Fighting Spam Part II: As a User

In our last article, I covered best practices for handling spam as an administrator. Spam, however, is everybody's problem. A single user on a network not following best practices breaks the "herd immunity" of the network and makes everyone on it vulnerable to spam, malware, or spam-sending malware. So let's get into it.

Don't respond to spam

Whether it looks funny or interesting, do not click the link. Don't click the ad. Don't reply to the email. Don't forward the email. If possible, don't even open it. Most spam can be easily identified with a basic eye test; is it from a name or address you don't recognize? Does the subject line read like an ad or like it was written by a bot pretending to be human? Is it from a well known brand or company that you know you had to transaction with?

Use the spam/junk folder

When you see a spam message, send it to your spam folder. Most mail servers will have a filter that "learns" to tell spam apart from regular mail. Sending spam to the spam folder trains this filter. As such, DON'T delete spam messages.

It also follows that if you're recieving messages you did sign up for, whether a mailing list or whatever, don't throw these into your spam folder. Unsubscribe from that list instead, for the same reason that it would lead to your spam filter to make more mistakes. Periodically check your spam folder for legitimate messages, since these filters aren't perfect and will make mistakes eventually.

General internet practices

Use multiple email accounts, and use designated ones for things like social media and online stores that's separate from your personal email and your work email. Obviously check everything you're signing up for and don't just throw your work and personal email up on the internet.

Use adblocker when possible. There are barely any legitimate sites out there; even "official" looking news sites like CNN or Fox will have offsite links that will lead to sites asking for your info or, worse, push malware to your PC.

This includes times where you're asked for your information by regular installers. Often freeware installers will ask you to sign up to mailing lists or to install more software by their sponsors. Don't install anything you didn't intend to from the start, and unless you're buying a subscription license you don't need to provide your information to use software. Althrough, admitedly, requiring an email is becoming a more common requirement for some software.

Internet literacy is something you have to commit to learn and practice, as it's often the best line of defense against exploitative internet practices.

Finally.... DON'T SEND SPAM. Should go without saying, but the best way to reduce spam is to reduce perpetrators. Don't be that person. Chances are, if you're involved in sending spam, you're probably not profiting off it nearly as much as whoever is having you do it. Spam is very rarely a one person operation. Don't get used.

And that's all for this series. If you have any questions for us, or want to stay current with our articles, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Until Next Time!

August 23 2019

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