What Is Spam Email? How to Get Rid of Spam Emails?
Emails are basically electronic messages that are delivered over a network.
What is spam email?
Spam emails are emails that a recipient receives without their anticipation or knowledge. They are called unsolicited bulk emails. Unsolicited commercial email (UCE) or unsolicited bulk email (UBE) are both referred to as "spam" on the internet. Some individuals call this type of communication "junk email" because it is similar to the paper junk mail they get in their physical mail. Unsolicited email frequently contains ads for services or goods, although only a small percentage of respectable marketers utilize UCE to promote their products. In addition to advertisements, Spam emails come carrying malicious content that may lead to the compromise of company or individual classified data.
Is Spam Email Malware?
When the term "malicious software" is mentioned, people will most likely grasp it better. Malicious software, sometimes known as malware, is any application that aims to harm your device(s) in some way.Spam could be malicious or not. Spam is described as unsolicited and undesired messages sent to a large number of people.
What is the history of Spam
The history of spam can be followed up until 1864, when it is speculated that the very first unsolicited emails were already transmitted via telegraph. These messages were questionable investment offers targeted at the rich demographic in the USA. The history of spam continues when in the year 1978 May 3rd, Gary Thuerk who was at that time working for Digital Computer Corp, ran an open house spam email campaign to showcase the company’s new VAX computers. 400 of the 2600 individuals who had ARPANET(The DARPA-funded military computer network that preceded the Internet) email accounts fell victim to this campaign however, it was not a malicious campaign but an advertising campaign which irritated some of the victims who in turn complained to the department of defense, who were running ARPANET. It is believed that the campaign generated millions of dollars in revenue.
The name spam was not used, up until the 80s whereby on the then regional social forums, users would output the terms spam on the chat feature so as to drown each other out.
Spam, which is a type of food,is used to refer to loud annoying messaging. Going forward to the 90s, spamming became more widespread with the steady rapid growth of the internet. With 1999 culminating in the largest malicious spamming campaign of the 20th century. This was mainly through the spread of the virus Melisa which was embedded on Microsoft word documents macros. It went through the contact list of its victims and again spammed the victims contact list. The FBI reported that it caused 80million in damages.
Because of no resistance, the number of professional spammers grew immensely up until the early 2000s when governments across the globe started getting serious with the spamming menace. At the same time top email service providers were working hard to improve the spam filtering on their platform.
A rogue gallery of spammers, including the Spam King, were arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned as a result of sending unsolicited emails or selling penny stocks, bogus watches, and questionable pharmaceuticals, which goes ahead to show the indirect negative impact of unsolicited emails
We're still combating the issue of unwanted, harmful email and other digital communication, despite the best efforts of politicians, law enforcement, and technology corporations. The truth is that spam needs little effort on the part of spammers, that few spammers really go to jail, and that there is a lot of money to be made.
What is The Purpose of Spam Email?
Spam is a typical method of committing email fraud. A well-known example is an advance-fee scam, in which a user receives an email with an offer that purports to result in a reward. The fraudster provides a scenario in which the victim is required to provide immediate financial help in order for the fraudster to obtain a much bigger sum of money, which they will subsequently share. The fraudster will either fabricate new fees or cease answering once the victim has made the money. Phishing emails, which are emails masquerading as official communication from banks, online payment processors, or any other business a user may trust, are another type of fraudulent spam.
Another purpose of “spam campaigns''as it is observed companies still use these campaigns, is because of its cheapness and ability to reach a large number of people. Spam emails are usually sent out for either advertising purposes, communication or malicious practice. The end goal most of the time is to gain a commercial advantage.
Why Do You Get Spam Emails?
Your email address ended up on a list that was sold to one or more spammers, which is the most common cause of an unexpected surge of spam in your email account. This occurs when you enter your email address into a field that appears to be safe but is actually a method for collecting email addresses.
In this era of massive technological revolution, cybersecurity experts have discerned that the foremost weakest link in securing a system is the human resource i.e.me via phishing. Phishing is the term used in cybersecurity jargon meaning the act of sending malicious emails carrying malicious links with the aim of having a gullible end-user with/without privilege surrender vital information. In such a situation the phishing email qualifies as a spam email, however, spam emails do not necessarily bear malicious intent, spam emails may also be as a result of running advertising campaigns on products in order to gain a commercial advantage.
If you fill out online forms or contact with specific companies via email, you may receive spam. Although most respected websites have solid privacy policies and will not sell your information to spammers, it is up to you to determine which websites you trust not to sell your address to spammers.
Is Spam Email Dangerous?
