SPAM emails are not just a nuisance. In addition to being annoying and time-consuming unwanted email is also becoming more dangerous to the security of your computer, your personal privacy, and integrity of your sensitive data. Millions of computer users are being neglected, and as a result, getting infected, spoofed, phished and tricked by spam emails every day, forcing the user to pay large fees to troubleshoot, clean and restore their PCs back to full working order.
There are 3 NEW dangers that Small Business must be aware of:
- An increase in hijacked and spoofed email addresses.
Spoofing means making email look like it came from your computer. Spammers have discovered new ways to make it appear as though their spam email is coming from YOUR email account. They can also disguise themselves as someone you know and trust by spoofing their account. Hijacked or spoofed accounts can send spam mail, and could result in having your email service suspended or terminated – all without your knowledge. That is why a solid anti-spam software will not only block inbound spam from coming into your inbox but also unauthorized outbound spam leaving from your server.
- An increase in virus-carrying spam.
If you accidentally open a spam email carrying a vicious virus you can end up with big issues ranging from the computer being slow or freezing, to more serious problems such as system crashes, data loss, identity theft, creating spam traffic, redirecting your web browser to unauthorized malicious websites, and more.
- Phishing spam.
A phishing email appears to be a legitimate message from a bank, vendor, friend, or other trusted source. The purpose is to trick you into giving confidential information such as bank accounts, social security numbers, passwords, and credit card information. You’ve probably already received an American Express, PayPal or bank spam email that said your account was going to be closed unless you verified your information. It then directs you to a very legitimate-looking website where you input personal information. In reality, this is a malicious third party that is going to steal and use your information to access your accounts and to open credit card accounts to steal money or misuse your identity, causing you major financial and possibly personal problems.
So what can we do about SPAM?
If you want a 100% way of getting a clean slate, you may want to change your email address; however, this action can be a major headache; it gets even more complicated if you rely on it to stay in touch with important business and personal contacts, and don’t want to risk losing any connections. But even starting with a new mailbox is only a temporary measure as spammers may eventually find new sneaky ways to get back into your inbox.
What can you do to reduce and minimize the amount of SPAM?
First – and it is absolutely critical – get a quality spam-blocking software installed. There are no government regulations in place to prevent or stop spammers, so every business must be responsible for their own anti-spam solution: you must have it in place as the first line of defense.
Next, you want to make sure you don’t set yourself up for spam list in the first place. Once you get on a spam list, it’s impossible to get off; “unsubscribing” often backfires as it proves to the spammer that your email still exists and is active, so even if one of them would respect your unsubscribe request, the theory is that your name will immediately get on dozens or more spam lists.
To reduce the chances of your email address getting on a spammer’s list, here are few simple preventative measures you can take that will go a long way in keeping undesirable spam out of your inbox.
1. Use a disposable email address.
If you shop online or occasionally subscribe to newsletters and resources that interest you, chances are you’re going to get spammed.
To avoid your main email address from ending up on their broadcast list, set up a free Internet email address (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) and use it when buying or opting into online newsletters. You can also use a throwaway email address when making purchases or subscribing to newsletters.
2. Pay attention to checkboxes that automatically opt you in.
Whenever you subscribe to a website or make a purchase online, be very watchful of small, pre-checked boxes that say, “Yes! I want to receive offers from third party companies.”
If you do not uncheck the box to opt-out, your email address can be distributed to other affiliate advertisers. To avoid this from happening, simply take a closer look at every online form you fill out.
While many reputable sites respect your option not to subscribe to their notifications, some of them automatically re-subscribe when you make additional purchase or selection, so pay attention to the checkboxes every time you use those sites.
3. Don’t post your main email address on your website, web forums, or newsgroups.
Spammers have special programs that can derive email addresses from websites without your permission. If you are posting to a web forum or newsgroup, use your disposable email address (review item #1 above) instead of your main one.
If you want to post an email address on your home page, use “info@” and have all replies forwarded to a folder in your inbox that won’t interfere with your main address – and don’t put your email address on copy, otherwise it would be a mute point.
4. Don’t open, reply to or try to opt-out of obvious SPAM emails.
Opening, replying to, or even clicking a fake (or real) opt-out link in an obvious spam email signals that your email address is valid, and more spam will start flooding your inbox.
The only time it is safe to click on the opt-out link or reply to the email is when the email was sent from an organization you are familiar with or do business with (for example, a company that you purchase from or a newsletter you subscribed to).
5. Create Inbox Rules to segregate SPAM.
Well, technically this tip does not minimize the amount of spam, but it gives you an ability to organize incoming mail in more efficient way, helping you to reduce time spent on managing spam.
Most email software allows users to organize their mailbox by using rules, such as Microsoft Outlook. You can segregate email by applying Rules when messages matching certain criteria arrive. Rules are always turned on and run automatically. You can use Rules to file messages from certain senders, or file, or delete email with certain words in the subject line. Read more about Microsoft Outlook Rules.
How To Stop SPAM From Taking Over Your Inbox
As we said earlier, modern spam presents a serious danger to your computer and your personal security. While the above tips will help some, the only way to permanently stop spam is to install an enterprise strength SPAM filter.
But beware! Not all spam blockers are created equal, and some can end up blocking important emails you want to receive and be a pain in the neck to manage. Your business may require different email and spam measures, where false positives are just as undesirable as false negatives. Let us help you select the most appropriate solution for your anti-SPAM and anti-virus needs.