Email Spam

Email Spam ExampleWhat is Spam?

Spam is today defined as unsolicited commercial email – mail sent to get you to buy software, medications, personal enhancement products, computers, movies, etc. that you did not request.

Spammers use slick commercial software packages to send spam. This allows them to send spam to hundreds of thousands of people at the click of a button, without even knowing who those people are.

Questions and Answers

How did they get my email address?

Spam programs use various methods to find out your email address. You don’t have to have posted your address on the Internet – or, in some cases, even have used it – for it to be targeted for spam. These programs do a lot of guessing – they’ll mail to common first and last names and random combinations of 2-3 characters at every domain they can think of. They search through online directories and extract all the email addresses therein. They do web page searches and pull addresses off of these. When combined with viruses, they actually suck addresses out of the address book of the person whose machine they’ve infiltrated. In some cases, they are able to observe transmission information to obtain lists of mailing list subscribers and high mail users.

What can be done?

The picture sounds bleak, but using the many techniques to combat spam, you can enjoy a relatively undisturbed inbox. Find out what OIT is doing to fight spam and what you can do to filter out these messages.

What is UCI doing about spam?

Block Known Spammers

We block known spammers from sending email to UCI. We reject connections from mail servers that are listed on a particular set of “Remote Block Lists” (RBLs). This list is maintained by a widely respected non-profit organization. Anyone sending from a RBL listed server will not be able to sent to UCI and will receive a “failed delivery” message. This message also includes instructions about how to get off the list. If someone has been improperly listed, he will be made aware of the problem and have an opportunity to fix it.

Spam Filtering

OIT checks incoming email to try to determine if it is spam. We have two methods to help you filter spam from your Inbox into a separate folder. (See “What I can do?” below.) No automated technique can determine with 100% accuracy if a message is spam. Check your spam folder regularly for legitimate messages that were incorrectly marked as spam, as well as to delete the actual spam.

How much spam is being blocked at UCI?

Every year, UCI blocks more than 500 million spam messages. These messages never reach your Inbox.

What can I do about spam?

Spam Filtering

To take full advantage of campus anti-spam efforts, you must set up spam filters to move messages marked as spam from your Inbox to a spam folder. No automated technique can determine with 100% accuracy if a message is spam. Check your spam folder periodically for legitimate messages that were incorrectly marked as spam, as well as to delete the actual spam.

MailBox Services – My Email Options

To take full advantage of campus anti-spam efforts, you must set up spam filters to move messages marked as spam from your Inbox to a spam folder. No automated technique can determine with 100% accuracy if a message is spam. Check your spam folder periodically for legitimate messages that were incorrectly marked as spam, as well as to delete the actual spam.

This feature is available to you if:

  1. You use MailBox Services, AND
  2. You use Webmail to read your email, OR
  3. You use an email program that receives incoming mail from “imap.uci.edu”.
Setting Up “My Email Options” to filter spam.
  1. Login to My Email Options with your UCInetID and password.
  2. Click the Spam Filtering tab.
  3. Turn ON the spam filter with the Default or Strict settings.
  4. Click the Submit button.
  5. Spam will now be filtered to a special “spam” folder. You may need to “subscribe” to this folder if your email software does not do this automatically. OIT will automatically delete filtered spam older than 3 months.

Advanced Spam Filtering

If you want greater flexibility in setting your spam filtering, you will need to configure your email program to use UCI’s spam filters. Some email software allows you to create filters or rules to automatically move messages flagged as spam to specific folders or to delete them. Use the directions below to set up rules using UCI’s SpamAssassin.

How do I report spam or phishing to OIT?

OIT has a special email address to report spam. Please use our detailed instructions to correctly forward suspicious email to OIT for analysis so we may work to block these spam messages from campus.

I am still getting too much spam.

Have you set up spam filtering, either through “My Email Options” or through “Advanced Spam Filtering”?  If you have set up filtering, you may want to either change your option to “strict” in “My Email Options” or fine tune the advanced spam filtering settings. If you need more help, contact the OIT Help Desk at (949) 824-2222.

Someone tried to send me email, but got a 'failed delivery' message.

Our mail system will reject connections from mail servers listed on a particular set of “remote block lists” (RBLs). The RBLs are lists of identified spammers, maintained by a third party. Anybody sending through an RBL-listed server will be unable to deliver mail to UCI. Please note that the sender in such cases will receive a “failed delivery” message which includes instructions on how to get removed from the RBL. Therefore, in those relatively rare instances in which the sender’s server has been improperly listed, they will be made aware that the mail they sent was not delivered, and will have an opportunity to fix the problem.

Please note that UCI relies on a well-known, widely respected RBL operated by a non-profit organization called “spamhaus.org”. Anybody listed on that RBL will have trouble sending email not only to us, but to thousands of other sites using the same list.