Evict the Spammers from Your Inbox

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Spam, commonly defined as unsolicited commercial email, is a powerful advertising channel for many products and services. As a result, spamming has become a profitable business, driven by the low cost of sending email compared to other direct marketing techniques. The high return on investment for spammers has resulted in an overwhelming volume of unwanted messages in personal and business email boxes. Consider this: Conducting a direct mail campaign costs an average of $1.39 per person, meaning that a response rate of 1 in 14 is necessary just to break even on a product with a $20 gross profit. Selling the same item via unsolicited spam email costs only $0.0004 per person, meaning that a response rate of 1 in 50,000 gets the seller back to break-even; anything above that is gravy. With profit margins like these, it’s easy to see why spammers will try anything to get past anti spam technology to deliver their messages to your inbox.

Types of Spam Threats

The recent onset of fraudulent spam variants such as phishing and spoofing pose an even greater risk than the spam volume clogging email servers. Spammers use techniques such as phishing and spoofing to fool users into divulging sensitive information to sites that, at first glance, appear innocuous.

Phishing is a specific type of spam message that solicits personal information from the recipient. Phishers use social engineering techniques to fool end users into believing that the message originated from a trusted sender, making these attacks especially dangerous because they often con victims into divulging social security numbers, bank account information or credit card numbers. In one six-month period, phishing attacks increased in frequency by 4000%, and the trend continues upward.

An example of phishing is an email that appears to come from a bank requesting that users log into their account to update or correct personal information. When the users follow a link embedded in the email, they are redirected to a site that looks and behaves like the expected bank website. However, unbeknownst to the soon-to-be identity theft victims, the site is actually controlled by the scam artists who sent the email, and all information entered by the victim can now be used in a variety of ways, none of which are good.

Spoofing is a deceptive form of spam that hides the domain of the spammer or the spam’s origination point. Spammers often hijack the domains of well-known businesses or government entities to make spam filters think the communication is coming from a legitimate source.

Today’s spammers are more crafty than ever before and have begun blending elements of both phishing and spoofing into their messages, further spinning their web of deception. The toxic combination of spoofing and phishing presents a major threat that can trick most anyone into providing personal information to a stranger.

Toothless Legislation

On January 1, 2004, President Bush signed into law the “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003,” or “CAN-SPAM” Act. While well intentioned, CAN-SPAM has done little or nothing to curb the flow of unwanted email. While CAN-SPAM was designed to decrease the overall volume of spam, the exact opposite has happened: spam accounts for more than 75% of all email traffic, and phishing attacks continue to increase exponentially.

Anti Spam Software for the Desktop

The dramatic increase in spam volume has prompted a corresponding surge in stand-alone anti spam software solutions for the desktop, all with varying levels of effectiveness. Some anti spam software uses text filtering to screen incoming messages for known characteristics of spam, while other solutions rely solely on reputation systems that monitor and categorize email senders by IP address according to their sending behavior. Still other anti spam software uses “challenge/response filters” to block unapproved mail until the sender responds (manually) to a challenge email sent to their email account to verify his or her identity.

With so many different methods of filtering spam, no single software-based desktop anti spam solution is capable of effectively stopping spam before it reaches the inbox. The only way to successfully fight spam is to create an anti spam “cocktail” including reputation services, text filters, constant updates and a host of other best-of-breed spam blocking methods. Just as importantly, an effective anti spam solution should reside at the email gateway, not at the desktop.

Take a Consolidated Approach to Anti Spam

Although it takes a person only a moment to process a message and identify it as spam, it is difficult to automate that human process because no single message characteristic consistently identifies spam. In fact, there are hundreds of different message characteristics that may indicate an email is spam, and an effective anti spam solution must be capable of employing multiple spam detection techniques.

In addition to effectively identifying spam, businesses must be assured that legitimate mail is not blocked in error. Even one false positive, or incorrectly blocked email, can have a significant impact on businesses today. Accurate spam blocking requires a combination of tools to examine various message criteria combined with real-time research and intelligence data.

By aggregating multiple spam detection technologies like text filtering, reputation services, traffic analysis and other best-of-breed techniques, and placing the solution at the email gateway in a hardened appliance, enterprises can retake control of the inbox.

SkilTech’s new email platform employs many of these techniques, resulting in a nearly spam-free inbox.  If you’re interested in upgrading to this new email technology, call (410-996-0040) or email us (info@skiltech.com) for more information.

Categories: Email, Spam

AdvantEdge Business Learning Solutions Launches New Website

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment

SkilTech is pleased to announce the launch of a new website project for AdvantEdge Business Learning Solutions located in Bear, DE.  AdvantEdge offers world class corporate universities, organizational development tools, cutting edge curriculum, and workshops.  Owner, Frances (Fran) D. Szabo, has a strong business background with more than twenty years in management at Fortune 100 companies and a passion and expertise for learning and change management.

