DIGITAL LIFE:  SCRUB YOUR INBOX

MANILA, June 1, 2004  (MANILA TIMES) By Chin Wong -  MY inbox is inundated with junk mail.

Everyday, I get about 70 messages in my Manila Times e-mail account, and 65 of them will be garbage. Most of these come from faceless lowlifes selling me Viagra or stock tips, or hoping I’ll fall for a get-rich quick scam. Then there’s the rubbish generated by Netsky-type viruses. These often have some innocuous subject line like “Your document” and come with the virus file attached.

To make matters worse, I redirect my mail to my Yahoo! Mail account, so I often have to deal with the spam twice.

Now I know my way around e-mail programs and I know all about filters. Unfortunately, the scumbags on the other end of cyberspace know that I know. Lately, the subject of my spam message doesn’t say “viagra”—because they know my e-mail program is going to filter that and throw it straight into the trash. Now the subject reads “vi.agra,” which effectively eludes my filter with a well-placed period. The period moves randomly through key words, so even if I add the bastardized spelling to my long list of filters (32 and counting), the garbage still gets through.

Nor is it easy to filter out the Netsky flotsam. Many of these come from people I know, whose computers have been infected. Unknown to them, the virus is using their address book to send copies of itself to their contacts—­including me.

Still, I don’t want to block legitimate mail from them and I certainly don’t want to automatically trash every message with the word “document” in its subject line.

So far, I’ve been getting by with simply deleting the messages one by one. But this is a pain, since all 65 messages need to be downloaded onto my computer first before I can delete them.

The filters just aren’t enough.

While doing research for this month’s “Best Free Stuff on the ‘Net” issue of TechTimes (see yesterday’s issue of the Times), I stumbled upon the latest version of an old program that might help.

MailWasher Pro (www.mail­washer.net) is a small download (2.8MB) that does three things to address my e-mail problems.

First, it lets me preview incoming mail from multiple accounts without downloading them.

Second, it lets me delete messages while they’re still on the server.

Best of all, it will let me bounce spam back to the sender and make it appear that my e-mail address is invalid. The program automatically deletes bounced mail from the server and blocks future e-mail from the same address.

MailWasher Pro is an upgrade from MailWasher, a tiny utility that’s been around since 2001. With new antispam features, it’s apparently changed hands and is now owned by FireTrust, a company that sells a commercial version of the program. Remarkably, the basic program is still free. If you’ve got a growing spam problem, you might want to give your inbox a good scrubbing with MailWasher.

Send feedback to cwong­@ateneo.edu or chinwong­@mani­la­times.net


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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