Dealing with spam and junk emails

Spam Email

Every day billions of email messages pass through the internet, tens of thousands through our own servers but about 90% of them are spam or contain viruses. Of course we have systems in place so that most of these are removed or marked as junk also each and every one is scanned to be sure it isn’t a virus.

Ever wonder why your friends email might end up in your junk folder?

To put it in layman’s terms, every email gets checked and point scored accordingly, the higher the score, the more chance that it’s junk, a high score will get the mail labeled as junk, a higher score will mean the message gets dropped. Of course not all ISP’s or mail hosting providers work the same way, so some of you will get more junk than others – if you do, try contacting your mail host, and ask why they allow spam on their networks?

Advice so your emails don’t get marked as spam:

  • Ensure there is a subject line in every email you send – a missing subject line is often a sign of spam.
  • Make sure there is some text in the ‘body’ of the email, even if you’re simply sending your latest fluffy cat picture, missing text here also gives the impression that you may be sending junk.
  • Don’t go forwarding every nuiscance email you receive, your friends don’t really want those extra smilies that come with the free virus you downloaded – more on this below.

Of course sometimes it’s not all your fault, I’ve came across many cases recently where people using sky’s email service were automatically blocked from sending emails, ISP’s use several blacklists to block persistent IP addresses who have been involved in sending malicious mails. Because many of the ISPs use ‘dynamic’ IP addresses, it means yours may change.. and it’s possible that you will get the ‘address’ that was yesterday used to send the latest junk.

It’s not always just junk though, many actually contain viruses or links to malware infested sites, so do be careful when you open them, and remember that your antivirus is only able to catch what it has seen elsewhere before, some rules to keep you safer are:

  • That Russian lady who keeps emailing you doesn’t really love you, in fact it’s not a Russian lady at all, and those pictures she attached are probably infected. Don’t open ‘her’ mails, simply click the delete/spam/junkmail button.
  • Those persistent invoice messages you get, with the attachment, they’re coming from infected machines, and are there simply to infect you. Currently I’m seeing hundreds of these getting blocked per week.
  • Your bank, paypal or amazon have not lost or forgotten your details, the email wants to take you to a fake site that will collect your details – you should probably report these ones.

The next ones here are probably not malware, but for the sake of consistency I’ll mention them:

  • Your great-uncle Bulgaria who wanted you to have his million pound (usually dollar) inheritance – Even if you had a great-uncle bulgaria, it’s actually a scam.
  • That professional guy/girl who suddenly wants to marry you. In fact he’s a little fat guy sitting in an internet cafe. He’s not really a teacher or a doctor as he claims, and he doesn’t really need you to send him money to get that visa – but he’ll take it from you and string you along.
  • You’re not going to get super rich and make thousands of pounds a day by sending some random dude on the internet some cash, or resending their junk to all your contacts, don’t be led in with the get rich schemes.

Of course there are many more and perhaps I’ll add to this list over time.

It is sound advice to beware of unsolicited emails, if they’re not from someone you would expect to contact you, take extra care when opening, and if you don’t know them, I’d urge to be extra cautious opening that attachment they’re trying to send!

Oh, and be sure to have an up to date antivirus, not just the ones that some salesman tried to push on you when you bought your PC – In fact many of the genuine free ones will work way better than that!

Should you be unsure, or perhaps you believe your machine is sending out junk itself give us a call for advice and see how we can help.

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