Spam emails are a pain. They impede your mailbox and can cause serious security damages to your website or devices. More than 300 billion spam messages are sent every day, threatening users with a malware infection.
So, can you ever get rid of them?
The truth is, you can’t eliminate spam emails 100%. What you can do is reduce the number of spam you receive. Today, we’ll discuss multiple preventive measures that you can apply to stay secure.
What is Spam?
Spam, or junk mail, is an unwanted message sent to an individual without their consent. These messages are usually sent in bulk to different email addresses for advertising purposes or more sinister goals like phishing and identity theft.
How Do Spammers Find Your Email Address?
Spammers use several methods to obtain your email address. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Harvesting: Mailing spammers use bots to harvest websites on the Internet for email addresses. These bots operate in a sophisticated manner, focusing mainly on the most popular telltale sign “@”.
- Random generation tools: Yes. Mailing addresses can be randomly generated like usernames and passwords. Spammers take advantage of software tools designed for that purpose to get lists of addresses.
- Your email is visible on social media platforms: Many users list their email addresses publicly on their social media accounts, making them sitting ducks for spammers. Posting your email in public comments and posts will also make you a target for spammers.
- You have a common email address: Using guessable words and common names in an email address makes it easy for spammers and their tools to predict it and attack it.
- Giving away personal data to insecure websites: Providing sensitive credentials and information to suspicious websites is a gateway to spam and other malware.
Why is Spam Dangerous?
As previously mentioned, spam mails can be used for commercial intent by companies and online services as part of their marketing campaigns. In retrospect, trustworthy services don’t turn to spam to promote their business. In some cases, when you receive a spam message from a legitimate source, it most likely indicates that it’s been compromised.
You should also be concerned about malicious spam emails sent out by cyber attackers to steal personal information. These messages almost always contain infected links or files. Attackers tend to disguise themselves as a legitimate entity and ask you to click on the link to be directed to a fake website or download the file attachment to install malware on your system.
7 Ways to Protect Your Email from Spam
Despite the fact that spammers are constantly trying to find new tricks to launch spam attacks, there are some effective precautions you can take to protect your mail.
Don’t Give Out Your Email to Anyone
It’s always safer to treat your email address like you treat any of your personal information such as your social security number. Only give it out to necessary contacts or important business contacts. This way only a limited number of people or contacts will have your email address which will greatly decrease the chance of receiving spam emails.
Another useful idea is if you need to access a website but it requires providing your email address to do so, you can always use a throwaway email. This is a fake email address that you can generate for free from certain websites made for such purposes.
Create Different Email Addresses for Different Purposes
If you need to subscribe to different online services, create an email account for this purpose that’s separate from your personal email. In addition, separate your work email from your personal email. In other words, it’s not recommended to use a single email for everything you do online.
Even though this won’t limit the number of spam emails you receive, especially on your publicly used email account, if one email gets affected, it won’t impact your other accounts. The single account can then be dealt with separately.
Use Email Filters
Today, many email service providers offer you the option to filter out emails to avoid spam. It’s up to you to turn this feature on and customize the filter to block out any unwanted emails or potential spam.
Some providers even warn you when you receive an email that its source is not known and so it could be a spam email. Others redirect the spam emails (when the filter feature is turned on and customized) to the junk folder or even to the trash folder.
Customizing these filters includes blocking out emails with specific headlines, content, or from specific sources.
Don’t Click on Unknown Links
If you ever receive an email from an unknown or suspicious source with a link included in it, it’s most probably a spam email. If you click on that link, this can be a gateway for the spammer to cause more damage.
Clicking on the link can lead to more spam being sent or malware downloaded on your computer.
Block Accounts that Send Spam Emails
Learning from our mistakes is one of the best safety measures we can take regarding spam emails. If you keep receiving spam emails from a specific account or service, then you can simply block these email addresses through the settings of your email account. This will prevent you from receiving more spam.
Don’t Reply to Spam Emails
Some spam emails require you to reply as a confirmation that you received them or you may want to reply to a spam email to request that they stop sending you or to just let some anger out. In all cases, you should never respond to a spam email as this can have multiple negative outcomes.
If you respond, the spammer will know that your account is active and add your address to every mailing list which will lead to receiving much more spam emails.
If All Else Fails, Create a New Email Account
If you tried out all the previous ways and you’re still receiving a lot of spam mails, then you can consider creating a whole new email account to replace the compromised one.
We understand that this doesn’t sound very convenient but, we highly doubt that all the above ways will fail. Consider this your last contingency plan.
Even though the rate of spam generation isn’t slowing down and spammers will always get in the way of email transfer, you’ll find different ways to defend your mailbox. By applying the discussed safety techniques, you’ll be more aware of spam traps and able to avoid them