The 3 Things You Should Not Do When Encountering Spam

Spam, our mailboxes are full of them. No, not the can of meatloaf that many of us meat-eaters love to consume. We are referring to Spam, the junk emails which grew to a worldwide problem for the at least the last two decades. Spam messages usually ranging from selling genital-enhancing drugs to offers of elicit sex services and everything in-between that you may or may not able to imagine.

A decisive anti spam action becomes a necessity and not luxury these days, as junk mails clog many email systems of the world. It escalated to a level of a global crisis. The fact that stares us in the face, 45% of all global emails are just junk.

We cannot depend on our instincts alone as time demands for an effective anti spam action from our end. In this article, we discuss 3-things you should not do when encountering spam.

Antispam Action

1. Do not immediately delete the Spam email

Maybe unintuitive at first glance, but deleting spam manually is unproductive as the first anti spam act you can do. In a study on employee daily productivity by Mckinsey.com, 28% of the work week is spent just reading and answering emails. It is a routine task being slowed down by spam messages. Imagine how much time out of that 28% of the work week is spent just to delete spam emails. It can be safely assumed deleting junk emails is one of the first anti spam act a user does right after arriving in their office.

The email client you may be using like Outlook and Thunderbird include a rudimentary anti spam capability, in the form of the junk mail folder. Be alert when you encounter spam outside the junk folder, as that means the basic anti spam filter failed to do its job. Moving the spam email manually to the junk folder, or better yet set up an email policy to move all emails to the junk folder from the same known spam email sender is a recommended anti spam action.

2. Do not click any links inside the Spam email nor reply to it.

As we decide not to delete junk mail as our first anti spam action, we need to be more cautious. A Spam email usually wants you to visit the site mentioned in its message body. Opening the site with an unpatched and vulnerable web browser is inviting a lot of trouble. Some spam hijacks the browser, as the destination site they provide includes a malicious payload that changes the browser's behavior once clicked. This can either:

  • Change the homepage and generate pop-up and pop-under advertisements
  • Injects code in the Windows Registry that enables the first behavior mentioned above to persist in-between restarts.
  • Plant malware deep into the user's machine, either by exploiting an unpatched vulnerability of the browser or taking advantage of the administrator privilege of the user to install itself stealthy in the computer.

Replying to a spam email is the worst thing a recipient can do a counter-anti spam action. This is because spam emails are regularly launched in massive quantities to a database of pre-determined email addresses.

Spammers are literally throwing everything on the wall, in hopes some of them will stick and just sending a reply to their message is an accomplishment of their goal. The typical action of the user to panic runs counter to a productive anti spam action that can save networks from further trouble.

Your reply to the spam validates that the email domain you are with is legitimate. Say goodbye to your @companyemailaddress.com as it shall soon receive an insane number of spam emails in the coming weeks if not days ahead. Any reactionary anti spam action on the system administrators and users are no longer effective, once the email domain has been verified by the spammers as legitimate.

3. Don't Forward  the spam email to just anybody, except for the corporate IT expert

Usually, forwarding a spam email you encounter to someone else will just help propagate and promote the spread of spam. It runs counter to the anti spam action system administrators are promoting in the enterprise.

Exemption to this scenario is if your enterprise has an IT Support unit that specifically handles computer network security-forensics. They have highly trained staff that investigates the source of the spam, and help devise policies and implement changes that harden email platform to mitigate spam problems.

Aside from having a specialized team that does anti spam actions through forensics, one way of hardening email systems is through the use of an Anti Spam Gateway. One such software is Comodo® AntiSpam Gateway, through its revolutionary Valkyrie technology that heuristically scans emails for potential spam and securely eliminating them. One of the first anti spam act it does is immunize the email server, as it runs a background process monitoring the exchanges that happen in real time.

As part of the anti spam action suite, Comodo® ASG also protects the email clients from malicious attachments and links. Heuristics cloud-based scans supplements the core anti spam engine, it quarantines questionable messages as one of its primary anti spam action. These days that spammers have all the tools at their disposal to continuously improve their spam, a comprehensive anti spam action needs to implemented by an enterprise, regardless if they are large or a start-up. Try Comodo ASG today.

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