I often wonder how much time in a day is spent by people in the world checking through their emails, and then I think how much of that time is actually spent sifting through your inbox to find the “real” mail you need to focus on. Junk emails, unsolicited mail, unwanted bulk messaging, whatever you call it we all seem to receive it; the nuisance that is spam email. The official definition usually says that the email is unsolicited and sent in bulk which rings true to its nature, but the question is how can we prevent ourselves from receiving spam email that we really never wanted to receive in the first place?
According to surveys America accounts for approximately 18% of all spam mail sent. The country distributes far greater spam mail than any other country in the world. Although the results found America to have the greatest single portion, other countries were by no means innocent of incessant spam mail bombardments. In the survey, China scored 2nd with an 8% share of world spam distribution and India came in third with a respective 4% share. Other countries which ranked highly on the survey were South Korea, Italy and France.
The spam email promoting diet pills, male enhancement companies and dating websites for example, may be distributed in record breaking quantities by America, but this does not necessarily mean that these emails originate in the United States. Many spam emails originate in overseas hard drives but use American emails for content delivery. To demonstrate, whilst the U.S. holds the single highest percentage of spam mail distribution for any single country, Asia was the highest ranked continent, accounting for 36.6% of the globes spam mail. In comparison North America ranked third with a lower 22%.
There are a few simple steps that you can take to prevent spam emails landing in your inbox:
- Be sure before you share your email address. Unless you really know the person or organisation that you’re giving your email address to, keep it to yourself! Chat rooms and social networks are great for connecting with people, but not a place to be sharing your email address.
- Have two email addresses. A personal one that you give to family, friends and work associates, and a second one that you use when subscribing to newsletters, shopping online and for creating a profile on a website. Hotmail for example has a great anti spam filter built in so you can easily see which emails are spam and what’s not.
- Watch out for the check boxes! When you sign up for something or buy online, make sure you read the small print and opt out of receiving information by email. Quite often your information will be shared amongst a number of third parties leaving you at risk of being spammed.
- Never reply to spam email and ask to be unsubscribed. By replying you are letting them know that your email account is active. Instead use the link provided at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe your address from their list.
- Use anti spam software. Norton Internet Security for example filters any spam email into a Junk Mail folder separating it from your legitimate mail. You may need to check the folder occasionally and tell the filter if anything in there is not spam, but once “trained” this software can really work for you.
There are also things you can do to stay safe online, avoiding violation and breach of your cyber privacy by spam email. Here’s a few hints and tips to ensure you cover yourself and be secure online:
- Set up a second email account to receive your password reset information. If your primary email has been compromised, you don’t want the reset information to be sent to it. Setting up emails is free, have two and use them to back each other up.
- Don’t use your email to send sensitive information and data. If you do, delete the email from your sent mail immediately.
- Connect to your email address through an encrypted connection. This simply means utilising the SSL tool (the lock can be found in your web browser) for Gmail and Yahoo accounts. For other accounts a secure protocol such as IMAP or POP3 can be used. Ensure to do this on mobile access ports as well as on your PC or Mac.
- Use very strong passwords with 15 or more characters, so for example use your home address number, college or pet name with an anniversary date.
- Use strong password retrieval questions. There is little point in using your favourite film or meal and then writing about it on your preferred social media platform. Although innocent in your intentions, you are potential giving others access to your email.
- Learn how to regain control over your email in case it is compromised. Plan the procedure ahead, ensure you know who to contact or which number to ring and also what information you will need to provide the customer support services. It is far better to have this planned ahead than to find yourself rushing to do it.
- Use the two factor authentication tool on Gmail. The email provider has set up a two factor authentication system. Whereby the user not only provides their password, but also a secret code, heightening the security of your account.