Please visit the site at www.advantedgelearning.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Just Launched – 1401 Hair Designs and Massage Therapy

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s all about “the look.”  SkilTech is pleased to announce the launch of a new website project for 1401 Hair Designs and Massage Therapy located in Wilmington, DE.  1401 Salon provides a wide range of services including skin care, massage therapy, hair styling, and waxing. Owner, Joyce Bell, has been providing a relaxing day at the salon for nearly 30 years.

The new site has a more modern, sleek look and feel. Please visit the site at www.1401hairandmassage.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Referral Program, Facebook Contest Announced

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

SkilTech Computer Services is pleased to announce a new referral program, effective immediately.

Anyone who refers a new client will now receive a token of our appreciation in the form of a gift card!  Know a business in need of a website? Send them our way and you could be filling your gas tank on us, or eating at a favorite local restaurant!

We’re also introducing a second chance to win. “Like” SkilTech on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win a monthly drawing for a gift card to an area business.

Winners of the Facebook promotion will be selected at random from among our Fans.  You can’t win if you don’t “Like” us, so become a fan today!

SkilTech Adds New Services

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Elkton, MD — SkilTech Web Design and Hosting is no more.  We’re changing our identity to SkilTech Computer Services, effective September 1, to better reflect our expanded services.

While we’re still the people to see if you need a custom designed website or reliable, inexpensive web hosting, we’re now your regional source for home computer repair.  Beginning September 1, our technicians will be available for in-home service on your PC or Mac computer and peripherals.

“While there are a lot of companies providing computer repair services, it’s our belief that the home and home office market is under-served,” said John Skilton, President of SkilTech, Inc.  “The few companies that do provide in-home service are often very costly and focused on upselling additional equipment.  We won’t fix your computer and then try to sell you a washer and dryer.  Plus, we believe our pricing is more within the comfort zone of most consumers.”

Service hours can be scheduled on weekdays, but are also available on evenings and weekends.  The service area currently includes New Castle County, DE, Cecil and Harford County, MD, and neighboring sections of Pennsylvania.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 410-996-0040 or toll-free at 888-321-1762.

Categories: Uncategorized

Flash websites – The Good & the Bad

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

If you are planning on putting up a Flash website, or possibly doing a redesign with Flash, here’s some of the negatives that come along with it. Being educated about the type of web design you choose before you choose it is always a positive.

Bandwidth and Speed Limitations Unless the designer works very hard to optimize Flash most Flash applications and websites can be very large and slow to download. In many situations, the entire Flash site must be downloaded before it can be used. And while it is possible to add in graphical countdowns and other features to make the time pass more quickly, many people still won’t wait.

Usability is impaired One of the most important buttons on a Web browser is the back button. It is used all the time by most people browsing the Web. But a Flash site typically removes that functionality. When a customer hits the back button after delving deeply into a Flash site, s/he is taken back to the website they were on before they visited your site. Then if they return to your Flash site, they have to renavigate to where they were. Some people might be willing to do their work twice, but most won’t.

Accessibility is also impaired Because most Flash sites are based on images, and don’t generally have a lot of alternative text, they can be very difficult or impossible for a screen reader to read.

Search engines can’t read them either Search engine spiders are a lot like screen readers, they can’t parse images. Plus, many of them have trouble following links that are not standard HTML links – and most links in Flash are not in HTML – they are in Flash. Because of this, many Flash developers have a very difficult time getting their Flash sites to rank high in search engines. In fact, most Flash sites that do rank well, do so because they have two versions of the site – one Flash and one HTML. And then they have to maintain two copies of the same website.

Flash requires a plug-in While a large proportion of Web browsers have the plug-in pre-installed, the fact is that Flash does require a plug-in which some people and companies don’t allow.

Some people just don’t like Flash pages Similar to sound and animated graphics, Flash has developed a reputation among some customers as being more of an annoyance than a benefit to a Web page. This is especially true when the Flash serves no purpose other than to decorate a page – such as an animated banner or splash page. While these customers may be less common than those who don’t care, they are often more vocal and more likely to sway opinion away from your site if you use Flash gratuitously.

Jennifer Kyrnin – Web Design / HTML Guide


Categories: Uncategorized

SkilTech Launches Three More Independent Baseball Sites in May

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The month of May was a busy one for the SkilTech team as it brought on the start of the Independent Professional Baseball season for the our customers, the Can-Am League, Frontier League, and Northern League.

The 2010 season brought with it a new statistician for the leagues in the form of Canada’s Pointstreak Sports Technologies Inc. Along with the normal web development for the teams and leagues, we were tasked with integration of the Pointstreak stats system into each of the league web sites.

The Can-Am League (www.canamleague.com) and Northern League (www.northernleague.com) each launched a newly redesigned web site this year, as did the Pensacola Pelicans (www.pensacolapelicans.com) of the American Association.

Categories: Uncategorized