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Challenging spam
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Undated-AP -- While lawmakers in Washington work on crafting a federal law to fight spam, a new technology is being touted as a foolproof way to block unwanted e-mail.

It's called "challenge-response." Consumer Reports senior editor Bill Apple explains that it sends a test to anyone who tries to e-mail you, to make sure the message is coming from a real person. The aim is foil the automated sending of junk messages.

The sender might be asked to finish a simple math problem or retype a word -- tasks that a spam-sending robot wouldn't recognize.

The method does have a downside. It will thwart messages from anyone who legitimately sends out mass mail, such as your bank or the airlines. You would need to pre-approve those senders.

EarthLink has made challenge-response an option for its five (m) million subscribers, and you also can adopt the technique by purchasing software such as MailFrontier's Matador.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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