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Note: On 15 December 2003, a new anti-spam filter was introduced on UTORmail. Please visit for more information.

  1. What is SPAM?
  2. Why am I receiving SPAM?
  3. SPAM Prevention Strategies?
  4. Can't the University just block SPAM?
  5. Read more about SPAM

What is SPAM?
unsolicited e-mail on the Internet, the electronic equivalent of junk mail or unsolicited phone marketing. Most of the time, SPAM comes in the form of advertising or get-rich quick messages. Less frequently but often more volatile, is SPAM referring to pornography in varying degrees of explicitness.

Why am I receiving SPAM?
SPAM should not be confused with opt-in e-mail or permission-based e-mail. Some apparently unsolicited e-mail is, in fact, e-mail people agreed to receive when they registered with a site and checked a box agreeing to receive postings about particular products or interests. Easy to forget.

That said, eventually, everyone who has an email address will receive at least one SPAM message - it is not personal and you are not alone.

SPAMMERs are a very resourceful bunch when it comes to collecting email addresses. Many use "spambot" programs which search the Internet and harvest valid e-mail addresses on web pages, in Usenet newsgroups and in chatrooms. Lists of email addresses are often then sold to other SPAMMERs. Others might use automated tools to subscribe to as many mailing lists as possible, so that they can grab the lists of addresses, or use the mailing list as a direct target for their attacks.

SPAM Prevention Strategies?

There is no absolute, 100% guarenteed way to prevent or stop SPAM. The best you can do it to try to minimize volume by keeping your email address away from spammers. This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Avoid signing up for Internet games or posting to guestbooks or newsgroups using your primary e-mail address. Many people choose to get a free second e-mail account through one of several web-based mail services Hotmail, or Yahoo mail, and then use that address to sign up for games or promotions online.
  2. Do not reply to SPAM even if it has a "Remove me" note. Why? First, almost all spam is forged so replying to a spam with 'remove' will not even get there.  It is a waste of key strokes. In the few instances where the "remove" address is real, you will have just confirmed that your email address is alive and well. A SPAMMER will likely put you onto a special list of known "live" email addresses.  This list will be sold over and over again to other spammers.
  3. Unlist your UTORmail address from the on-line UTORmail directory. Go to
  4. If you are using Outlook Express or Netscape Messenger, you can set up filters to reroute SPAM to your Trash.

Can't the University just block SPAM?

Note: On 15 December 2003, a new anti-spam filter was introduced on UTORmail. Please visit for more information. The following information is now strictly historical.

The University's Academic Advisory Committee discussed the issue of spam on October 9, 2002. The following is an excerpt from the minutes,

"CNS has reviewed SpamAssassin. The program has approximately 200 rules that it applies to mail in order to rate it. UofT handles approximately 19,000 messages/hour, meaning that hardware and software would cost approximately $200,000 to monitor UTORmail alone. The committee unanimously opposed spending this amount of money on a solution that would be flawed at best. An education program informing the community of the costs vs. the benefits of a spam detector program would be preferable. Individuals and units that are hardest hit could install personal spam detector programs. CNS could negotiate site licenses and provide central support."

CNS is currently evaluating desktop PC (as opposed to post office) based tools that assist with managing junk mail.

Read more about SPAM

  1. SpamCop
  2. CAUSE
  3. EmailAbuse.Org

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