How To Stop Spam Email - Introduction
Spam email remains one of the most common cybersecurity threats in the world, and its persistence spans almost 40 years since the very beginning of network computing. Today, of course, learning how to stop spam emails is almost a rite of passage for any internet user, but as our knowledge of preventing email spam increases, so too does the sophistication of techniques used by cybercriminals.
Of course, in many cases, spam is just a nuisance that needs to be attended to once in a while; however, it does also have the potential to lead to cybersecurity breaches that can be extremely damaging to both individuals and organizations. For this reason, it is important to stay up to date with the latest methods of getting rid of spam emails and ensuring your inbox is protected.
Here then, we explore what exactly spam is, how to stop spam email, and how you can improve cybersecurity best practices whether at home or in the office.
What Is Spam Email?
At its core, spam email is unsolicited, bulk, or commercial email sent indiscriminately to a large number of recipients. However, alongside annoying advertisements and other unwanted content, modern-day spam may also contain serious cybersecurity threats.
The introduction of spam bots at the turn of the millennium saw the capacity for spam email increase dramatically, with cybercriminals able to send billions of emails a day. This large quantity of mail sent using automated scripts has the potential to flood a recipient's inbox, causing frustration and reducing productivity.
However, many of these messages also contain malicious links or attachments that can infect a recipient's computer with malware or trick the recipient into revealing personal or financial information. Additionally, phishing scams and spam emails that are intended to damage brand reputation are also common.
Different Types of Spam Emails
There are countless types of spam email, and cybercriminals are always devising new ways to trap users and trick them into divulging sensitive information or installing one of the many types of malware. Some of the most common spam email types, which may or may not include phishing scams and malware threats, include:
- Advertising: Spam emails that contain commercial advertisements or promote products and services.
- Get-rich-quick schemes: Spam emails that offer quick and easy ways to make money, often involving financial scams or pyramid schemes.
- Work-from-home scams: Spam emails that offer work-from-home opportunities but are often fraudulent and intended to trick people into providing personal information or paying upfront fees.
- Health and beauty: Spam emails that offer miracle cures, supplements, or products to enhance health or beauty.
- Stock and investment scams: Spam emails that promote get-rich-quick schemes involving stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments.
- Lotteries and prizes: Spam emails that claim the recipient has won a lottery or prize but require payment of fees or personal information to claim the winnings.
The Dangers of Spam Emails
The dangers of spam email are clear, however, many people are unaware of the sheer scale of the issue. In essence, spam works as a numbers game, and even if only a tiny fraction of the users who receive spam are tricked, it can quickly become lucrative for cybercriminals. The odds of success are further increased if malware is installed on a device or network.
For example, in one report by the magazine Eureka, a botnet known as Rustock was able to send 30 billion spam emails per day, with an estimated one million computers infected. To date, this is the largest spambot network ever recorded; however, having run for more than five years before being taken down in 2011, there are many more that go undetected.
More recent figures suggest that phishing attacks increased by 65% in 2020, and 43% of all spam emails contained some kind of malware. Additionally, some estimates suggest that employees spend up to two hours per day dealing with email, with 20% of this time dedicated to managing spam alone!
5 Ways to Get Rid of Spam Emails
Considering how long we spend managing spam, it makes sense to learn how to get rid of spam emails quickly and efficiently without compromising security. To do this, there are a number of tools and techniques that can be used.
Create a Separate Email Address for Online Shopping
Being cautious with your personal information is a preventative method of getting rid of spam emails. Creating a separate address for online shopping and other similar uses is a good way to do this. This approach can reduce the chance of accidentally responding to emails from unknown or suspicious sources from accounts tied to your personal or work emails.
Use an Email Filtering Service
Today, most email providers have built-in filters that can automatically sort spam emails into separate folders or mark them as junk. Users can also create custom filters to sort emails based on specific criteria, such as those from online marketplaces or newsletters. More sophisticated filtering services can also block known spam threats so they never get to your inbox.
Install an Ad Blocker on Your Web Browser
Installing an ad blocker in your web browser can reduce the number of pop-up ads that may lure you into entering your email address or other personal information, However, it is also important to remember that this is unlikely to stop spam emails from making it into your inbox unless you choose to enter your email.
Confirm Subscriptions from Trusted Companies Before Clicking Email Links
Confirming subscriptions from companies you trust before clicking the link in the email is a good way to get rid of spam emails you receive. This helps ensure that you only receive emails from reputable sources and will reduce the chances of accidentally subscribing to a spam email.
Before clicking on a link in an email, it's always a good idea to check the sender's email address, domain name, and content to make sure it's from a company you trust. If you're unsure about an email, you can also perform a quick online search for the company to verify that the email is legitimate.
Report Spam Emails as Soon as you Receive Them
Reporting spam as soon as you see it can help to reduce the number of spam emails you receive in the future. Most email providers have a "Report as Spam" or "Report Phishing" button that you can use to mark an email as spam, and this helps email providers proactively learn to identify and block future spam emails from the same sender.
In addition, many email providers have a team of security experts who review reported spam emails to help identify and block future spam and phishing attempts. So, reporting spam emails not only helps you but also helps protect other users who may receive similar spam emails.
Stopping Spam Email with Mimecast
For advanced email protection and resources on how to stop spam emails, Mimecast offers a range of products and services that can be rapidly deployed and tailored to your organization's existing infrastructure.
Featuring best-in-class email security solutions that protect against all types of email attacks, including phishing and malware, our industry-leading products are designed to meet your needs and defend against the most sophisticated attacks today. AI-powered is included as standard to ensure cutting-edge email security & resilience and ensure the very best protection against email spam.
Final Words: How to Stop Spam Emails
Despite having lived with spam for more than 40 years, there can be no single fix to the problem. This means that both individuals and organizations must remain aware of the latest threats and use a range of prevention techniques and protection tools. In doing this, and with advances in AI-detection and machine learning, spam email might not become a thing of the past, but it will become less dangerous to users and organizations.
For more information on Mimecast’s email security solutions and other cybersecurity products, contact us today to discuss your specific needs. Additionally, explore our resource section and learn more about how to stop spam email, as well as other insights into the cybersecurity landscape.