This was an article I found today at Red Tape Chronicles
The resurgence of spam is generating a lot of attention right now, so here's a quick explanation of what's going on, and what to do about it.
One reason spam is once again clogging up your inbox: Spammers have turned anti-spam technology against us right now. Many Web sites require users to create accounts by typing in a word or scrambled letters that appear in a graphic (and sometimes, that word is too hard to see). That technology is called CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. Web site designers employ this tedious process because it prevents spammers from creating millions of fake accounts -- it turns out to be a very difficult problem for computers to "read" images.
Frustrated by CAPTCHA, spammers turned the tool on its head. Now, about half of all spam comes as pictures, which are often impossible for computers to distinguish from snapshots of the grandkids. Image spam is the big reason your inbox seems out of control again. Similar to the problem of computer viruses, there is no simple solution for spam. Instead, it's a cat-and-mouse game between the bad guys and the companies trying to send us our e-mail but there are some things you can do to minimize your exposure to spam, and to help the institutions that are fighting it.
The first and most important step: Remove your e-mail address from any Web sites where it appears. Web "scraping" of addresses is still an effective tool for spammers. Don't make their job any easier. If you must post the address, turn it into an image and post that. You might as well use the techniques the spammers use.
Guard your e-mail address like your credit card number. Only give your primary address to people you trust. Create "junk" accounts for newsletters and Web sites that force you to log in with an e-mail address. When they get overrun with spam, discard them.
Also, when at all possible, don't open e-mail from people you don't know. Opening some spam automatically sends a message, sort of like a return receipt, back to the spammer. Now he or she will know you're a live person, and you'll never hear the end of it.