Spam Wars: Fighting Email Spam
Blocking those odd-ball emails from making their way into your inbox.
Welcome to Spam Wars. There are never ending battles being waged for your inbox. It is the spammers’ quest, duty and job to get you to click or open their email. I love email spammers, most people don’t, so you ask how do you deal with email spam?
This is the highest level of protection where an action or reply is required by the sender. While this is an effective way to block unwanted emails, you may end up blocking important automated emails from important sources like your bank or credit card companies.
Reporting Malicious Spammers
Hackers and Spammers use 2 common types of malicious emails are virus attachments and spam that seeks to steal your financial information. Virus attachments cannot infect your computer unless you click or open the attachment. There are many virus protection software programs that warn you once a virus attachment has been received. Some popular programs include: Norton, McAfee and Avast.
Spammers seeking to steal your personal information or gain access to your financial information go to great lengths to trick unwary users by creating emails that look exactly like an official email from a reputable financial or online company.
Detecting Financial Fraud
If you see an email that looks suspicious there are ways to detect it. Let’s say you receive an email from Bank of America. The email warns you that someone has attempted to access your account and your cooperation is needed to prevent this from happening. The email looks very official and contains their logo along with a properly formatted hyperlink that looks something like this: bankofamerica.com/account_resolutions. But once you click this, there is a very different link, which still looks official. The page still looks like Bank of American but the web address is linking to another website aka: clickster.com/bankofamerica.com
When you see these emails forward them to the proper departments of the actual company or organization. Here are two emails for reporting suspicious emails to Pay Pal and Bank of America. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Spammers’ Weapon Of Choice
The spammers’ weapon of choice is surprise. Heck, even I’ve been fooled once or twice out of sheer curiosity. The email might come to me titled as ‘Dear Rick’, Or ‘Rick, please read this’. Spammers or mass email marketers need to sneak past your spam filters, which are either setup by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or your own email client spam filters.
Internet Service Providers can only do so much. It’s up to you if want more protection. There are third party providers that specialize in identifying and blocking spam.
How Spam Is Identified
Here are the primary parameters that define an email:
From Address: firstname.lastname@example.org!
From Domain: billpayers.net
Subject: We pay all your late bill fees today.
Body Text: You have been approved!
Specific file Names: paynow
Specific File Extensions: paynow.exe
Most ISPs have a ongoing file of known addresses and domains belonging to spammers. However, identifying spam using the subject line and body text is more difficult and must be blocked at the user level.
Blocking Spam Based On Use
Since I run a business I do not want to unwittingly block new emails from potential business inquiries. So I have to deal with a moderate amount of spam. Some users work around the problem by creating multiple emails for friends, family, business and general use. If you have some techy skills you may define your own spam filters within specific email domain accounts. Your ISP or Internet Service Provider can help you with this.