SPAM – Part 4

How To Be Proactive Against SPAM

In this, the final part of the series, we are going to look at ways to fight back, develop good habits and gain better control of our inboxes.

Never Respond To SPAM

If  you’re certain an email is spam before you open it, don’t open it. If you open it and then realise it’s spam, close it. Avoid clicking any link from a message that you even remotely suspect is spam.

If you opened a spam because it appeared to be coming from a friend or co-worker, contact them immediately and let them know that their account has been compromised and/or contact your service provider for assistance.

 

Don’t Open Suspicious Emails

Spammer’s new technique; collect email addresses by sending emails that contain a tracking pixel, typically a 1x1px image, that tracks whether or not an email was opened. If you open a spam email that contains a tracking pixel, the spammer gets a notification that the email was opened and now knows your email address is active. Even if you realise after opening the mail  that it’s spam and didn’t click any links in the email, it’s too late.

The best way to avoid having your email address captured in this way is simply to avoid opening emails from senders you don’t recognise.

However, that’s not always practical—an email from an unknown sender could be a potential customer, job offer, or other unexpected but important message. If you need to open emails from senders you don’t recognise, here are some ways to avoid getting your email addresses captured by tracking pixels:

  • If you use Gmail, try Ugly Email (free) and/or PixelBlock (free). Ugly Email is a Gmail extension that displays an eye icon next to any email that includes a tracking pixel. PixelBlock blocks tracking pixels, preventing notifications from being sent back to senders when you open a tracked email.
  • If you use Outlook 365, 2016, 2013, 2010, or 2007, images are blocked by default. Never ask Outlook to display images from senders you don’t recognise, and you should be safe from most tracking pixels.
  • If you use Outlook.com, images display by default. Currently this cannot be disabled. If tracking pixels are a big concern for you, consider upgrading to Office 365.
  • If you use Mail for Mac, images display by default, but setting is optional. With Mail for Mac open, click Mail and select Preferences. Then, click the Viewing tab, and uncheck the box that says “Load remote content in messages.”

Hide Your Email Address

It’s a sad fact; as more people have your email address, the more spam you’ll get. So keep your address as hidden as possible.

Unless it is necessary, don’t publish it on the web.  If it is necessary, use a disposable address for the purpose.

Use ‘burner’ email addresses when you’re required to enter an email address for subscriptions, trials etc.. Some examples of disposable email address providers:

  • Blur, (free). Burner Emails lets you create a custom, unique email address each time you need to provide your email address to a company. Each generated email address forwards the message you receive to your personal email account.
  • Spamex, (subscription). With Spamex Disposable Email Addresses you can safely provide a working email address to anyone and not have to worry about whether they will send you unwanted email or sell your email address to others.
  • Nada (free), provides users with a permanent junk email address and private inbox, so it’s a decent alternative to creating a junk email address. All emails sent to your account are deleted after seven days, and only you have access to your inbox. You can also create multiple inboxes on Nada if you need multiple temporary accounts.
  • Guerrilla Mail (free). If you need to send email from a temporary email address, use Guerrilla Mail. It allows you to receive emails at a temporary email address—each email is automatically deleted after an hour—and send emails from that address as well. However, sent emails aren’t necessarily private; they include your IP address in the subject line to discourage people from using the service to send illegal emails.

If you absolutely have to publish your email address online, at least write it in a nontraditional format (e.g., name [at] domain [dot] com). Humans can figure out what your email address, but it’s more difficult for scrapers , spiders , and crawlers.

Train Your Junk Mail Filters

All good email applications, and some web based email applications have their own version of ‘Junk’ mail filtering.

When a spam email makes its way into your inbox, never just delete it. Always mark it as spam. This is how the automatic spam filters learn to identify spam and filter it out.

Here’s how to mark an email as spam in the more commonly used email applications; Gmail, Outlook, and Mail for Mac:

  • In Gmail, check the box next to a spam email, then click the “Report spam” button.

  • In Outlook; older versions right-click on the spam email in your inbox and select “Mark as junk.” Newer versions in the Message tab, click ‘Junk’ as shown below.

  • In Mail for Mac, right-click on the spam email and click “Move to Junk.”

Change your email address

Email addresses that have been in use for several years can sometimes receive so much spam there may be only one option; to change your email address. This is a drastic option, but if you’ve responded to spam in the past or haven’t hidden your address, and are therefore overloaded with spam, it may be your only choice.

If your situation has reached the breaking point with old email accounts overwhelmed with spam, contact our support department and we will assist with the transition from an old account to a freshly minted new one.

With that we conclude our series on SPAM. We hope that the articles have been informative and useful. Please do leave any comments below.

Be vigilant, click safe!

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