spam blog

Avoiding SPAM

In recent months, we’ve heard about an influx of RansonWare (where hackers take over your PC and generally encrypt all your files and demand MONEY to restore your files).

First point of call – NEVER pay these people – there are NO guarantees you will get your files back!

In almost ALL cases, these RansomWare (and other viruses) are activated when people click on links or open files contained in SPAM emails. These cyber criminal syndicates are getting clever in that you will receive SPAM emails from reputable companies (containing their logos etc – looking Legit!).

If in doubt – DELETE the email…
If not sure – hover over the LINK or Attachment (DO NOT CLICK) and see what URL appears (E.g. if the email came from a reputable company – e.g. Australia Post (common one) – when you hover over the Link – it will be a weird/strange URL – this is a give-away…

In terms of receiving SPAM the best avoidance strategy is to use a separate email address (from your main account) for online purchasing. Unfortunately, the more you use your email address to PURCHASE, or join mailing lists, signing up to online courses etc, the greater the chance your email will be shared with unsolicited bulk emailing companies… Once on their lists, you will never get rid of them…

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to remove SPAM once you begin receiving it. Hence, if you can – create a second online shopping account, so you main account remains unknown to spammers. You can BLOCK emails via your mail program (flag as SPAM or JUNK mail etc) – however you’ll find that they find ways of continuing to spam you (by using different email addresses etc). So like many things in life – avoiding is best form of prevention – but once you on certain lists, you cannot avoid… Outlook does a decent job of moving spam into folders for you etc – so start right-clicking on Junk mail and sending to the spam folder…

You can of course REPORT SPAM. Generally, this is limited, as there is little the authorities can do when SPAM is arriving from off-shore entities. However if you receive a legitimate SPAM message (e.g. From an Australian Business) – A) there should be an “Unsubscribe” link on the email (note: never click this for overseas spam) and B) you can report them via http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/reporting-spam-i-acma

Organisations can be heavily fined for SPAMMING. It is illegal. This is why if you genuinely sign up for a website newsletter (or equivalent), you often have to manually accept the subscription by clicking on a confirmation link (often emailed to you from the website you are subscribing to) – This is call a 2-step validation process which is legally required for companies to send emails to you… The law states that in order to mail blast people, they must have agreed to receive emails from said company, OR there is a preexisting relationship (e.g. you are a client). Additionally, genuine/legitimate SPAM must clearly display an “Unsubscribe” link on the email in addition to the SPAM email containing the companies Address, phone numbers etc.

Receiving SPAM is probably the #1 aggravation in my personal IT life. I have email addresses 17 years old – so its found its way onto many lists. Hence, I have multiple email addresses now and use specific addresses now for online shopping and registration etc (e.g. I use a lot of online software from Antivirus apps to online office to software development packages – all of which I use a separate email account. Additionally, I’ll occasionally purchase products online for the family, register into a short course or event – again – I use the separate email account.

I hope this helps some of you… If you get an extreme volume of SPAM, you best course of action MAY be to create a brand new email account and let your genuine colleagues, family & friends know you have a new email address… Slowly (once the majority of your contacts are using the NEW account, you could decommission the old one). This is a sure-fire way to remove constant SPAM in your life – and should you do this – DONT use this new account for anything online!! 🙂