Spam Protection on the PC using Microsoft Outlook’s Junk E-Mail Filter

Microsoft Outlook’s Junk E-Mail Filter uses several factors to identify spam, including analysis of the content and how the mail is routed to you. You can further add your own local settings, as mentioned below.

It’s a good idea to check your Junk Mail folder regularly to make sure no legitimate messages are ending up there. If you see a legitimate message in your Junk E-Mail folder, you can restore it to your Inbox by doing the following:

  • Right-click on the message.
  • On the shortcut menu, point to Junk E-Mail, and select Mark as Not Junk.
  • Or just select the message and press Ctrl-Alt-J.

Junk E-mail Options

Microsoft provides five mail filters that can help. You can find them under Tools.

From the Tools menu, select Options.
On the Preferences tab, under E-Mail, select the Junk E-Mail button.
The Junk E-mail Options dialogue box will appear, as shown below.
Junk mail options

  1. Safe Senders is a whitelist. Any address added to this list will be considered a sender of legitimate mail. Everyone in your Contacts list is automatically included as a Safe Sender. Under the Options tab, you can also choose to automatically add everyone to whom you send mail.
  2. Safe Recipients is for messages that are addressed to a mailing list or distribution list. It’s a good idea to add any mailing lists to which you subscribe, as mass mailings are sometimes mistaken for spam.
  3. Blocked Senders is just what it says: mail from an address in Blocked Senders will always be treated as junk mail.
  4. There are two options under the International tab. You can block all mail coming from a particular country using the Blocked Top-Level Domains List. Just check the box for the country you’d like to block. If you don’t correspond with anyone from Russia, for example, you might want to block the RU domain.
  5. You can also block messages using foreign alphabets, using the Blocked Encodings List. Again, if you don’t know anyone in Russia, a message in the Cyrillic alphabet is unlikely to be valid. Just check the box next to the language you wish to block.

Using these tools, you can block nearly all unwanted mail.

Phishing Messages

There’s one more type of unwanted mail that’s harder to catch: phishing messages. Under Junk E-Mail Options, you’ll find two boxes: Disable links, and Warn about suspicious domain names.

Junk Mail options

We recommend you check both boxes. The first disables any “reply-to” link in the message. A “reply-to” can look like support@neu.edu but really direct your message to evildoer@bogus.net. The second checks for suspicious domains that look OK at first glance, like 1BM.COM or support_www.northeastern.edu. If you’ve checked these two options, you’ll be alerted in Outlook’s Infobar if a suspicious message is received.

The spammers and scammers aren’t going away, and some of their tricks are ingenious. If you have any questions about a message, please contact x4357 or help@neu.edu before clicking on the Reply button.

Posted in 2010 October IS Newsletter and tagged , , , .