September 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 2002 Current Issue
September 2002 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

Yes, you can prevent and control the mass of unwanted e-mail that floods your inbox

Spam, originally the name of a processed meat product in a tin can, has taken on a new meaning in the digital world. We are bombarded constantly with pop-up ads on the Internet, and our e-mail inboxes are inundated with unsolicited marketing messages.

This problem is compounded by viruses spread via e-mail. The following measures should help protect your computer from unwanted digital detritus.

The first step is to purchase and keep updated virus-detection software. Most of the latest versions have ad-blockers allowing users to drag the address of a pop-up ad to a trash can, where it will be logged and, conceivably, never seen again.

This usually works fine. However, I experienced a problem with one pop-up whose extension morphs; when I attempt to mark the new ad, the software tells me the location is already listed.

Getting off e-marketing lists is not easy. Often the link promising to remove you only verifies that yours is a valid e-mail address and promptly (and often illegally) adds you to a list available for sale or rent to anyone willing to pay the price.

When buying anything online, opt out of receiving information or special deals. Any time you enter personal information or verify your e-mail address at a site, you open yourself up to receiving marketing e-mails.

Always look for check boxes asking if you would like to receive e-mailed information. In many cases these boxes are already checked, and you need to uncheck them. Some are buried just out of view of a normal page display, so scroll down.

No matter how careful you are, some spam will make its way in. Many programs and services are available to help you corral the clutter.

" Norton Internet Security by Symantec ($69.95; is the one I use. It has all the blocking capabilities; it scans inbound and outbound e-mails for viruses; and you can tailor it for ad-blocking and more.

" MailMarshal from NwTech ( works on enterprise e-mail systems. It blocks spam using three methods: identifying trigger keywords and phrases; utilizing MAPS/RBL, a dossier of known spam sources maintained by NwTech; and domain-name blocking. A free evaluation version is available for downloading; pricing varies by operating system and number of users.

" Remove Me Now! ($9.95 per year; allows members to submit sources of unwanted spam, and Remove Me Now will get your name taken off the lists. The service also encourages e-marketers to run their lists against its membership list and remove those people before sending e-marketing messages. This is similar to efforts under way by the Direct Marketing Association (, where, for free, you can request the removal of your name from its members’ lists.

" SmartShield ( is a filtering software that contains a digital-fingerprints file of junk-mail sources and removes them from your inbox. It lets you define addresses and keywords to avoid; it also filters for adult-content and removes e-mail viruses. SmartShield starts at $39.95 for a one-year subscription for one e-mail address ($59.95 for a lifetime membership).

For the best protection, be diligent about where you enter your e-mail address. And be aware of how any site will use your information.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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