Nothing is more annoying in email communication than spam. But that is not all: Spam causes high costs for companies and the unsolicited commercial e-mails also harbor high-security risks, as cybercriminals often use it to distribute Trojans, ransomware, and viruses. According to Wikipedia, an estimated 89 to 97 percent of global e-mail is spam, and in the United States alone, it damages companies and organizations annually to the tune of 22 billion US dollars. You should never give your email to a site you do not fully trust, that happens often with different online stores or casinos; which then start sending you unsolicited emails. Choose store-, casino sites you can trust; also never use your professional email for personal stuff.
In order to contain the flood of spam in their own mailbox, Internet users should consider the following seven tips:
- Do not give spammers a chance: In order not to become part of a botnet with which spammers can carry out their spam attacks, password security should be just as important as current virus protection.
- Conscious user behavior: A watchful eye when dealing with emails and links helps here. These should not be opened or called innocently. In case of doubt, for example, a link in an email should not be clicked, but the URL of the sender should be entered directly into the browser.
- Spam filters keep learning permanently: If a spam message has not been recognized, it should first be marked as spam (for example by moving it to the spam folder) and not deleted directly. Because with every email marked as spam, the system learns something about what is and what is not spam for the individual user. This is how the personal spam filters are trained in the e-mail inbox. Sometimes it is the broken English in an email that gives it away as spam, other times the sender has forgotten to change their emails name. Always mark them as spam before deleting them.
- E-mail addresses should not be given everywhere: E-mail addresses should not be carelessly published publicly on the Internet, for example in forums, blogs, or social networks. Internet criminals go there specifically looking for e-mail addresses to which they can send spam.
- It is also useful to use several e-mail addresses for different applications. For example, one e-mail address can be used for correspondence with friends and authorities, another for online shopping, and a third for booking trips or forums. In this way, the targets of the attack are distributed further and the personal identity of a citizen is not limited to a single email address.
- Spam messages should never be replied to. Another danger is hidden behind links that simulate a possible “unsubscribe” from spam messages or newsletters, as these are often fake. You should only follow an unsubscribe link if the sender is known and trustworthy. It is better to visit the sender’s homepage and cancel the subscription there.
- Beware of invoices: Users should be critical of incoming emails: For example, if you do not have a contract with a provider but receive invoices from them, you should first ask there (or look online in the corresponding user account) instead of following links in the email or attaching them to open.
New spam trends
The content tricks used by spam senders are becoming more and more sophisticated. A particularly perfidious scam is the so-called CEO spam. The attacker pretends to be a board member of a company. Then he writes to an employee with budget responsibility and asks for a short-term transfer of a larger sum of money, for example, because you want to close a good deal on the spur of the moment. The money then naturally ends up with the fraudster. Another spam trend is strongly emotional messages that are intended to either intimidate, frighten or make people particularly curious. This could be, for example, a fake letter from a lawyer, a fake order confirmation from an online shop, or a notice that a message has been received on a social network. You should always check carefully who is the sender of the email and do not open any attached links or documents before you know it is safe to do so.
How criminals send spam emails
Technically, online criminals use botnets to both disguises their actual origin and to increase the use of disposable domains. The botnets are a large number of computers that have been infected with a virus and are thus linked together in a large worldwide network by the hackers and can be controlled by them. With the help of this network, cybercriminals can initiate waves of spam against a country or very specific email providers.
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