What is SPAM and how do I protect myself?
What is spam?
"Spam" is internet slang for unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), also known as junk mail, which ranges from advertisements up to and including adult material. "Spammer" is the sender of the unsolicited e-mails or UCE.
How did I receive it?
There are a few common ways a "Spammer" gets your e-mail address.
The first one is sometimes referred to as a "Blanket Spam". A "Blanket Spam" is created by using special computer programs. The Spammer sends an incremental email to everyone at a particular domain, for example, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and so on. Using the "Blanket Spam" method there are hundreds of e-mails delivered (hits), thousands rejected (misses). We then block all email from that particular sender and or domain. The Spammer then compiles his or her list of hits and misses, and moves to another domain or sells the compiled list to another Spammer.
The second way is sometimes referred to as "Opt-In Spam". Have you signed up for a contest or registered at a website for special features? Some of these websites do have a check box / option when you sign up that's says something like "Send me special offers, promotions, and research surveys from selected partners" (real world example). If this box is checked then these web sites can sell / trade your email address to third parties, who in turn can spam you.
Another growing reason for unwanted e-mails is "recycled e-mail address". The e-mail of your choice was used prior to you by another customer and the e-mail continues to arrive intended for the prior customer.
Is there anything I can do to help prevent Spam?
Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself from an overwhelming amount of spam emails. Below are a few tip you can follow to ensure you are doing everything you can to block spam from getting through to your personal email.
If you do not know the sender of an unsolicited email message, mark it as Spam and delete it.
- While most spam is usually just annoying text, a spam email message could actually contain a virus that could damage the computers of all who open it.
Never respond to any spam messages or click on any links in the message.
- Replying to any spam message, even to "unsubscribe" or be "removed" from the email list only confirms to the spammer that you are a valid recipient and a perfect target for future spamming.
Think carefully before you provide your email address on websites, newsgroup lists or other online public forum.
- Many spammers utilize "web bots" that automatically surf the Internet to harvest email addresses from public information and forums.
The reverse also applies when you are sending an email. When sending email messages to a large number of recipients, use the blind copy (BCC) field to conceal their email addresses.
- Sending email where all recipient addresses are "exposed" in the "To" field makes it vulnerable to harvesting by a spammer's traps.
Have and use one or two secondary email addresses.
- If you need to fill out web registration forms, or surveys at sites from which you don't want to receive further information, consider using secondary addresses to protect primary email accounts from spam abuse. Also, always look for a box that solicits future information/offers, and be sure to select or deselect as appropriate
Never make a purchase from an unsolicited email.
- If spamming weren't economically viable, it would be obsolete. Not only can an email user fall prey to a potentially fraudulent sales scheme, but his or her email address can also be added to the numerous email lists that are sold within the spamming community, further compounding the number of junk emails received.