Ever had an inbox overflowing with emails where there was actually nothing useful? Ever lost an important mail in an ocean of emails you don’t even know how you ended up receiving? Spamming is a common and very serious issue in this day and age. Email is one of the most economical forms of advertisement, and companies use it to keep you informed about every tiny detail and update, even when you don’t want to see them at all. However, all this may be not so harmful. The biggest nuisance is the frauds out there trying to fish for your hard-earned money using the same technology.
Not only is spam unwanted and unnecessary, but it also takes up valuable space in your inboxes and even plays a major part in cyber attacks. Nevertheless, no need to worry; we, in this article, are going to provide you with everything you need to know in order to protect yourself from these pains in the neck.
What is spam mail?
In plain terms, a spam mail or junk mail is any email that you did not give your permission to seeing in your inbox. Usually, they are sent in bulk by companies to everyone in their contact list regardless of the recipient’s personal identity or context; which fill up your inbox. Hence, the name-calling.
There are several types of email in your inbox which are considered to be spam, some of which are downright harmful to any vulnerable information of yours over the internet:
- Phishing: These are “spoofs” of genuine emails – as in, fake emails pretending to look like real ones. In the most common cases, these kinds of email try to generate a sense of urgency or panic in order to extract confidential data like phone number, bank information, passwords, address, or credit and debit card details.
- Malware: Malware is a harmful software program designed to gain access to and then steal or delete the data on your computer. These can even modify the core functionalities of your system itself and track all your activities. You generally fall, a victim of these, if you allow a suspicious website to download files.
- Malicious mobile apps: Not all apps are trustworthy, even if they are found on the Google Play Store. There are some pernicious apps which if downloaded and given permission to view phone details, can copy and steal all data on your phone.
- Insecure websites: You must have come across links to websites which lure you with lucrative offers which sound too good to be true. That’s because they are, trust your gut. Sometimes clicking on a website can lead to surreptitiously making your webcam, your computer data, and/or your passwords exposed to a hacker.
- Repeat sales emails: These are the least vicious on the list, annoying all the same. These include all those mails pushing you to subscribe to newsletters, purchase certain items etc. Their entire effort goes into trying to make you click on their link and convert you into a customer.
How do spammers get your email address?
They say if you keep making an effort, one day you will be successful. That is exactly what hackers do to find your email address and then spam you; although they may not take too long to be successful at this job. Here are some of the techniques they use:
- Actively scanning the web for @ sign: Every email has this and that makes it easy for hackers. Cybercriminals use sophisticated tools to scan the internet and collect email addresses from everywhere.
- Simply guessing, just being good at it: Hackers generate common usernames randomly and match them with common domains. Guess what, in most cases, their guesses turn out to be right!
- Tricking your contacts: Even if you are cautious, all the people whom you ever have had any email exchanges with may not be. Spammers can steal your friends’ contact lists to find you.
- Buying lists: Cybercriminals can buy lists legally or illegally from the websites you have signed up for.
- Dishonest newsletter services: Sometimes hackers send “you have joined a newsletter” in bulk to randomly generated email addresses. Once you click on the link to unsubscribe, you confirm the existence of your email address.
How can you protect yourself against spammers?
While there are ways for smart hackers to contact you, there are ways to outsmart them as well. Here are some techniques you can follow to avoid being phished by these internet pests.
Maintain a healthy scepticism about all emails:
Do not reply to emails, do not click on any links, and definitely do not share your passwords, bank information, or any kind of confidential information unless you are absolutely sure about the credibility of the sender of an email. Make sure to double-check the source of the website link at the times of transaction of money.
Train your filters:
Most email clients have a “report spam” option as well as a “spam inbox”. If you have a suspicion about an email, before deleting it, report it as “spam”. This helps the email client automatically sort your emails, flagging the ones from the particular sender as “spam” in the future.
Use extra-spam filter:
If you feel the situation is out of hand and your inbox is brimming with a lot of spam emails despite every effort, using a third-party anti-spam filter is considered a good idea.
Use antivirus software:
Most email clients today include an antivirus check for emails and their attachments, but if that is not the case with the email client you are using, there are a bunch of authentic and effective third-party antivirus software available, like – Avast, Norton, Kaspersky, AVG etc.
Never trust emails trying to alarm you:
Unless you are sure that you know the sender, do not be so naive to trust an alarming email even when it is asking for money for the recovery of a cancer kid. Most of the time your antivirus software will notify you about the maliciousness about the email; however, even if it doesn’t, stay sceptical, stay safe.
Be careful with posting your email ID:
- Do not give out email address and other details to websites unless absolutely necessary and you trust the website.
- Do not use the same email everywhere, as it is bound to attract unwanted traffic.
- In case you have to give out your email, a good idea would be to use obfuscation techniques to disguise it. For example, use symbols in between alphanumerics in your email ID or use an encoding tool when you are posting it online. You can also use the image of the email ID instead of text.
- Another method to use will be creating a disposable email address to subscribe for websites. This way, your important email address stays protected and all the junk goes somewhere else!
Delete email without unsubscribing:
In case you receive an email saying “you have joined a newsletter” when you are doubtful that you subscribed to such a website in the first place, do not click on any link, including the “unsubscribe” button. Directly delete the email and report spam.
Be smart about passwords and security questions:
- Always set a strong password for every site, alphanumerics combined with symbols. Also, don’t set easy to guess passwords like “abcd”, or “1234”, or your name.
- Avoid using the same password for every website.
- Never share your password online.
- Avoid saving your password for sites, in your hard drives, or in clouds.
- Protect all your devices with pins and fingerprint locks, wherever possible.
- Opt for 2-step verification process whenever possible. The inconvenience of this extra step may just keep your bank account secure.
- Some websites use security questions as a backup for your passwords. Try using answers that you will remember rather than the ones those are actually true.
Keep your operating system up-to-date:
Keep your operating system updated to the newest version to save it from hackers sneaking into old programs.
Be careful of the Wi-Fi you use:
Avoid public Wi-Fis. If you do have to use them, never use them to open any link where you might have to enter a password – like personal or work emails, or bank websites.
If there is a problem, there is always a solution. Follow the above methods to be smart and you will stay protected over the internet. Nevertheless, if ever in doubt, there always are professionals you can seek out for help 24×7!