Email spam is something to learn to manage, it is not something we can stop completely, but it can be very harmful. Here are 15 actions to reduce email spam so you can get on with your day.
Most servers will identify and block spam they think is a risk but some will get through so it is important to be aware of what to look for and how to stop it.
Spam is designed to obtain financial gain, whether legitimate or illegal. Businesses should not be sending emails to your inbox without your consent, but this is happening.
How are some practical steps to take to reduce spam and ensure you don’t infect your PC or worse, hand over your personal information.
What are spam emails
In short, a spam email is an email sent to you without your consent. Someone has found your email address and is sending emailing you did not agree to receive.
Most of these emails contain marketing content but sometimes can contain malicious links, blackmail or content you would not want to receive.
Some well known organisations will start sending you marketing content when you hand them your email address even though you have not officially agreed to receiving emails.
Emails sent to you still need to comply with the law of what they send to you. The Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations 2003 (PECR) stipulate you must have consent to send someone an email, unless they are a customer.
The Information Commissioners office can investigate identifiable UK businesses sending spam and has partnered with organisations overseas, so you can contact them.
Unsubscribe from emails you do not wish to receive
If a business starts sending emails you did not agree to the first thing to do is unsubscribe. There should be a link at the bottom of the email.
The emails should stop, if they do not then write to the company to complain or write to the ICO to investigate.
I would suggest do not reply to the email you received, find the legitimate email on their website.
Email Encryption and Security
Accordingly to the EU, workers send out on average around 122 work related emails per day, under EU GDPR companies are bound by law to protect personal information.
Your mailbox can contain a lot of personal data that you are not aware of so its imperative your mailbox is secure.
The GDPR requires “data protection by design and by default,” meaning organizations must always consider the data protection implications of any new or existing products or services.
End to end encryption services are growing and cloud based encryption offers a strong technical solution.
Under GDPR data can only be stored an held for so long, then it needs to be deleted.
Under EU GDPR there are 6 rules of managing someones data:
- Consent must be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.”
- Requests for consent must be “clearly distinguishable from the other matters” and presented in “clear and plain language.”
- Data subjects can withdraw previously given consent whenever they want, and you have to honor their decision. You can’t simply change the legal basis of the processing to one of the other justifications.
- Children under 13 can only give consent with permission from their parent.
- You need to keep evidence of consent.
- You must have a “legitimate interest” to process the person’s data
GDPR also states – “against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organizational measures.”
The reason I refer to the EU GDPR is that the rules are a lot stricter and I have noticed a considerable increase in spam since Brexit.
Actions to reduce this type of spam
There are actions you can take to reduce this type of unwanted marketing email:
- Be mindful who you give your email address to.
- Keep personal and work emails separate
- i.e. do not do internet shopping using your work email, use Gmail or yahoo.
- Use a separate email for registering for things.
- Choose email address that can not be guessed
- some emails are coming to you from people who do not know your email address, they are guessing.
- Do not reply to spam emails.
- Use security on your computer and the server hosting the emails
- Use Junk/spam filter in Outlook or your email processor
- When signing up for something, look for a check box that has been automatically selected
- read it and uncheck it if you disagree with the statement.
- Marks Spam AND delete all spam emails
- Keep your inbox clean of all spam
- Do not forward anything to anyone unless you know exactly what you are forwarding.
- Make good use of Googles Captcha on websites with emails.
- Hide email address
- Check for spelling mistakes in emails, this will be spam, spam it and delete it
- Hover over the senders email to check where its from
Security threat spam to be aware of
Received an unwanted marketing email from Vodafone can just be deleted, but here are the spam emails you need to be aware of to handle with care:
Trojan horses come disguised as a legitimate program. Even if you think you know how to verify whether an email is legitimate, a trojan horse uses deception to get past those defense mechanisms.
For instance, they can hide inside free software downloads or arrive as an email attachment, possibly from someone you know.
When you open the email, the trojan installs malicious code — typically spyware or viruses — designed to create problems on your computer.
It may allow an attacker to control your computer, lock you out, steal your data, account information or email addresses. Installing anti-malware software may help you catch these trojans.
To help avoid trojan horses, avoid clicking on pop-up messages on your computer. If you are seeing a lot of pop-ups, consider running an antivirus scan.
Zombies are a type of malware that also comes in email attachments. They turn your computer into a server and sends spam to other computers. You may not know that your computer is compromised, but it may slow down considerably or the battery may drain quickly. Meanwhile, your computer may be sending out waves of spam or attacking web pages.
One way to avoid zombies is to avoid opening attachments or clicking links in emails from your spam folder.
Phishing emails are usually a copy of a real business such as a bank with the same branding as a bank, or they may look like a well known business. The phishing email will ask you to enter your details, but you are giving your details to a scammer.
The Vishers will request you call them on a phone number that looks very legitimate but is infact a scammer posing as the Bank and asking for your personal information.
Hover over the email of the sender or call the business directly to verify. Delete the email if you know its not legitimate.
If it is a Vishers, check and verify the phone number is legitimate.
If you don’t recognise the caller then let them leave a message then verify the phone number they leave at Text Magic.
Fake offers are a good way for cyber thieves to get you to take action. Who doesn’t want to win lots of money? Maybe the email says you have already won a prize.
You haven’t just won a car or £100,000 it is a scam.
If it is urgent it is a red flag as they are designed to make you take action.
For business emails your host provider will be monitoring and managing emails listed as spam, so many of them should not even hit your mailbox as they are blocked at the server firewall.
If they get through, then always mark a spam email as spam to prevent it from getting through again. Delete it from your pc.
Keep your mailbox free from spam.
Since leaving the EU the new UK GDPR rules are not as stringent on unsolicited emails but make sure you understand the new GDPR rules and if you see a sudden surge in spam emails in your work inbox then contact your host provider.
We use Cloudflare hosting service that blocks a lot of spam and the servers we use has a good firewall but some will slip through, be vigilant and have good security on your computers.
Malwarebytes offers a great computer scanner to find viruses and remove them.
If you are having issues then please get in touch and we will see if we can help you.