How to protect yourself against email spam?

Email spam is something that almost everyone suffers from and that everyone hates – it ranges from something as harmless as an unwanted sales email about some product that you have never heard of, right through to a scam email that includes an attachment riddled with viruses and tries desperately to convince you that opening that attachment, and infecting your machine, is the right thing to do.

How to prevent spam

Be careful who you give your email address out to

The first and most important thing to understand about email is that your address is precious – don’t give it out to just anyone and everyone, protect it and only give it to people or companies that you trust, and that have a reason to be emailing you as a part of their Email sending campaign.

It is a very simple rule – the more people you give your email address to, the more likely you are to receive spam, eventually. Even though you may think that a company is legitimate and will take care of your address that isn’t always the case.

Unsubscribe where possible

Whenever you do receive an email that you are not interested in receiving always check near the bottom for an unsubscribe link – ALL genuine email senders will include an unsubscribe link that you can click on in order to prevent them from sending you future emails.

How to detect fraudulent emails

So you can’t always stop the spammers from getting to you, but when those spam emails do get through to your inbox make sure you don’t end up getting a virus from them or even worse be defrauded by the senders.

Check the real from address

The first step is checking the from address – sometimes senders of spam will create a fake from address so that it appears as if you know the sender. You can normally find the real email address by double-clicking on the from address itself to show the full email, or you can click on the reply button – because if a spammer is expecting a reply from you they will often show a fake from email to gain your trust but then use another email address that they are monitoring for the reply-to address.

Vet Links

Links are one of the most common ways in which spammers will try and get you on to their system where they can infect you with viruses and so on.

A very common trick is to show a link that appears to be going towards a genuine site but actually is going somewhere else entirely.

A good example is this link that appears to be going to google – http://google.com, but if you click on the link, you will see that it actually goes to yahoo.com.

A very easy way to check these links when they arrive in an email is simply to hover over them – the real destination URL will then be displayed in a “tooltip” window next to your mouse. Even if you cannot determine whether the real URL is safe, if it is very different from the URL of the link text then that is a good indication that there is something suspicious going on.

Attachments

Attachments are the best way in which a spammer can infect you with a virus or trojan so they should always be treated as suspicious. Spammers can hide viruses in many different types of files including ZIP files, Word and Excel documents and even PDF files.

the best advise when dealing with attachments is to always treat them as suspicious unless you can prove otherwise.

For example, you receive an email that appears to be from FEDEX about a parcel you are waiting for, and it has an attachment – even if you are waiting for a parcel, dont trust that email or the attachment unless you see the shipment number in the email and it matches up with the shipment number you already have on your files – the reason for being so cautious is that spammers intentionally disguise emails as companies that people are often likely to be dealing with and even worse, spammers will sometimes profile their victims before hand and send very targeted emails that will at first appear to be trustworthy.