Like most people, I'm fighting to survive the daily onslaught of unsolicited commercial email (UCE) and spam. Despite the naive and generally derisory efforts of governments, and the ineffective regulation they seem to think will solve the crisis, I get anything up to six hundred of these a day. Recently, and rather worryingly, I'm now hearing several people saying that "email is no longer a reliable method of communication". OK, so it was never "reliable" in the sense of being bullet-proof or secure, but this degradation in acceptance and increasing unreliability really should concern us all.
One saving grace for my own situation is that I recently upgraded to the latest version of iHateSpam. Regular readers will know that I started using this a year or so ago, but version 3 was struggling to keep up with the increasingly clever techniques that spammers employ to disguise their messages. However, I have to report that the performance of version 4 is absolutely stunning. So far (in a week of use) I've had no false detections. I use a combination of iHateSpam (set to maximum "sensitivity") plus Inbox Rules and the the built-in Adult and Junk filters in Outlook. Together they result in around 98% of all spam being detected and quarantined.
Of course, the obvious question is how long this will last, but it's great to be able to sort and handle my email in a fraction of the time it took previously. Maybe the forthcoming Microsoft add-ins for Outlook and Exchange will help? Who knows, we might even see some kind of regulatory or technical solution implemented by the people who run the Internet and/or by the major ISPs (but don't hold you breath).
One interesting comment I read somewhere was that, if the spammers have to try so hard to circumnavigate all the filtering and blocking that is employed against them these days, do they really expect that we'll greet a successful breakthrough into our Inbox with such pleasure or amazement that we'll actually buy something from them? It does seem that the people who are making money are the ones that actually distribute the spam, and not the people who are paying them to do it. Or perhaps there really are lots of people out there who happily send off their credit card details in the hope of becoming millionaires overnight...
The iHateSpam people also have a server version available now, which I'm tempted to try on my Exchange Server box. As usual, the fact that it's a server product means the price is ten times higher, and the minimum you can buy is a version for 25 mailboxes. As I've only got two mailboxes, I did ask the local distributor here in England if I could buy a "smaller" (and cheaper) version, but it seems not. Maybe, when the financial situation that most authors find themselves in at the moment improves, I'll splash out.