Image spam is a big part of the resurgence of unwanted e-mail. By using pictures instead of words in their messages, spammers are able to evade filters designed to detect traditional text-based ads. New computer viruses have contributed to the uptick, also, particularly a surprisingly prolific Trojan horse program called “SpamThru” that turns home computers into spam-churning “bots.”
Some small organizations are having real trouble with the spam surge, IronPort officials say. One county government office called the firm after its mail server shut down. “(It) could not even slowly process mail,” said IronPort spokeswoman Suzanne Matick. “They ended up with no mail going to their 7,500 users for seven days.” She declined to identify the agency, citing confidentiality agreements.
This is becoming an issue in churches as we try to move over to using email and other online technology more effectively. I’ve been told any of number of times that messages that I sent didn’t through to people – and more often than not – it’s because their email host is using over-enthusiastic blocking technology to try to stem the flood of spam. (AOL is worst example of this. AOL has been rejecting email parish newsletters for years. Mostly because parishes don’t know how to set up a proper SPF record.)
For what it’s worth, if you’re running a church site and plan on sending email out to folks in the congregation, and you’d like to reliably get mail from other people, get yourself a reliable email hosting company. Don’t rely on the free email accounts that come with your DSL, Cable or dial-up internet account.
I use FastMail for my personal mail and Tuffmail for the Cathedral mail. (I like FastMail a lot, but it’s not setup at the moment to handle multiple users on one bill.) There are lots of others out there as well. One of the better free ones is GMail – especially their Google Apps for Your Domain program that provides hosting, email and document sharing for free. (As long as you trust Google to not lose your account (which happens) and to protect your and your parishioner’s privacy.)