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InterCape's ADVANCED ANTI-SPAM Filters

InterCape is very proud to announce the installation of a new and very advanced spam detection system.

Here are some questions and answers. More information will follow.

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1. What is spam? Should I be concerned?

Spam:

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force 
the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial 
advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services,
as well as pornographic web sites. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs 
are paid for by the recipient or the ISP rather than by the sender. Spam is the number
one problem on the Internet today.

The main concern for us with spam is that we don't want to see our customers receive
something they do not wish to. Or get "ripped off" through fraud or a scams. We strongly advise 
all customers to NEVER RESPOND TO ANY SPAM. 

2. What is going on with spam and InterCape? 

Like most Internet service providers, InterCape Online has been in a long virtual war with 
these unscrupulous individuals and companies. They have attacked our servers by flooding them 
with many messages. They have sent out spam pretending to be from us or our clients. They have
sent explicit pornographic material to children and others who should not receive it. Daily 
they pump thousands of "get rich quick schemes" and other frauds at our customers.

3. Do you provide our email addresses to these spammers or anyone for that matter?

NO, unlike much larger Internet service providers InterCape does not provide or sell any information 
about you to anyone and will never do so ..ever. The only exception would be if we were under court
order or legal subpoena and this has never happened.

4. How do they get my email address in the first place then?

Spammers use special software that scans web sites and other places for email addresses. They also
purchase them from companies or web sites you may have given your email address to. Once your
email address is on a spammers list it will be shared or sold to other spammers. Soon you will
get 5-50 spams a day. You will find this very annoying over time as it will become difficult to tell
what email is "good" and what is spam. 

5. How has InterCape decided to deal with spam ? Why can't you just block spam and prevent me 
from seeing it? 

It is very difficult to have a computer system automatically tell with 100% certainty whether 
or not a given email message is spam. So if it makes a guess and rejects the email there is a 
small chance that "good" messages will get blocked. With a server that deals with thousands 
of messages a day that small chance becomes many good messages rejected. This creates 
frustration, and lost time and energy for everyone.

InterCape has decided the best solution is to tag the message as spam in the mail headers and 
subject line and let it come through. 

This does several things.
- Good messages will not get blocked.
- The decision to view a given email is left up to the person it was addressed to.
- Provides a method by which the customer can set up "mail filtering" so that the spam can be sent 
to another mail folder in their email software and they or their children will never have to view it.
- Spammers can no longer can tell whether or not we are blocking their messages so they cannot 
retaliate by flooding our server or trying new aggressive ways to get by the blocks plus other 
devious tactics. 

6. How do these new spam filters work? Will my own messages ever get tagged as spam?

They work by testing the message and looking for many very common signs that the message is spam.
Additional checks are also done such as testing the sender domain name and mail server for validity plus 
consulting with various Internet blacklists and special servers that catalogue spam. Over 25 different tests
are done on each message going through the server.The message is then scored and if it gets a high 
enough score the message is tagged. Only messages coming in are tested so your own email will never 
get spam tags by accident.

7. How do I use these new filters to avoid spam appearing in my inbox?

You set up what is called a "mail filter" Most modern mail software comes with this ability.

8. How do I set up a mail filter?

It is very easy to do. However there are many email software clients out there and they each have 
their own instructions for doing this so we cannot easily explain this in this email. 

click here for:
How to setup a mail filter in Outlook
How to setup a mail filter in Outlook Express

A quick summary :

You should open your email software and go to help on the top menu. Then look for the word 
"filtering" under "index". Or search for a topic called "filtering".

For Outlook, you should set up a filter that checks the email headers for the word: 

X-Spam-Status: Yes,

For Outlook Express, you should set up a filter that checks the subject line for the phrase:

POSSIBLE SPAM

Exactly written as above. You should then have this sent to your deleted mail or junk folder or 
a separate folder if you wish to check and make sure no good mail got tagged.

9. What if I do have good email that gets tagged?

If its mail you get a lot you can set up the filter to ignore certain "from" email addresses and 
deliver these to your inbox instead.

10. This is all so confusing. Why do I have to go through all this to avoid spam?

Because the issue is very complex and we do not want to block "good" email. The majority of our 
clients are asking us to do something about this issue. It is very bad when a customer or their 
child gets an explicit pornographic spam. A lot of clients hold us directly responsible. The truth 
is this problem needs to be ultimately solved through legislation and some states already have strong 
spam laws. However nothing has been done on the national level yet. There is much information on the
Internet about this. Just use your favorite search engine and search for the word "spam".

11. I got a good email that was tagged as spam, what does this mean? Is this spam tagging accurate?

The spam tagging right now is 95-99% accurate. As a rule you will find it tags all spam plus a few
good ones every now and then. Overtime it will get more accurate as we tweak the system so there
will be less good email tagged. This is very complicated so please bear with us. The system will get
better over the next couple weeks.

Good email that gets tagged will usually (but not always) be one of the following: 

-promotional announcements from companies you have done business with.
-messages from other providers who have mis-configured mail systems.
-messages with blank from addresses or future dates plus other unusual qualities.

12. If I get a good email that was tagged as spam what should I do? Should I contact you?

Just ignore it. If you reply to a good email with the warning tag just delete the spam warning from 
the subject line before you send it so the person you send it to does not get confused. 

But if you know how to send the "email headers" you can send the entire message with headers 
to goodemail@intercape.com. We will look at these and they will help us tweak the system so that
they are no longer tagged.

13. I don't like this subject tagging... can you stop it?

Not at the moment but we are working on ways to allow custom settings for each customer. If you strongly
object to us tagging your email send an email to admin@intercape.com and we will put you on a list
so that when we are able to we will stop it from happening.

After you receive this email we will be shortening the subject tag to "Possible SPAM!-" from
the current: "WARNING!!! (from InterCape) POSSIBLE SPAM!->:" since you should now understand
better what is going on. In the future we may need to alter the subject line tag or get rid of it all together
since there is an additional tag in the hidden part of the message (see 8 above) that can be used instead 
for filtering.

14. Can your tech support help me set up a mail filter?

First, refer to the online instructions that include screenshots:
How to setup a mail filter in Outlook
How to setup a mail filter in Outlook Express

If you still have questions or problems, you may contact tech support.

If you are using a different email program (such as Eudora or Netscape, etc), refer to your mail program help files.
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If you have any problems or questions please contact info@intercape.com for assistance.

Best Regards
InterCape      

 


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Copyright 2006

Phone: 508.322.1984
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