Fighting Spam

There are actually many different kinds of spam but most people think of it as any unsolicited email. Personally, I tend to distrust all unsolicited email. Even if a service sounds convincing, I did not invite these people to contact me and therefore, as far as I am concerned, they deserve to be treated no better than the spammers seeking to commit fraud or trying to spread a malicious virus.

How to I spot spam?

  1. As silly as it sounds, most spam looks like spam. If the email is in plain text, in over polite English, with a .zip file at the bottom then it is likely to be spam. Spammers tend not to have much taste so tacky graphics are also a warning email may be dodgy.
  2. Check if the links in the email point somewhere other than the official sender. If you hover your mouse over the links it should show where the links point to. Check them ALL as spammers often include legitimate links to fool you.
  3. Does the email come from a free mail account such as Gmail? A legitimate company is unlikely to use a Gmail or Hotmail address.
  4. Often the email contains a .zip file, or MSWord, or Excel document normally in the form of an invoice, receipt, parcel tracking, etc.. This is a sure sign it is spam as most legitimate companies would never use .zip files or Word Documents to send invoices.
  5. A lot of email appears to have been sent by a legitimate company, such as your bank or other online service. But did they address you by name or include some other identifying information such as part of your account number? Check the links as advised above, is the link address exactly right. For example, natwestbacs.com is not the same as natwest.com.

what can I do about spam?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce spam. Ideally you should think about the problem from the word go, as soon as you set up a new domain name and email address. Here are some suggestions you might want to consider.

  1. Integralvision offers various levels of spam protection, Low, Medium, High and Extremely High. To avoid false filtering we recommend starting off on Low and only request we increase the Junk Mail Filter Levels one level at a time. Please let us know if you require your spam filters turned up.
  2. You can also use your email program’s junk mail filtering system to filter spam as it arrives. I would recommend dealing with your spam at least once a day. Do not leave it in your Inbox. Empty your Spam Folder on a regular basis.
  3. If you downloading email with a username and password to store on your computer (a POP account), then your local spam filters may not have any affect on the online spam filters. To interact directly with the online spam filters you need to be using an IMAP account. A compromise would be to log into your Webmail account on a regular basis and deal with spam there.
  4. Most email programs provide some way to filter emails as they arrive. If you are receiving the same spam over and over, set up a Mail Filter or Rule to direct it to your Spam Folder. It is doubtful if you can filter by sender address as spammers constantly change these, but maybe there is a Keyword in the Subject you can look for.
  5. We would advice you not to sign-up for any third-party services such as mailing lists without some thought. Ideally get a Gmail or other free web based email address just for this purpose. Use this to sign up, and then keep an eye on the account to see if it attracts spam. Once you are happy, simply update your email address with the service. Never use your business address to sign up if you can help it.
  6. Do not try to unsubscribe from any spam unless you are sure it is a legitimate company. It will just confirm your email address is “live” and your spam will double. A good trick is to examine the unsubscribe link and see if it appears legitimate. If you hover your mouse over the link it should show where the link points. Is it in the name of the senders domain? Does it look like a safe third party mailing tool? Is it in a country such as Russia (.ru).
  7. Never provide bank account details, passwords, etc.. in response to an unsolicited email. Do not click a link asking you to verify your password or anything else unless you triggered the request in the first place.
  8. Never open a Zip file that is attached to email from an unknown source. If an unexpected Zip file is attached to email from someone you know, consider verifying with the sender that the attachment is legitimate. Some viruses spread by emailing copies of themselves to everyone in the contact lists of infected computers; this means that you can receive infected files even from people you know.
  9. Too be safe, install anti-virus software and keep it up to date. This is an absolute must for PC users, less so for Mac users which are inherently more secure. There are free anti-virus programs available for Macs so why risk it. See: www.avg.com or www.avast.com.
  10. Don’t panic. Spam tend to come in waves. If you do nothing then most spam attacks eventually slow down and stop as compromised PCs and servers are discovered. Until the next time that is.