Wherever there’s email, there’s spam mail. And while it’s tempting to reduce the problem to desperate pleas from Nigerian princes to transfer funds, in truth, the spam issue runs way deeper. It’s becoming ever more sophisticated and spans phishing scams, spiders, bots and DDoS attacks, among many other threats. Spam ranges from the benign to the highly damaging, and the reality is that someone always loses out. After all, if it never worked, then no one would bother with spam emails in the first place… right?
Spam relies on the numbers game. If even the tiniest fraction of recipients reply to the scam, or download malware onto their computer, then the spammers have won. The fact that it is so cost-effective to send millions of emails in a matter of seconds is the very reason spam exists in the first place. And here’s the thing, even if you don’t fall for the scam, the costs that ISPs bear for spammers to work their evil charm eventually gets passed on to you, the consumer!
In the end, you end up paying for spam email, one way or another.
What is Spam?
Everyone has come across spam at some point in their online lives. In the early days, most people weren’t prepared for such attacks, and success rates for spammers was most likely quite a bit higher. However, today’s savvy email users are well versed in even the most sophisticated spam messages, and despite new threats popping up on a regular basis, the internet’s speed and reach are able to keep everyone informed as to the latest scams.
The definition of spam, according to Merriam-Webster is:
Unsolicited usually commercial messages (such as e-mails, text messages, or Internet postings) sent to a large number of recipients or posted in a large number of places.
However, there’s also a clear distinction between spam and junk mail, despite the two being closely related. Put simply, junk mail are those harmless yet annoying newsletters or (genuine) marketing emails that clog up your inbox. Spam, on the other hand, usually has more insidious motives, generally setting a trap either through catfishing, impersonation of a company or organization, or by luring users with offers that are too good to be true.
It’s also useful to split spam into two separate categories: spam email that attempts to steal your data through phishing, and spam email that infects your computer with malware or ransomware. Both can be devastating to individuals and companies alike, and through a combination of lost productivity, technical expenses in protecting against the threat, and the damages caused by any successful spam attack, costs can run into the millions.
Dealing with Spam Email
Delete. Delete. Delete. And definitely do not open any attachments or follow any links! Those are the very simple rules when it comes to stopping spam email from either damaging your computer or stealing your data. However, recognizing unwanted emails and spam is the first step of the process, and alongside a decent spam filter, you should stay on your toes whenever you’re dealing with unsolicited messages. To put you on the right track, here are a few sensible tips for identifying spam mail:
- Always be wary of any email you receive from someone you don’t know.
- Check the subject line and message for typos, bad syntax, strange formatting and characters
- Double-check URLs and email addresses, sophisticated spammers can appropriate familiar company names.
- Be suspicious of emails asking for login details or personal information.
- Check online for the latest spam email scams.
Spam Email — The Final Word
Today, savvy internet users are more likely to see spam as an inconvenient nuisance rather than a real danger, however, the huge expenses that are associated with the problem, alongside the growing sophistication of spam email also ensure that a threat remains. Staying alert to those threats is the best way to stop spam mail, however, ensuring your email client is up to the task is also important.
Spike’s 21st approach to email ensures you’re always secure, and Priority Inbox helps you easily identify spam email by sending everything suspicious to your “Other” inbox. Here, you can scan subject lines and message previews and instantly delete suspicious emails without ever opening them. You can also use the “Block” feature and stop receiving messages from certain emails entirely.
Check out the Spike app today and let us know how you deal with spam by tweeting us at @SpikeNowHQ.