4 Reasons Why You Keep Getting Spam Emails and 10 Tips on How to Protect Yourself

Today, it is difficult for us to imagine our communication without the speed and convenience of emails. But why are we getting junk mail? Why are these emails sent to us in the first place?

Along with usual correspondence every once in awhile we we happen to get an unwanted email by an unknown sender.

The following lines will reveal the main reasons for receiving this kind of emails and several tips on how to protect your email address in the public space and reduce the number of spam emails.

There are several types of spam emails:

Spam emails can be divided into several main types, as of course there is a combination of them:

  • Common unsolicited commercial emails that aim to sell a product or a service.
  • Misleading emails that aim to make users perform an action and contain, e.g.: ‘money from the Internet’, ‘fabulous view’, ‘a millionaire without any heirs’, etc.
  • Malicious email that aim to install a malicious software for sending spam, acquisition of personal information, etc.
  • Phishing emails that aim to obtain sensitive data, such as user name, password, credit card number, etc.

4 reasons why you keep getting spam emails

1. Your email address has been published online

The email address is displayed on your website for customer feedback. Not only on your website, but also on classified ad websites, advertising websites, directories, etc. Email address is most often provided without any protection and is present on the given website as a plain text. Finding the email address on these websites is a simple task for crawling spambots. Software that is designed to collect email address (or spambots), crawl around the web and record each email found. An email address that is displayed as plain text falls directly into malicious databases. As this databases can be accessed by persons who need to advertise their products on the web, the number of spam emails received increases without control.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to prevent copying the email from the contact page for any malicious purpose. The good news here is that it is not a common practice and even if it is applied, no large number of email addresses is collected.

 2. Signing up on a website

You signed up on a website with your email address without noticing or without the site’s general conditions even specify that you will get special offers and news (or that they will give your email to third parties so that you can receive essential news and offers from them). It is possible that you did not pay attention to the protection offered by the website. For example, Facebook offers personal data protection and its hiding in search results on the web. When it is necessary to sign up on a website, you can provide an email address you do not intend to use in the future. You can use different email addresses for the different kinds of websites.

3. Malicious access

There had been malicious access to your acquaintance’s mailbox and they have obtained your email address from their address book. Your email can also be obtained by access to your personal computer, or by malware.

4. Pure accident

Your email address has been in a list of randomly generated email addresses. Various combinations of characters are guessed with that type of spam attack in order to identify active emails belonging to a domain. Email addresses containing less characters are more easy-to-guess as this also applies to the use of easy-to-guess passwords, as well as to email address name. Users using domains registered at least few years ago most probably have received a lot of spam emails at some point. Spammers are sending a huge amount of spam to randomly generated email addresses. Thousands of records for rejected similar spam emails to not existing mailboxes can be seen for a day/hour in the mail server logs.

10 tips on how to protect yourself and reduce the quantity of spam emails

1. If you recognize a sender as a website on which you have requested to receive news or a newsletter – you should look for an option to unsubscribe.

2. Use different email addresses for the different types of websites you sign up into.

Different email address for websites where the email address is accessible to anyone. For example, on websites for online purchases, news, announcements, forums, etc.

Keep one email that you will use for important correspondence only. If you need an email address to serve you only for registration into a website and you do not intend to use it further, you may look up the email addresses for single use, existing in the websites, such as  mailinator.com.

3. Protect/mask the email address you provide for feedback on the web.

Although spambots most probably have already been ‘trained’ to recognize some simple protection methods, you can enter the email to be displayed on the web this way: info[at]mysitename.com, or upload it on your website as an image

If you have access to the source code of your website, you can use JavaScript to generate and display the email address.

Here is a very simple example of dynamic email address generation using JavaScript:

<script type=”text/JavaScript”>
document.write(“info” + “@” + “domain.com”);

4. Enable spam protection in the email client/software you use.

5. Scan your computer for malware.

Most of the spam emails on the Internet are not sent directly by spammers, but by computers compromised with malware that are linked under the name botnet (the word botnet is a combination of the words robot and network). When it comes to sending millions of spam emails for a short period of time, spammers would use their botnet network, instead of a single mail server. Infected computers are also called zombiesand they are involuntary spam senders. This activity remains hidden to the owner of such a computer, whether it is at their home, office or mall workstation.

6. Do not respond to spam emails (even with a request for “Unsubscribing”, “Delete”, etc.), unless you are willing to get more spam.

7.Do not click on the links/images in spam emai

Disable the display of images, scripts and HTML in the emails received. When you open an email containing an image or other element other than text, your email client or web browser loads/downloads that element from the sender’s server. In this way they will be able to see your IP address, operating system and browser you use, and confirm that your email address is active.

8. Consider replacing the email client you use.

Email software that comes with the operating system is preferred by spammers. A really good email client/software that is recommended for email correspondence is Mozilla Thunderbird.

9. Enable the spam filter that comes with the hosting service..

The customers of SuperHosting.BG who use hosting services and cPanel can also enable the SpamAssassin filter.

10. Add a SPF record to the domain settings.

SPF record does not stop incoming spam but it can prevent the sending of spam from the email addresses belonging to your domain.

There are SPF records set-up for the customers of SuperHosting.BG that have domains using shared Linux hosting and DNS servers for the hosting account

Good level of spam protection

As with the mailbox next to the front door, that is full of unsolicited brochures, web mail also does not have a single, definite and unmistakable means for spam protection.

To easily achieve a good level of protection, the fight against spam can be realized as a check list.

Start your protection list with the ten tips in this article and supplement it, if necessary.

According to different sources, about 90% of the overall email traffic is spam: www.senderbase.org ; www.symantec.com
There are dedicated international anti-spam organizations. For example Spamhaus, Spamcop, etc.
Currently, the statistics of Spamhaus concerning the Top 10 Worst Spam Countries, does not include Bulgaria. On the top of the list are USA, China and Russia.
Madlena Metodieva
Madlena Metodieva
Madlena is our super-support-guru. Madlena's SuperPower is that she can explain even the most complicated technologies in plain language.
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