ATF In-Depth: Email Spams and How to get Rid of them

what is email spam

Email spam as defined on Wikipedia is a junk email or unsolicited bulk email (UBE). These spam emails are sent in bulk to the recipients worldwide, which contains links to phishing and malware sites. Some spams contain links that download anonymous virus or spyware as soon as you click on it. Or even may lead you to some common scams like ” We’re the coca cola company and your email has won $500,000″.

Gary Thuerk – First person to send spam message in 1970 to around 600 people. But after that, it has steadily grown from the early 1990’s. Spams have now become ubiquitous and unavoidable. 80% of spams are delivered through botnets, a network of virus infected computers.

In US, spam was declared as legal by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Under this act, promotion of any commercial product or any advertisement through email is legal. But, under the condition, of giving the recipient an option to unsubscribe from such emails, in the email itself. Giving user the freedom to unsubscribe, if he’s not interested.

So, how do Email Spams work?

Well, spammers have different high end techniques and they have innovated from the past years. You can’t completely avoid spams, but can reduce it. First of all we will look at the techniques that they use and after that I’ll give you some tips to protect your email account from them. Let’s see the methods they use for collecting the Email Ids.

1. Mailing Lists

mailing lists collected by spammers

This is one of the oldest and most reliable way, the spammers use to collect email id. There are many sites that provide newsletters and ask their user to subscribe to their mailing list. If one of these sites has a poor firewall than the mailing list can be compromised and leaked.

Last year some popular sites like drupal.org(An open source CMS) and adobe.com were compromised and millions of the user accounts got leaked with their Email addresses and passwords. Now these email addresses get sold to the spammers and the companies associated.

If you want to check if your account has been compromised on which site then head on to Have I been pwned? It’ll display your compromised accounts.

If you’re too concerned of your PC’s security, then check out our Ultimate Guide to Secure PC.

2. Click here to Unsubscribe

method used by spammers

You would have probably seen an unsubscribe link under every newsletter. Well, you click on it and unsubscribe from the mailing list. But, this will not be the case every time, unless the site you’ve subscribed to is legitimate. The spammers use this unsubscribe link to check if the email address is active or valid. They create random email address and send emails that may exactly look like a newsletter of a reputable site.

The recipient may think that, I haven’t subscribed to such newsletter and would click on the unsubscribe link. This triggers the spammers that it’s a valid email address and add the email address into their database for spamming.

3. Web Crawler bots

web crawler bots used for email spamming

These fishy guys have also coded some special programs that crawl web pages and check if there is any email address present in the text. They are such advanced that they sent requests to the web servers of the particular site to crawl it. If they find any email address it gets automatically stored in a database. So, think before displaying your address in the content of any site or in comments.

4. Social Networks

social network email spams

They can easily get your email address from your google, twitter or facebook accounts. If you have kept the username the same as that of your email address (For example: http://www.facebook.com/alltechflix23 and alltechflix23@gmail.com) than they can easily figure out your email address. As all the social profiles appears on google search that’ll be damn easy for them.

How to Protect your Email Account from Spams and Get rid of them?

First of all, as i said before, Email spams are unavoidable. You can’t completely stop them. You just can reduce them. Here, I’ll give you some tips and well known tricks that can save your account from being spammed. All you need to do is be smart. Let’s have a look over some smart tricks.

1. Disposable Email Address

disposable email address for spams

Disposable Email Address (DEA) is the most efficient way to protect you email account from spams. Let me first explain you its function.

Disposable as the words the says “it can be destroyed”. So, DEA is an email address that can be destroyed after some time or whenever you wish. The structure of DEA may look like this – <RandomCompanyName@RandomName.DEAServiceProvider.com>

So, such type of DEAs can be used on sites like discussion groups, forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms,etc. where they may ask you to subscribe with your email address, before you could use their service. It’ll redirect all the mails to your original email address. Without making the site or person know about your original address.

This will help you to track the mails, if they are using your email to spam it. If they do, you can just dispose the DEA. So, your account will at least be spam free from such sites. For more info on how to use a DEA visit this article.

2. Learn how to write your email address

If in case you have to share your original email address on any website make sure you follow this pattern.

alltechflix23 [at] jeemail [dot] com
This’ll actually resist the web crawler bot to identify it as an email address.

3. Turn on your spam filters

Turn on the spam filters of your email service provider. Nowadays, all the email service providers have really smart spam filters and really strict. I use Gmail, and once it had added a newsletter of smashingmagazine.com as spam. Which was not actually a spam. Don’t why it was added in the spam folder. But this shows that, the spam filters of Gmail are really strict.

4. Choosing the first letter of your Email address

Yep! The first letter of your email address can determine the amount of spams you get. According to the analysis of Dr. Richard Clayton at the Cambridge university, the Email addresses starting with the popular letters like ‘A’, ‘M’, ‘R’, ‘S’, ‘P’, may get more spams, than that of the email addresses that start with  ‘Q’, ‘Z’, ‘Y’. These letters are rarely used. Here’s the PDF report.

#5 Anti Spam Softwares

You can also take help of a anti-spam software, if you’re don’t trust your email service provider. They’ll just work very well. All you have to do is submit your email address and let it track all the spams. To find a perfect anti-spam software, take a look at this reviews page.

Conclusion:

As I said before you just need to be smart. Smart enough to figure out that Pepsi or Coca cola will never give you millions of dollars for a lottery that you never signed up for. But, still some internet newbies get trapped in such fraud emails. Help such people know about spams and other fraudulent activities. Spread this article, if you’ve found it helpful. We appreciate your each and every share.

Must Read: ATF In-Depth: Increasing your Internet Speed (Things you Didn’t know)

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