Here are a few tips that can be used to minimise the amount of spam and unwanted mail:
- Don’t publish your work or your primary email address on any web site or discussion forum. If you do have to include your email address on a web site, obfuscate it ( e.g. write it as “myname –at- mycompany –dot- com” rather than “firstname.lastname@example.org”) or include it in an image file. This makes harvesting your email address much more difficult.
- Have a separate email address for signing up for newsletters, posting online, and for using at trade shows, etc, then if the mailbox starts receiving lots of unwanted mail, it can be deleted or more aggressively filtered.
- Block 97-99%+ of spam with McAfee Anti-Spam software. Installing McAfee Anti-Spam software should significantly reduce the amount of spam you receive.
- When unsubscribing from an unwanted email, the main rule to follow is: if you didn’t originally opt-in to receive it, or if you don’t recognise the sender / company sending the email, don’t unsubscribe, but blacklist the sender email address using your email client or AntiSpam software. Trying to unsubscribe from one spam email can start a flood of mail from other sources, so if you are unsure, it is best not to unsubscribe and block the mail another way.
- When unsubscribing from mail always check the links in the mail go to the correct company website and not a Phish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing) site.
- Do not reply to spam. The McAfee Anti-Spam Engineering team maintains a large number of spam traps (email addresses that have been seeded with spammers) and we frequently see people getting frustrated and replying to spam. This is a waste of time and just adds to the amount of unwanted mail someone else receives. The reason for this is the spammer will not be the “From” email address in the email. It is very easy to forge the sender of an email, and an alternative ‘Reply-to’ email address can also be included in an email.
For example, if a spammer had the following list of email addresses:
It is common that the spam sent to Peter@company1.com would appear to have been sent by Paul@company2.com, and the spam sent to Paul@company2.com would appear to have been sent by Jane@company3.com, so if Paul@company2.com sent a reply to the spam he recieved, he would just send more unwanted mail to Jane@company3.com, who did not really send the message but just happened to be in a spammers list of email addresses. For this reason replying to spam saying “stop spamming me!!!" or similar messages is a waste of time for both the sender and the unintended recipient.
- Most importantly, don’t buy anything from spammers. Spammers send millions of messages per day, usually using stolen bandwidth, they only require a few people to respond to the spam to make it profitable. If no-one bought things from spammers, sending spam would quickly become a waste of time and money for them.