Sick of Junk Mail? Stop SPAM from Invading your Email
Are you sick of junk mail to your inbox? You should be.
Fighting spam is serious business. Gone are the days when emails for weight loss or hot babes were merely a nuisance. Spam has reached staggering volumes and the increasingly malicious nature of these messages pose a serious security risk.
The overall purpose of spam is also changing. The ads for pills and porn are still out there, but there’s now phishing, a much darker activity whereby messages aim to trick users into divulging identity or financial details, usually by luring them to fake banking sites.
What is SPAM Email?
In order for an email to officially be qualified as “SPAM” it must be:
Unsolicited – the recipient has not granted verifiable permission to the send
Bulk – message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages (usually to multiple recipients), all having substantively identical content.
I know for a fact that I had not subscribed to receive emails from most of the organizations that were sending them to me. Also as a online business consultant and digital marketer, I know a mass automated email when I see one.
To be truly productive > email distractions just have to go. In this email I’ll share with you ways you can stop the junk mail you receive daily.
Ways to Stop SPAM from Invading Your Email…
Ever since email accounts gained traction on the Internet, so too has sending spam emails to users. Given how email spam has increased, it’s a good idea to keep your email from being picked up by spammers.
Still, there are some precautions you can take from stopping spammers from learning of your email.
1. Protect your Email Address
Spammers need genuine, active email addresses to ply their trade. They use tools to automatically harvest email addresses from the internet, targeting addresses listed on websites, forum postings, mailing lists, and other sites.
They compile lists of email addresses and trade these amongst other spammers. It helps if you can resist advertising your email address on the internet to avoid being added to one of these lists.
It also helps to have a secondary email account for the occasions when you do participate in an online forum, or when signing up to newsletters and/ or competitions.
A second, less-important email address will help protect your main address and spare it from being harvested.
Protecting your email address will help reduce spam, but it’s worth remembering that spam bots also spew out lots of randomly addressed emails in the hopes of reaching a valid email account. Even new and unpublicised addresses can still get junk.
2. Stop Email Harvesting
There’s a bounty of email addresses out there ripe for harvesting for spammers, so they have an audience!
Of course, it’s going to take a long time for someone to trawl through the Internet finding email addresses! Therefore, the spammers set up bots to do the email harvesting for them.
If you have your email out there on the Internet, it might be subject to being picked up by an email harvester. You may find your junk folder (or even your inbox!) slowly begin to fill up with junk as your email gets passed around.
If you want people to email you from a website, consider having a contact form instead of posting your address. Contact forms allow users to send you emails without actually giving out your email address.
This makes it a safe way to receive correspondence without getting caught up in spam. For extra security, see if you can also add a captcha to keep bots from emailing you via the form.
Have your email address as an image, if you really want your email address listed on your site.
Scanning and detecting emails in pictures is a lot harder than scanning text, so there’s a very low chance a harvester will notice your email address in an image. Meanwhile, humans can very easily read the email address in the image and get in contact with you.
While both are great options. I prefer the first option, which is having a contact form.
3. Setup Google reCAPTCHA V3
Google has launched reCAPTCHA v3 to prevent spam bots without any user interaction.
It allows website owners to weed out harmful traffic generated by bots without even requiring visitors to prove they’re human.
The change also makes it easier for website visitors to log into their favorite sites without the wasted time and frustration of having to solve a puzzle to prove they’re a real human each time.
Recaptcha v3 now generates a score so website owners can determine if their traffic originated from bots. Website owners can generate scripts to perform automated actions based on the traffic score.
For instance, if Recaptcha v3 returns a low score, a website owner can use a script to require two-factor authentication or email verification as a requirement for their sites.
If you need help in integrating Google reCAPTCHA V3 to your website(s) reach out to us.
4. Train your Email Filter
Filtering is the most readily accessible anti-spam measure, available from many products and services. Filters help but they usually let some spam emails get through and, occasionally they catch some genuine messages too.
When you find spam in your inbox, don’t just delete it. Select it, and tell your mail client that this particular message is spam. How you do this depends on your client.
For instance, if you’re using Gmail’s website, click the Report spam button in the toolbar (the icon looks like an exclamation point inside a stop sign).
You also need to train the email client about your false positives. Once a day, go through your spm folder looking for messages that don’t belong there. When you find one, select it and tell the client that it made a mistake. In Gmail, you click the Not spam button.
If your mail client is halfway decent, it will learn from these mistakes…but only if you train it.
5. Anti-Spam Software
Anti-spam features may be built into the software you already use to check your email. Mac OS X’s Mail program can be trained to work out what you regard as spam, as can Mozilla Thunderbird (http://mozilla.com/thunderbird).
These employ a filtering technique that recognises the kinds of messages users flag as junk.
Some antivirus and general security suite products also contain anti-spam features. If you have already shelled out for an all-in-one product, check the documentation to see whether there are anti-spam settings that need to be activated.
If your current software doesn’t have it, there are dedicated anti-spam products available. There are some freebie software programs here:
Mailwasher – It works with Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and every other email program.
Spam Bully – Only compatible with Windows computers
6. Black and White Lists
Some anti-spam programs may also make use of a black list, but it’s worth noting that at this level they may not be as effective, since they can’t keep up with spammers who register and dump domains frequently. Instead, software-based black lists are possibly better left for blocking annoying newsletters.
On the other hand, a white list can work quite well for individual email users. It’s a list of all those who are authorised or approved to send email to you. A white list can help stop genuine messages from being incorrectly filtered as spam.
7. Never Respond to Spam
If you recognize something as spam before you open it, don’t open it. If you open it and then realize it’s spam, close it. Do not click a link or a button, or download a file, from a message that you even remotely suspect is spam.
If you opened a spam because it appeared to be coming from a friend or co-worker, contact them immediately and let them know that their account has been compromised.
8. Change your Email Address
This is a very drastic option, but if you’ve responded to spam in the past or haven’t hidden your address, and are therefore overloaded with spam, it may be your best option.
Of course you’ll have to inform your legitimate contacts about the change, and you’ll probably have to keep both addresses for a few months. But once you can get rid of the old address, your spam count should plummet.
Do you have any other good tips or tricks for stopping unwanted spam emails? Share them below!