How to Reduce Spam in Your Inbox and Enhance Your Email Security

Understand what Spam is and why it is a computer security risk. Discover simple tips and strategies to fight spam and reduce the security threat from email.

By Richard Rogers

Spam is the internet's equivalent of junk mail. Spam is defined as an email message sent to people without their consent or permission. Addresses of recipients are often harvested from Usenet postings or web pages, obtained from databases, or simply guessed by using common names and domains.

Spam is sent to promote practically any product or service ranging from 'Adult' material to logo design for websites. It is also used by hackers to spread viruses or links to dangerous websites that are used to gather your personal information such as credit card details or passwords for sites like Ebay or PayPal. To the average user these messages appear genuine. Even the link has a genuine looking domain name. This technique is known as 'phishing'.

Here are some smart strategies and tips you can employ now to start reducing Spam and boost your email security:

  • Configure your anti-virus software to automatically scan your incoming email for viruses. Email is still widely used to distribute malicious software. Make sure you keep your anti-virus software definitions up to date.

  • If you are someone that frequently signs up for "freebies" or other stuff on the internet start using a separate e-mail account just for this purpose. Accounts from providers like Yahoo!, Hotmail, and Google's Gmail all come with generous storage as standard.

  • If sites don't accept free email address from the services listed above then use a free disposable email service like 'Sneakemail'.

  • If you are posting your email to a blog or your website then submit it in a way that is only recognisable to a human. For example if your email is then post it as 'johnsmith at'.

  • Never open a message from an address you do not recognise - always delete it straight away. This is especially so if there is an attachment. Never reply to a message as this only confirms the email address is 'live' to the spammers.

  • If you get an official looking message from your bank, Ebay or another site that you are not sure is genuine here is what you do. Instead of clicking on the link embedded in the mail log on to the site normally via your browser. If there are any genuine problems you should get a message when you log on. Alternatively contact the site's customer service via the phone if possible.

  • Consider using standalone spam filtering software. This software analyses your email for common characteristics of spam email including words like 'click' or 'teens'. It also compares senders' emails against a 'Friends List'.

Richard Rogers is an owner of a number of computer related websites. One of his sites offers Free Computer Help for Windows XP Users.

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