Spam emails are usually dangerous depending on the content they carry, for instance, a spam email may carry a malicious link and bears some indication of urgency hence they could be a trick email. This shows the direct dangers of spam emails. The indirect dangers of the same could be that once your email is used in a spam campaign, it renders the data tied to your email open to more attacks as the integrity of the sender is not guaranteed.
Spam emails contain third party applications such as spyware that can be used to steal information from your computer. They can be used to steal sensitive financial records or personal information. It may also contain ransomware in which the intruder locks or steals information from a Computer. The intruder will demand money in exchange
Spam emails consume a large bandwidth especially if it's embedded with a malicious payload. The payloads take a lot of storage space and processing time. Internet speeds would improve vastly if spam mails could be stopped. Cyber criminals use phishing spam emails to hook their target by displaying fake websites.
What Are The Types of Spam Email?
Spam emails are normally categorized according to the following types:
- Antivirus Warnings
- Sweepstakes Winners
- Money Scams
- Email Spoofing
- Commercial Advertisements
We'll explain each of the Spam email types below.
Figure 1. What Are The Types of Spam Email
1. Antivirus Warnings
Antivirus alerts are ironically commonly used as a spam tactic. These emails warn you about an infection of the computer virus and provide a response to the supposed cyber threat (of antivirus scan). But if you use the bait and the link, you can allow your system to be accessed by the hacker or download a malicious file.
Figure 2. Macros enabled spam word document
This is an example of a macros enabled spam word document that once you click on enabled content you will have the macro to execute which In this case is payload that gives root access to your computer.
Fake antivirus warnings are usually directed to the victim as a link or as an attachment and are delivered as spam emails. Usually the spam email itself employs
Techniques of social engineering so as for users to execute or click the attached file without proper knowledge or understanding of their actions. There are different and specific campaigns used to deliver messages with password reset and scams such as "You got an e-card voucher."
Examples of spam email campaigns that spread fake antivirus warnings include:
- Account suspension scams: Victims receive an email that says they have terminated their access to a particular account and need the execution of the attached file to resolve the problem
- Gift card scams: An email supposedly from a legit gift card company is received. A fake antivirus installer is actually attached.
- Password reset scams: Victims will receive a message from a popular website, telling them they've been reset and the new password will be included in the accompanying file.
- Delivery of packages scam: An attached file contains details about a recent postal delivery. In fact, the attachment installs fake antiviruses.
2. Sweepstakes Winners
Spammers will send you an email telling you that you’ve won a prize in a competition that more often than not you do not recall entering a draw or competition of any sort, this is all done to achieve malice or as a form of data collection. How to spot a sweepstake scam is to check the email address which the notification was sent when you receive a winning notice by email.
Sweepstake scams have a characteristic of soliciting a fee so as to award the winner, they play a card in order to push the victim into hurrying into their elaborate scheme.
We include dubious offers and miraculous promises in this sort of spam, they may include promises such as "become rich in less than a month" or "get the physique of your dreams by eating more and working out less". Spammers commonly utilize this technique to keep your interest and direct you to a dangerous website. The best term used to refer to this type of spam is
3. Money Scams
Money scams are a menace that costs the globe billions in losses, there are a myriad of elaborate scams carried out by scammers, sometimes scammers come up with a fabricated appeal In need of dire help with an aim of luring people with a goodwill into contributing to their cause. This falls under categories of spam since scammers will run spam campaigns so as to achieve maximum profit. Another money scam scammers may use are the ones that they identify a problem that has gained a lot of press and now prey on gullible people in a bid to offer a rescue remedy. The scammers will run a spam campaign include:
- Fake Business Opportunities: These scams give us the chance to make a lot of money with little effort. They usually have many enticing phrases such as 'Work hours a week,' 'Be a boss of your own,'' “Set the time”,''Work from home." In most cases, the email contains very few details on the nature of the business. Most provide a website or address where you can get a "information kit" for a fee. However, these opportunities are usually just pyramid schemes where your ability to recruit more individuals into the scam is part of "opportunity" . The scam is eventually exposed and the pool of new recruits is left high and dry.
- Discount software scams: These frauds are often used by advertising for inexpensive versions of commercial software such as Windows XP and Photoshop. Discount Software Scammers either do not provide the promised software or provide illegal, pirated versions preloaded using Trojan horse software that can be used by scammers or other malicious people to operate your computer and the details it contains. .The discounts offered can be very difficult to not believe thus having many recipients fall for the trick scam.
