Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Outlook as a security risk

Disable E-mail Client’s Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam

A recent article on scam spam (e-mail) prompted a reader to send in this good question,

Hi Paul –
You wrote “don’t even open e-mail from unknown sources.. doing so can/will mark your e-mail address as a “live” person, …”.
How do we delete without opening a specific email message?   Even while deleting in bulk the first email in the highlighted selections opens.  I’m using Outlook Express.  Thanks for your help!

What is being referred to is the feature common to e-mail clients called the “Preview Pane”.

OE

Dear Reader–
You’re correct that most webmail settings, and e-mail clients, (by default) have what is called a “preview pane”, which opens the first (topmost/most recent) e-mail in your Inbox, and shows you the first few lines of the e-mail. Yes.. this will trigger whatever the spammers/hackers are using to verify receipt (such as downloading an invisible jpeg). Because of this, I always turn the Preview Pane off.
To do this in OE, click on the View menu and select Layout.
Then in the Preview Pane Properties, uncheck the “Show preview pane” checkbox.

BTW– by exploring Properties/Options/Settings/Preferences (different names for the same thing), you can disable the preview pane in every e-mail viewer.. Hotmail, Thunderbird, etc.

Tip of the day: While many people find the preview window a convenient way to skim their incoming mail, using it automatically opens your machine up to security risks (especially if you are allowing HTML, and/or images, as the OE pictured above does) and tells anyone who’s interested that yes, your.name@isp.com is a valid address.. suitable for spamming.

I advise disabling the feature, and doing without the ’speed enhancement’ of previewing. Doing so will reduce the amount of spam you receive, improve your privacy, and close the door on one of the methods hackers can use to infect your machine.
Trust me folks, you do not want to be on a spammer list.

Today’s free download: (For Mac) Evernote is the ubiquitous notetaking/data capture utility, and I was pleased to find it for Apple machines/devices. From site: “Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

February 14, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, privacy, security, spam and junk mail, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Managing your email: eliminating junk (repost)

Much to do and too little time, and so a reposting today.. though I am staying on the subject of e-mail. This is the season of spam, so these tips seem timely. 

I detest spam. Today, I’m going to tell you how to fight it.
And I don’t mean just the random mass mailings of the F@rmis_UtiCal come-ons. I mean unwanted newsletters a well-meaning friend signed me up for… that just won’t let me “unsubscribe”. I mean the “pass it on” jokes (which, allow me to take a moment and ask, does anybody ever find them funny???) and chainletters that some clown forwards to EVERYONE in their address book. I mean the “please take a survey” and “Win a free iPod…” come-ons. I mean the friend/relation who’s trying to convert your politics, and sends you official-looking kook propaganda from Kook HQ.. are you with me?

Tip of the day: Take a few steps and configure your machine to ‘filter’ out the garbage. The first thing to do is start “training” the spam filter that comes with your email account. If you use a free mail service, like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail — or your ISP’s — you can teach your mailbox what to filter (somewhat; it will never be perfect) automatically simply by using the “mark as spam” option or, in some services, the “move to” (and move the offending items to the Junk folder) tool.

If you simply delete the junk, the learning algorithms back at Hotmail Command will not be able to determine why you deleted it (maybe you’re done reading it?), and will make no improvements to your filtering. But if you mark it — this is spam! — notice will be taken of the Subject, Sender, and Sender URL, and that info will be analyzed for ‘spam patterns’. When enough people mark “Great Deal, Act Now!” from “Joe Blow” at “Shady Company.Com” as Junk and as spam — they will, first, mark all email from that source as “suspected junkmail” and deliver it to a different box than your Inbox, and then (and this is the point), with gathering confirmations, block it at the source, essentially putting Mr. Blow out of business (temporarily). Hitting “Junk” instead of “Delete Message” is a public service and, over time, will keep a cleaner Inbox.

The next step is to start working on your blacklist. This is usually done by clicking the Block Sender option. A “blacklist” is a list of senders, or sender URLs, that will not be accepted. An excellent first step is to add anything you receive from the Domain “.info” to your Blocked Senders list. Then add that newsletter that just won’t go away.
I will demonstrate with Hotmail, but these general steps apply to all email accounts… the names and locations of the Settings may be slightly different, but the principle’s the same. (If the Block This Sender option is presented, use it) Click on the mail Options button (in some cases, this will be called “Preferences”) mlopt.jpg and then you will be presented with a list of optional settings you can “tweak”, as shown below.
mlopts.jpg
In today’s lesson, we’re looking to out-and-out block a newsletter, so we’ll click on “Safe and blocked senders” (our “white” and “black” lists). Then click “Blocked Sender”.
bsndrs.jpg
As you can see, Hotmail Command has already blacklisted many senders. This is because enough people marked these folks (instead of just deleting) as junk mailers. You can also see how to block the newsletter I want to stop. I typed in annoyer@newsletter.com (or copy>paste the URL from a newsletter in my mailbox) and click “Add to list >>”.
This is actually a smarter way to deal with unwanted list-mailings than clicking on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the newsletter itself. Why? Because, while they’re required by law to post such a link, they’re in no way truly obligated to honor it (there’s no enforcement), and you are telling them that your address is valid (and thus valuable to other list users). Add as many junk mailers to this “black” list as you like.

Since there are more steps you can take — the technique described above is a good start, but not the end-all-be-all — to control what appears in your Inbox, I believe I will make this a series of articles, and stop here for today. [Addenda: and I did write a few more; to read them, click here.]

Today’s free link: Have some fun and add useful doohickies to your desktop with Yahoo Gadgets (formerly Konfabulator). From site: “The Yahoo Widget Engine is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather.”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

December 11, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, spam and junk mail, tech, Windows | , , , , , , | Leave a comment