Email Spam – Stop it at the source

Do you get inundated with useless email spam? These are some options available to help you fight it:

1. Change Your Email Address

Change your email address. This may seem like a lot of hassle, but the common email providers, such as Google and Yahoo Mail make it easy to migrate all your contacts across to your new address. Then all you need to do is pick out the relevant contacts and send a group email explaining you have changed to a new email address! Simple. Understandably, having to change your email address to escape spam is annoying, but also boring and time consuming. Especially if the new address will be overcome with spam in 6 months anyway. Which takes me to number 2…

2. Unsubscribe to marketing newsletters

All legitimate businesses will have an unsubscribe button at the bottom of each email. It’s always in small print, right at the foot of the message, but you can find it and often one click is enough to prevent that company ever contacting you again. You’ll notice a very quick reduction in emails if you put this into practice, as the majority of your spam will come from a few, very active marketers. Before you start this though, be warned: DON’T GO NEAR ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS!!! If it looks suspicious, then it probably is and its definitely not worth the risk. Click the junk or spam button and let your provider deal with it. For companies you recognise though, clicking unsubscribe could dramatically reduce the time and boredom of checking your mail.

3. Use a web form in your contact section (with captcha!)

Allowing your email address to be visible on the internet is a common way for search bots to harvest your email address and take it back to their nefarious masters. Once your business email address appears on these lists, they can then be sold to the highest bidder, who can do with them what they will. By having a means of contact such as a contact form that is controlled at your end you can reduce the amount of email spam that you recieve.

A captcha will have the added bonus of preventing non-human enquiries, ie spam from coming in to your email inbox. More information on captcha can be found here.

Captcha’s work on the principle of testing to see if there is a human on the other end of the email enquiry through your web form. Another method is using quizzes. These are not 100% foolproof and a human can still use this method to spam your inbox or there are ways for a clever computer program to overcome captchas but these efforts will rebuff a majority of attempts.

4. Strengthen your email password

By making your email password super strong or changing it on a regular basis you can prevent malicious attackers from gaining access or “hacking” your email account. This will then reduce the chances of attempts to send spam from your own email address to friends and family. How often have you received an email from a friends email address such as “TV’s, Videos & Playstations – going now!” to find that they have been compromised. this is a roundabout way of reducing spam but you will be doing your bit to make it harder for hackers and no, “123ABC” is NOT a strong email password!!

5. Update your web contact form

An amateur built or antiquated web contact form on a website can also be easily compromised to create something called a “spam gateway”. This is where code injections can be used to send emails from the contact form out in to the world. I’m sure that clients or potential clients would not really trust your services if you are sending Viagra emails or Growth Enhancement surgery emails from your website address. The best way to check this is to ensure that your web form is secure. A really basic test is to use the following code on any input, such as a search or form.

‹script›alert(‘hello’)‹/script›

If an alert pops up and says ‘hello’ then you are vulnerable to these type of malicious attacks on your website.

There are further steps to have a look at and are explained in greater detail here

Conclusion

These are a few of the recommended solutions of reducing your incoming junk email and also protecting yourself against becoming a junk emailer yourself. No one knows why spammers still exist or what their perverted motivations are. Money and greed mostly we guess, it would be interesting to get hold of statistics that actually show the conversion rate of their spam attempts and ROI metrics!