in the address. Unfortunately setting rules requires you to identify who the spam is from, but these guys are experts at covering their tracks. You can alternatively set key words for the subject field or the message contents. I've set about a dozen rules using my best endeavours to identify senders from the raw message data but spam continues to arrive containing the key words that I had set to block it.

Interesting sender addresses - obviously randomly generated
I also tried setting rules within OS X Mail. One prominent feature of much of the spam is that it shows the email address that it has hacked, often within the subject field or the body of the message. I tried catching these event with two rules in Mail, with the instruction to send any spam thus identified to a new mailbox that I set up purely for this purpose. This worked once! However, I must admit that I've noticed that the occurrence of spam with my email address embedded in this way has reduced significantly, so perhaps all the faffing around with rules on BT web mail (where I also tried to trap the same thing) is actually starting to have some effect.

I'm also moving all the spam to the spam folder at BT web mail, hoping that this will 'educate' their spam filters.

The annoying thing with all this is that this mail is blatantly spam and I really don't understand why BT aren't intercepting it before it even gets to me, although looking at the forums it seems that BT's spam blocking capabilities took a nosedive when they migrated mail from Yahoo to their own system some time ago.

I shall continue to build rules and move the stuff to the spam folder in the hope that ultimately I will close all the loopholes and will get back what was previously a very clean email address that I had tried to protect from this sort of thing. To be fair the quantity has reduced significantly since I began by war against it a few days ago. Fingers crossed that I'm slowly getting there.

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