Spam: Stopping, spotting, squashing
Email is likely to be one of the most prominent methods of communication for your business. As a result, the security of your email system should be of high priority as, with the growing threats from viruses, hackers and phishing, you could be vulnerable.
More than just annoying, or, at times, funny – spam is one of the most likely sources of viruses or phishing attempts. On top of it being potentially dangerous, spam is incredibly common. According to statista.com, spam accounts for over 60% of all email traffic globally despite seeing a slight downturn over the past two years.
The best way to deal with spam is to stop it reaching your inbox at all. This is where spam filters come in – if you haven’t got one set up yet, you should consider it. There are a few different types of filter available, each have their own strengths and weaknesses so you may want to shop around a little before making a decision.
It’s important to bear in mind that no anti-spam solution is 100% effective though, as spam is a huge business and it evolves quickly.
It can also be worthwhile talking to your email provider about changing your email service to a more secure system such as Microsoft Office 365 or an Exchange server. These systems can provide you with a more secure, more spam-resistant service.
If spam is landing in your inbox, you’ll need to learn how to recognise it. While most spam is immediately recognisable (like the ‘Nigerian Prince’-style emails of old), other spam is much more convincing.
Hackers and bots can even mimic the names and email addresses of friends or colleagues (or mimic your company and send emails to your customers) using a technique called Email Spoofing. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell whether your emails are being spoofed until somebody receives one of the “spoofed” emails and tells you.
Thankfully, preventing Email Spoofing can be easy – simply adding an SPF Record to your email hosting should prevent the majority of attacks. For larger companies with more serious threats, a DMARC Record will do the trick.
When an email lands in your inbox, regardless of who it appears to be from, you should always ask yourself whether the email makes sense – were you expecting an email from this person/company? Is it rife with spelling and grammar mistakes? Does it have an incorrect or incomplete address in the header or footer? Is it something that you could believe came from this person/company?
If not, you might be looking at spam – particularly if there are any attachments (nine out of ten viruses that infect computers come from malicious email attachments) or links (hackers will often direct you to dodgy websites and try to hack you from there).
So, spam is landing in your inbox and you’ve identified it – what do you do now?
Well, obviously, your first reaction might be to delete it immediately. While this will certainly get rid of that piece of spam, it won’t help to prevent future spam. Instead, you should make a note of important information from the email – who did it come from? What did it say? You could even pass it to your email handlers or your IT department, and ask them to check the email headers for useful information.
The reason behind this is that you might be able to build up a pattern. If the spam is coming from the same email address, the same server, or contains certain keywords every time, you might be able to tweak your spam filter accordingly or set up rules on your machine that direct similar emails straight into the bin – meaning that your filters will evolve alongside the spam that you’re receiving.
Still having trouble with spam? Get in touch, we can help.