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The word Spam, the first thought that comes to our mind is the chain of emails inside our inbox with eye catching subject and information about wonderful products sent by a user that you don’t recognize. These emails are considered nuisance, but not a threat unless you mess with the contents inside these spam mails.
According to a survey conducted by Sophos, a leading expert in security, United States (24.2%) send out more spam than any other country. The other countries include China (6.2%), France (6.7%), Russia (5.1%) and the list goes on. None of these countries encourage spamming or are without any rules to take strict action against spammers. The spammers always fight back by using ghost ids and change server location frequently.
What is email spam?
Email spam or spam mails are electronic unsolicited messages send to your email address which are mostly commercial in nature and may also carry malicious contents.
Spam mails are considered more of a nuisance than dangerous. Considering the effort to identify genuine from spammy content and the time spent deleting these spammy mails makes it nuisance.
Some mails contains dangerous links, content or script that can turn dangerous depending on how users interact with the contents.
Dangers of Spam Mails
- Spam mails carry malicious download
Spam mails are often equipped with small attachments which looks like a zip file, a picture or document. If the user download the file and click on it, the malware program is activated. Once the malware is installed, the malware programmer or hacker on the other end can use this malware to spy and extract information about the unsuspecting user.
- Spam mails are used for Phishing
Spam mails are the main source of phishing attacks. A spam mail may ask an unsuspecting user to reveal sensitive information such as social security number, credit card details and other personal details. These spam mail achieve this by including interesting subject line and make it look like coming from authorized sources.
For e.g. Assume you got a message from [email protected] Did you notice there is something wrong in the email address? Check the sender address closely, it is not Symantec, but symntec. Most users fail to notice the mistake and trust these mails believing this mail came from the security experts Symantec. Hackers exploit this trust. Once the trust is earned, they will start asking for your social security numbers or credit card details to make certain changes. Once this information end up in their hands, it can be used for financial exploitation.
- Spam mails waste bandwidth space
Spam mails consume lot of bandwidth. This is bad length if you are under download limitations.
If all the ISPs around the globe are able to stop spam mails, it will help them save a lot of bandwidth which lead to increased speed. The overall internet speed all over the globe will increase drastically.
How to reduce or prevent email spam
In reality, I don’t think Spam can ever be stopped. But there are certain things that can be done to reduce the number of spam emails coming into your inbox.
- Do not open spam mails
The first rule is obviously do not open and reply to spam mails. Even if you open an email, do not download or click on any links. Also, never reply to these spam mails.
- Never download or click on any links inside email Spam
It is common that even experts break the first rule. Even when it is recommended not to open spam mails, users are still tricked into opening these mails using attractive headlines and offers. In case, if you open such mail, try not to open any link or file.
Spammers has evolved over the time and capable of using different tricks to manipulate viewers to click on a link. Even an innocent looking text file, document, presentation, image, video, screensavers etc. are capable of carrying malicious code which can be used to infect your device.
- Never try to stop email spam using unsubscribe link
Every mail list, genuine or spammy carries a link inside to unsubscribe from the subscriber list. If you find a particular mail spammy, it is recommended not to unsubscribe the mailing list. Clicking on unsubscribe list is in a way confirming that your email address is active and you received this mail. The webmaster may not send you any more emails from the same id, but he may have multiple accounts which is used to send more mails. Also, active email lists are very much in demand in market. The spammer can earn by selling this email.
A better option instead of unsubscribe, is to add the email to block list without opening the spam mail.
- Do not reveal you email address publicly
It is alright to submit your email address to genuine websites. But never publicly show your email address. For e.g., some users enter their email address in YouTube comment section so that the target person can see your email id and contact you. By doing so, the email owner is exposing that email id to the world of spammers. Spammers have specialized bots and crawlers created for the purpose of continuously crawling websites and harvest new email addresses.
Website and domain name owners should also be careful about revealing email address publicly on their websites.
A solution is to use scrambled texts in a way to reveal your right email id to humans, not the bots. For e.g, instead of entering your email [email protected], use johndoe at atechjourney dot com.
- Use a disposable email address:
One of the main sources of spam emails are from e-commerce sites constantly sending offers about new products and offers. If you frequently get these emails and find it nuisance, dedicate a separate email for receiving these types of mails.
- Use Anti Spam tools
There are plenty of Anti-Spam tools available in market like Spamihilator, Spam Assassin, MailWasher Free, CleanMail HomePaid etc. Some of them are free and some paid tools. Paid tools may not necessarily be the best, but most of them carry additional features and are more effective.
Some ISP also provide email filters. Check with your ISP, if they have spam filtering software. You may have a subscription fee.
Once installed, you will not receive any blacklisted emails inside your inbox. However, be careful. You may find some of your whitelisted emails inside junk folder. You will have to check them as “Not Spam” to make sure it will be delivered inside inbox next time.
- Do not threaten spammer
Spammers also have their rights. Within certain terms and conditions, what they do is legally allowed. By threatening a spammer, you are exposing to legal action. Also, it is not practically always possible to take legal action against spammer. Most of them are ghosts and you may never know from which part of the world they are from. Starting a conflict might expose you to more spam mails.
Hope you find this article useful. Use the comment section for feedback.