Spam is an annoying feature that is deeply ingrained in electronic communication and it comes in many forms. Some are just marketing emails that aim to grab and keep your attention. Worst case, this type of spam clogs your inbox. Other types are far more nefarious aiming to gain a foothold in your system. Phishing attempts, social engineering attempts, and malicious links could be hidden in your unwanted email. Learning how to reduce spam helps keep your inbox tidy and keep your information more secure.
Why Spam Matters
Mark Jordon, Director of Cybersecurity at Hill Country Tech Guys, helps ensure that inbox hygiene is given the attention it needs, and for good reason.
“Almost 80% of all cybersecurity-related incidents are caused by someone opening or interacting with a malicious email,” Jordan said. “Threat actors know that many businesses have built the walls of their digital castle higher and stronger, and instead of assaulting the front gate they trick unsuspecting employees to open a side door by way of seemingly legitimate-looking emails.”
Jordan goes on to talk more about the potential risks associated with spam. “These emails are good. Really good. What may convincingly appear as an email from your bank, or even another person you actually know, may in truth be a ploy to trick you into opening a link or downloading an attachment which essentially gives an attacker free rein to your computer, and eventually your entire business.”
Jordon also states that using MFA and good password hygiene in tandem with training employees is an excellent defense.
How to Reduce Spam
Use the 8 tips to reduce the number of spam messages hitting your inbox:
1. Be thoughtful about giving out your email address
We live our lives online these days which means your email address is highly valuable information. Companies collect email addresses like your grandfather collected stamps, so be mindful of who you trust with your information. This also means being aware of where your email address is posted. Social media sites allow you to pick and choose what is and what is not shared publicly and with your friends and followers.
2. Use your spam report feature
When you report a message as spam, it helps tune the algorithm to better process your mail in the future. It also helps identify potential sources of malicious intent.
4. Don’t forward chain letters
Part of learning how to reduce spam is learning not to contribute to spam. When you forward chain letters, you’re contributing to spam in the inboxes of people who have trusted you with their email addresses. Chain letters don’t just clog up your inbox. Adding senders also risks exposing other email addresses to potential spammers.
5. Check preselected options before submitting
Often you will find that there are preselected options for marketing collateral when signing up for a “free” account. Be sure you uncheck any message types you do not want to receive. If you forget to uncheck marketing options, you should be able to unsubscribe once the messages start coming in. Check the bottom of your messages for the “unsubscribe” option.
6. Don’t click links in emails from untrusted senders
Spotting an untrustworthy source in an email message is difficult so be sure you trust the sender before clicking that link. Often, phishing attempts will look like they come from a trusted sender. Check the sender’s address, logos, and other information in the email before you click that link. At best, clicking a link lets a user on the other end know that they have a good email address to continue to send messages to. Sometimes links are far more dangerous. By clicking a link, you could be downloading malicious software on your computer or into your company’s network.
7. Make a free secondary account
This is the best solution to tip #1. There will be times when you must submit info to get something. Rather than filling up your regular use personal inbox or worse yet your work inbox, consider signing up for a free secondary email address used for marketing signups. Gmail offers free accounts with free (limited) cloud storage and is a trusted provider.
8. Don’t reply to spam messages
Much like clicking the link in an email or answering a scam call, the only thing this does is confirm to the entity on the other end that they have a good working email that a live user is monitoring and responding to. You could open yourself up to additional emails and potential threats.
Reducing Spam Reduces Risk
The number one vulnerability of any company is the end user. The more end users, the more weak spots your company has. New employees may be a target as they are unfamiliar with policies which makes them more likely to click. Training your employees on the fundamentals of cybersecurity best practices, including dealing with spam, will help make your company more secure. The earlier and more often you train, the better. If you’d like to talk to an industry leader about IT solutions tailored to your company, give us a call today.