SPAM 101: SPAM Prevention & Management

by Anonymous
It’s been reported that 95% of all email sent is spam. Considering that email is essential to doing business, spam is a nuisance to say the least. As a BlueTie user, you have taken the first step to managing your spam effectively as combating spam is a key focus for us. However, there are additional steps you can take to keep spam at a manageable level.  

This document will outline what spam is, why you keep receiving it, and how you can protect your Inbox from the diabolical forces of email spammers.

What is spam?
E-mail spam, also known as unsolicited bulk email (UBE) or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is the practice of sending unwanted e-mail message — frequently with commercial content — in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients.
Harvested address spam is the most common type of spam. Spammers use a computer system ('spider' or 'spam-bot') to check almost every Web site on the Internet (including yours). The 'spam-bot' looks on every Web page for an '@' symbol. When it finds an '@', it knows it has found an email address. It then captures the email address and adds it to the spammer’s database of harvested addresses.
E-mail spoofing is a term used to describe fraudulent email activity in which the sender address is altered to appear as though the email originated from a different source. Virtually any email address or domain can be spoofed.
Why doesn’t anti-spam software prevent all of the spam?
Most anti-spam software identifies spam by the following methods:
  • Blocking email from known spammer addresses.
  • Identifying obscene words in the email.
  • Identifying a form e.g. 'click here to buy this rubbish'.
  • Identifying certain sales/marketing or other flagged words. 

 

Many spammers have learned to beat these systems by:

  • Sending each individual spam email from a different address.
  • Utilizing images rather than text, so it can't be read by your computer
  • Including only a link in the email body, not a form. The link will redirect you to a Web site which contains the form.
Spam Prevention Steps
There are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of spam email you receive in your inbox:
 
  • Do not reply to, or forward long chain emails. Spammers often harvest the email addresses within the email’s history, knowing they are legitimate addresses. The same applies for links received in spam emails. Spammers often have multiple, unique pages on their web sites. Once you click on a link, it will determine that your email address is legitimate and active.
  • Create a generic, temporary address to use for any online activity such as purchasing and registering for websites/services. This is especially important when posting in discussion forums or any other public online location. Frequently delete and replace this email alias, effectively making you a moving target for spammers.
  • Only provide your email address to a trusted party. If providing your email address is optional, leave it blank. If it is required, use your temporary email alias.
  • Never unsubscribe from Spam that you receive. Unsubscribe Links within spam emails is a common way that spammers verify that an email address is valid and active. However, if you are receiving marketing emails from a known company (one you know you’ve provided your email address to) it is usually safe to unsubscribe. The general rule of unsubscribing is, if you don’t know the sender, don’t unsubscribe.
  • Never rely on free, generic email services to host your business email. Often, these companies make money by selling the email addresses of the mailboxes they are hosting.
  • Never sign-up for a service claiming to be a “Do Not Spam List”. Often, they are spammers who use this as technique to gather mass amounts of legitimate email addresses.
  • When publishing your email address on Web pages, don’t use the traditional user@domain.com format. Break up your email address so that automated scripts aren’t able to indentify your address on the website. Try spelling out the email address [ex., user (at) domain (dot) com].
  • Carefully read all online forms you fill out. Often, these forms will have opt-in boxes pre-checked, giving them permission to provide your email address to third-party partners. Ensure that these boxes are unchecked.   Also, when filling out these forms, look for a disclaimer explicitly stating that your email address will not be sold. Some companies may resell their users’ information to other parties (who may be spammers).
  • Use a spam filter. This may be the most important step and your most useful protection from spammers. Make sure that you are using your spam filter and that it is set up correctly.  If you are unsure or have questions, consult your Admin (if one is available).
  • If your organization has an IT department or an Admin, report any spam that gets through to your inbox to the correct persons. This way your IT department or an Admin can adjust the spam filters to reduce spam infiltration.