If you have ever used email in your life, then chances are that you have experienced spam in some form. As an overarching definition; spam relates to unauthorised content that is distributed in bulk with the intention of exploiting receivers in one way or another.
As you probably already know, spam emails can be disguised in many different ways but all of them will require you to click on something or reply to a message before any harm can be done.
Let’s go through some of the most common spamming tactics…
Ever had an email come through that looks like it’s from a legitimate organisation such as Paypal, your bank or another service provider? This practice is known as ‘Phishing’ and it is a severe form of spamming. The premise involves either informing you that your account security has been breached or suggesting that you are required to validate some payment details. Whichever the case, you should certainly be suspicious of such activities.
If a ‘Nigerian Prince‘ has ever reached out to you, then you will know what this method involves. Essentially, you will be told you are inheriting a large sum of money (For some reason) and your bank details are needed to have the money deposited. As foolish as it seems, many people have been sucked in by this long-running scam, make sure you’re not the next one.
General Unsolicited Content
Although some of these bulk emails may be coming from legitimate sources selling genuine products/services, they can still fall under the umbrella of spam. Legally, you must have the option to opt in and out of receiving any promotional emails. It may not be as invasive as the techniques mentioned above, but being bombarded with advertising material can still be quite irritating.
It is great to be aware of the different ways that spammers may try to target you, but you still may be wondering how they get your address in the first place. Unlike your friendly local retail store, spammers aren’t going to ask nicely for your permission to receive content.
So how do spammers get your address?
There are a few methods that are used and they all follow the same premise. The attackers will try and obtain email addresses in any way that they can, either by force or deception.
Common grubby activity includes;
Newsletter schemes: Involves sending twisted pre-spam-spam letters to random addresses in the hope that someone will click on ‘unsubscribe’ to confirm that the email address is real.
Directory Harvesting:Aggressors will sweep through the web looking for @ symbols or randomised email addresses in the hope of finding any that are active.
Database leaks: Whether they are intentionally leaked from an internal source or not, these give spammers access to any email addresses that subscribed to the impacted organisation.
What you see here is a small minority of the ways that spammers can track down your contact information, so what can you do to protect yourself?
From an email hosting perspective, you need to make sure that you have spam filtering solutions on your service. A good one that we offer on all of our email hosting services is SpamExperts, which scans all emails that pass through and cuts off any spam before it reaches your account.
When it comes to domain names most extensions that are not a .au can have ID protection enabled. This ensures that your personal information is hidden from public WHOIS records. If you do happen to have a .au domain name, your information will be visible on these records, however, your details are protected at the registry level.
From a general standpoint, it is important to always update the security features on any devices that you are using. This includes antivirus software which helps to protect your devices from harmful threats that may be after your personal information.
I’m not saying you need to live in a world where you should be constantly paranoid about spam, you just need to be aware of the dangers that are associated with it. Having this education and understanding of how to deal with spam can save you from becoming a victim.