How to Minimize Spam on a Network - dummies

By Doug Lowe

No antispam program is perfect, so you need to understand and expect that a certain amount of spam will get through to your inbox. Here are some tips that you (and your users) should keep in mind to minimize the amount of spam that gets through undetected:

  • Never trust email that requests your password or credit card. A bank will never send you an email notifying you of a potential problem and containing a link to its online portal’s login page. Nor will a credit card company ever send you an email alerting you to potential fraud and containing a link to a page that requests your credit card number to verify the transaction. Such emails may look very convincing, but you can rest assured they’re fraudulent.

    If you’re in doubt, do not click the link. Instead, open a browser window and navigate to the address you know for a fact to be the legitimate login page for your bank or credit card company’s web portal.

  • Never open attachments in spam. Attachments in a spam email almost certainly contain malware. Often, the malware in a spam email harvests all the contacts from your computer and sends them to the spammer, or hijacks your computer so the spammer can use it to send spam email.

  • Do not reply to spam. If you reply to spam email, you merely confirm to the spammers that they’ve found a legitimate email address. You’ll get even more spam.

  • Use your antispam program’s “This is spam” feature. If your antispam program has a “This is spam” or similar button, be sure to use it. Doing so alerts the antispam program that it has missed a spam message, which helps improve the filters the antispam program uses to detect spam.

  • Unsubscribe from legitimate emails. Much of what many users consider to be spam is actually mail from legitimate organizations. If the spam is from a reputable organization, it probably isn’t really spam; you probably at one time signed up to receive emails from the organization. Click the unsubscribe link on these types of emails to remove yourself from the mailing list.

    Spammers often include an unsubscribe link on their spam emails. If the email is actually spam, clicking the unsubscribe link is akin to replying to the spam — it simply confirms to the spammers that they’ve found a legitimate email address, and you’ll just get more spam. Worse yet, the link may take you to a malicious website that will attempt to install malware on your computer. So, before you click the unsubscribe link, make sure that the email is indeed from a legitimate sender.

  • Protect your email address. Be careful who you give your email address to, especially when you fill out forms online. Make sure you give your email address only to trusted websites. And read the fine print when you sign up for an account — you’ll often find check boxes that allow you to opt out of mailings such as newsletters or announcements about product updates and so on.

  • Use an alternate email address. One useful technique to manage the amount of spam you get is to set up a free email account with a provider such as Gmail. Then use this email account for websites that require an email address for registration when you don’t want to use your real email address. You can delete or change the alternate email address if it becomes the target of spam.

  • Don’t publish your email address. If you have a personal website or are on social media, don’t publish your email address there. Spammers use scanning software that trolls the Internet looking for email addresses.