If it seems spam rains on your e-mail, here are two umbrellas

Spam Shot, still in beta testing, works hand-in-hand with your e-mail client's filters.
It operates like a virus program, creating a kill filter full of identifying data from
known spammers.


The program scans your e-mail header fields such as From, To and Subject. When it finds
something that matches your filter data, Spam Shot zaps the information into the trash.


As with a virus program, you must download updates to keep the filter current. This is
important, because spammers tend to spread and mutate like germs. If you know how to use
your e-mail filters, you can personalize your anti-spam list.


Spam Shot works with popular Microsoft Windows e-mail clients from Microsoft Corp.,
Netscape Communications Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and others. It won't work with Apple
Macintosh or Unix e-mail clients. Nor will it work with Windows mail clients that lack
filters or are configured for multiple users.


There are three levels of filter strictness. The most lenient level permits some spam
to get through but is unlikely to delete mail you do want to read.


The strictest level trashes most spam but might also delete legitimate messages. New
users should start at the lowest level and adjust the strictness based on experience.


To reset filter strictness, you must rerun the installation program. It took me only a
couple of minutes to run it from the Windows Start menu, and the contents of my filters
weren't affected by the change.


The problem with Spam Shot is that it treats the symptoms but not the disease.


The carriers are still out there hidden on the Internet. Spammers frequently change
header information to foil your attempts to block them from your mailbox. Even with Spam
Shot, keeping filters current is a never-ending task.


If trashing spam is too passive for your taste, then step right up to Spam Hater. It
lets you attack the source. It takes more time than Spam Shot but cuts the amount of spam
you receive and is immensely more satisfying.


Spammers use subterfuge to conceal their identities and e-mail addresses. Spam Hater
helps you identify the real address so you can get complaints delivered to the spammer,
postmaster and provider for disciplinary action.


It does this by analyzing junk messages and extracting a list of addresses and
postmasters to which you can send a custom message or choose one from a list. Or you can
attach a copy of the spam as evidence of the infraction.


Spammers also afflict UseNet newsgroups. They have special software to collect
addresses from new messages posted in newsgroups.


Spam Hater can analyze newsgroup messages to track down spammers, but there are just
too many of them to subdue without nuking the Internet and starting over.


But Spam Hater has tools to let you participate anonymously in newsgroups. Instead of a
real address, e-mail goes through an anonymous server with a dummy address such as
nobody@replay.com.


If you're really aggravated, Spam Hater will generate whois queries to track the sender
and trace-route queries to find the sender's upstream Internet provider. Many providers
will cancel an account if the customer is shown to be a spammer. You make the whois query
by e-mail, not online as you might expect.


Spam Hater supports more than two dozen Windows e-mail clients. Visit Net Service's
World Wide Web page for its list of clients.


I tested Spam Shot and Spam Hater with Qualcomm's Eudora Pro running under Windows 95.
Although Spam Shot was a beta version, I had no installation problems.


Neither Spam Hater nor Spam Shot is 100 percent effective. Some spammers disguise
themselves so effectively that even Spam Hater can't unravel the origins of their junk
mail. You might lose an e-mail message from time to time because the filters are
ruthlessly nonjudgmental. Despite its limits, any tool to help control the spam plague is
welcome.


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