How to Proactively Handle Spam Email

Spam Email

Everyone has experienced spam, a commonplace inconvenience, but many people are unaware of the danger present with these viral emails. There are many solutions and CraftechRMS offers proactive clean up and prevention of messy spam. The best step is to learn more.

Proactively Handling Spam E-mail

The first step in stopping spam is to train your filter. When you find spam in your inbox, don’t just delete it, report it! Many email clients will have a button for that exact purpose. Gmail, for example, has the Report Spam button in their toolbar. The more you use this the better your client will become at recognizing spam from legitimate email. It is up to you to train the client. Make sure you never reply to these emails, never click a link or a button, or download any files that you remotely suspect are spam. Doing any of the following can lead to things like identity theft, and is one of the most common ways a machine can become infected with a virus.

How to Identify Spam Email

When trying to identify what is spam and what is not, you will want to look for an unrecognized sender, pay close attention to the sender’s email address because sophisticated attackers are able to spoof email addresses. This means the email address will appear to come from a trustworthy source to trick the recipient. For example, the spammer may change the name associated with the account to a familiar display name, but when you look closely at the actual email address (where the email was sent from), you will see that it is not. These emails often include phishing attacks that attempt to steal your personal information, we’ll go over types of spam after we identify what spam is.

Spam emails can be a request for you to enter personal information, any form of unsolicited advertisement, requests for money, or an offer that seems too good to be true. That can include an offer for an unbelievable loan or something like “Surprise you’ve won a million dollars.” If you do reply to an unfamiliar message and the sender offers to send photocopies of ‘certified’ documents to prove they are legitimate, or the sender repeatedly asks for personal information, these can be signs the email is spam.

Overall, if you feel like you are about to eat some questionable meat from a rectangular tin can, be wary.

Types of Spam Email

Now we’ll talk about the types of spam people receive. We have already covered some of this, but this is a breakdown of what they are. In other words, time for some examples.

Here are several types beginning with phishing scams, since they can be the most difficult to identify. They are designed to look like official emails from financial institutions or big companies like eBay and PayPal, but they actually direct victims to equally official looking scam sites. This tricks people into giving away their usernames and passwords, which are then used by the sender of the spam to hijack the real accounts.

Trojan horse emails have been around for a long time but are bad news. There will be an attachment in the email or something you must download in disguise. The most famous was the ILOVEYOU bug from 2000. An attachment sent out posing as an ‘I Love You’ letter. Once the attachment was opened, the users computers were infected with a virus from the file.

Email spoofing is more of a technique than a type of spam email and is relevant for all types of spam. This was covered, but as a reminder the message will appear to originate from a valid source. The email may contain an official looking header or have the name of someone you know as the sender. Be extra careful and look closely.

A big one to look out for is anti-virus spam. This will be an email or notification about your computer being infected and needing to be cleaned, or an offer for anti-virus software. In reality, it itself is a virus. If this happens, you should know that most companies, like Microsoft, never reach out for personal information. Use a search engine like Google to verify the legitimacy of software.

You may recall or have even received a “Nigerian 419 Scam” email. These are well-known and are usually an offer from some benevolent person, or a request for help from a destitute stranger. They are most often accompanied with a request for the wire transfer of money, and commonly Western Union. The money isn’t real, and the sad story is a lie. There is an in-between, but the point is do not accept or send money to a stranger.

Briefly, political or terrorist spam can appear to be from a politician claiming you are in danger. Check the news. Chain letters are generally obvious and annoying. Avoid continuing their life cycle, regardless of the content. Then there is pornography. That one should speak for itself.

At the bottom of the can, there are unsolicited advertisements. They can get pretty annoying because they tend to stack up and bloat your email account with unwanted solicitations and are often not for quality products.

Prevention Tips:

  • Check email account for a spam filter
  • Have two email addresses, one for personal use and one for pleasure
  • Avoid publicly sharing your email address
  • Check a site’s privacy policy before submitting your email

Solutions to Spam Email

Using a third-party spam filter is one way to stop spam from entering your inbox. Anti-virus software like AVG, Malwarebytes, and Symantec will often offer this as a feature. The most effective way is to take preventative measures by not sharing your email address unnecessarily, and to know what to watch out for. If you use a MSP, they will more than likely offer a filtering service and assist you with identifying spam, or in resolving any issues caused by these pesky, but serious, emails. We offer all of these services and more. You can easily reach Craftech here.

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