Junk mail has been a problem for over 25 years but has always been capped by the relatively high cost involved in the buying, shipping and fulfilment of letters. Junk E-mail or “spam” as it is known unfortunately does not have as many financial restraints. With the cost of an email being as little as £0.0004 companies are happy to broaden their scope and bombard every email address they can get their hands on with offers.
Spam can cause numerous issues for the recipient, aside from the relatively trivial matter of taking up space in your inbox; spam emails can have some very serious implications:
Some spammers have the malicious intent of actually doing you and your computer harm. Viruses can be sent through links within emails which can easily be mistakenly downloaded and cause your computer a lot of problems. Similarly spyware can be downloaded by clicking links in spam emails embedding it in system files, recording any information that the user inputs it then sends back this information to the spammer. This can be particularly dangerous when it comes to bank security codes etc.
Because buying data and sending emails to potential customers is so cheap companies can easily afford to be complacent about whom they send information to, often taking a blanket approach and emailing any data they can get hold of. Such activity can often result in inappropriate material ending up in the wrong hands; cases such as children receiving emails from adult sites are unfortunately very common.
There are a number of basic principles to follow as a preventative measure against spam email:
1. Never reply – If you do not recognise the sender as something you have subscribed to do not reply. Doing so can make the situation much worse
2. Do not attempt to open links or buy anything from an unrecognised company or from a company you have not subscribed to, best case scenario you will just end up getting more spam, worst case scenario, you could end up with a virus or spyware infestation
3. Never email a spammer asking to be removed from their list, the majority of the time this will just lead to further emails being sent, as you are essentially telling them that your email address is live.
4. If you have your own website or post regularly on forums, then be wary of displaying your email address in a format readable by spam bots, it is best displayed as a static image that can be read by the human eye but cannot be processed by a bot.
There are a number of tools and programs available on the market to help reduce the amount of spam emails that hit your inbox. Most web email providers such as www.gmail.com and www.hotmail.com have in built spam controllers that will direct potential spam email into a spam vault for you to verify. Programs such as Outlook also have spam filtering options which can help you to block and redirect unwanted emails.
There are also a number of spam blocking programs available for download, which offer a variety of options for dealing with spam mail, though you should take care to make sure they can integrate with the mail system you use (some programs only work with outlook).
Below are programs that can be used to reduce spam: