How I Handle email spam

All of us receive email spam. The longer our companies exist, the more spam we get. So how should we cope with this?

All companies should have policies and procedures for handling spam. Pick an email client that provides you flexibility. I use Thunderbird, but I feel that Outlook is nearly as great. Set your email client to (a) look at headers only, (b) not download the entire body of an email until it’s opened, and (c) not download remote images or executable HTML.

Train your staff to not open any email where the header is obviously spam, and train them to not click on a link in an email however persuasive the email is. This will prevent a worker from accidentally exposing your systems to hacking or ransomware.

These are just the fundamentals. Ideally you’d never receive spam. Nevertheless, it’s always a balancing act in establishing an email client — limit too heavily and legitimate client emails may get caught and deleted.

The first line of defense is with your email provider, such as Gmail or your email hosting service. These providers normally allow some sort of spam trapping, either by blocking IP addresses from specific countries and regions, or by blocking blacklisted IP addresses. This is quite helpful, but treat it with care. Place these parameters too tight and you’ll never see customer emails which could be wrongly on a blacklist.

The following line of defense is the email client. An excellent one like Thunderbird can be used to detect spam and filter it into a spam folder. Thunderbird uses a self-learning technique. If you train it by marking emails as spam, it is going to automate the process and mark all similar ones as spam. Over time it becomes better and detects spam by analyzing the header and body when compared with the ones that you have agreed are spam. The benefit of doing this in the customer level is the spam folder is readily available, to confirm the contents are, in fact, spam.

Whatever defenses you have, sometimes you just get too much email and it simply takes a lot of time to wade through. Additionally, the more you market your email, or the more it’s a public address, the more spam mail lists you’ll get on. Thus occasionally you’ve got to attempt and eliminate the spam lists.

This is easier said than done.

1 method is to change email addresses. Abandon the old one to the spammers. Say, for example, you’d sales@xxxx — currently use orders@xxxx. It’s extremely effective, but I don’t enjoy it as it’s basically retreating.

Another method I have used is more competitive. Many emails have an unsubscribe link. Some folks advise never to utilize this, as it confirms your address exists, which will lead to more spam. But that’s not true in all instances. I’ve discovered that when I do a workout of unsubscribing from all the more professional looking emails, the quantity of my junk dips significantly for many months.

I report emails with no unsubscribe links to SpamCop, a service which assesses an email header and body and decides who sent it, and what website it’s promoting. This enables you to send a complaint email to each of the relevant ISPs and hosting companies. It may be surprising effective.

1 persistent email I get is from a professional service firm that has always ignored the unsubscribe link. However, the business lists a freephone (toll free) number. I call it and allow them to pay for the privilege of hearing my complaint — or simply listen to my own desktop music.

Spam will not go away. The actual answer in eliminating spam is to dismiss it. Spam would end if it had been 100 percent discounted and never responded to.

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