- Foreign exchange scams: You get an email from a "government minister" (or his widow), a lawyer representing a deceased overseas client, or a business owner who wants to deposit money into your bank account from a distant country. There are numerous variations on the concept, but they all have the same catch. To begin, you must pay their "transaction fees," sometimes known as "taxes." You should STOP in your tracks whenever you have to transmit money to collect a large windfall. The allure of a large sum of money is strong, but there is none. It's a ruse. The truth is that they are attempting to defraud you, it is advised that one should never respond to such spam emails.
4. Email Spoofing
Email spoofing has been a problem since the 1970s due to the way email protocols work. Spammers were the first to utilize it to get around email filters. In the 1990s, the problem got increasingly widespread, and in the 2000s, it became a global cybersecurity issue.
To combat email spoofing and phishing, security standards were implemented in 2014. Many spoofed email messages are now routed to user spamboxes or are rejected and never forwarded to the recipients' inboxes as a result of these protocols.
Email spoofing is a technique used to trick people into thinking a message came from a person or entity they can trust or know about in spam attacks. The sender forges email headers during spoofing attacks in order to show customer software the fraudulent sending address, which most users take with face value. Users view the forged sender in a message, without closer inspection of the header.
An attacker could, for example, send an email that appears to be from PayPal. The notification informs the user that if they do not click a link, authenticate on the site, and change their password, their account will be suspended. If the user is successfully duped and enters credentials, the attacker now has the credentials to get into the targeted person's PayPal account and potentially steal money.
More sophisticated loots target financial staff and rely on social engineering techniques and online reconnaissance to dupe a user into paying millions of dollars to an attacker's bank account.
An example of a spoofed email :
The sender address is entered automatically when a user sends a new e-mail message via a typical e-mail client like (Microsoft Outlook). However, an attacker can programmatically send messages in any language that sets the sender address to the preferred email address via basic scripts. Endpoints of the email API will allow a sender to enter the sender address irrespective of the location. And outgoing email servers are unable to decide if the sender address is legitimate.
How this works is Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is used to retrieve and route outgoing email (SMTP). The message is first sent to a customer's outgoing SMTP server when a user clicks "Send" on an email client. The Server SMTP identifies and routes the domain to the email server of the domain. The email server of the receiver routes the message to the appropriate user box.
Email spoofing is usually almost synonymous with phishing, direct or indirect, where the recipients are profiled based on their work or financial status. Work status since the spammers may be looking to get into an infrastructure’s network while financial status is for the purposes of stealing funds. Nonetheless spoofing is a type of computer virus attack in which someone takes the information of a valid user and impersonates them. It's a form of identity fraud. This technique is commonly used to compromise the security of large systems or steal critical information from users whereas
Phishing is a type of social engineering exploit in which a person impersonates a real individual or entity to gain important information from a user. Both spoofing and phishing are used together to achieve the same goal of stealing information.
The Reply-To field is another component frequently used in phishing. This field can also be configured from the sender and used for phishing. The Reply-To address indicates where a reply can be sent to the client email software that is different from its sender address. Again, SMTP protocol and email servers fail to validate the legitimacy of the email. The user must realize that the answer is the wrong receiver.
5. Commercial Advertisements
The first example of commercial spam was recorded in history thanks to For the very first unsolicited mass email, Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corp. Thuerk sent an email to 393 individuals who had not opted into the advertisement over ARPANET (the precursor to the Internet) in 1978 to promote a new computer model.
Businesses will often subscribe you to their newsletter by default or your unknowing choice when they collect your email address as a low-cost strategy to market their products. This is an act that is prohibited as the companies need to deal with such emails as per the conduct required.
However, several businesses have suffered as a result of people mistaking their email advertisements for spam. Others promote those businesses by using spam techniques to promote their items, which is an abusive use of people' e-mail addresses. In general, spam systems divide emails into wanted and unwanted messages; desirable messages are sent to the inbox, while unwanted messages are sent to the spam box. Anti-spam systems frequently make errors in their estimations, despite the fact that their importance in terms of privacy, security, and defending emails from attacks cannot be overstated.
What are The Ways to Stop Spam Email?
Spam emails, often known as junk mail, are unsolicited bulk-sent email messages that arrive in an inbox without the recipient's permission. You are most likely bombarded with spam and marketing emails on a daily basis. There is, however, one distinction between spam and marketing messages: authorization.
There are a few things you can do to assist reduce the amount of spam emails you get. So, here are five easy steps you may take to reduce spam email.
Figure 3. How to get rid of spam emails
1. Mark as Spam
After the growth of the internet, in the early 2000s top email providers would take a keen interest in how they filter spam emails, and this culminated in the introduction of marking/reporting dubious emails as spam. It can be done manually in that the recipient marks an email as spam or known spam emails go into ‘spam emails’ making it harder for the recipient to interact with the email since it is already hidden from the immediate user interface. A more radical approach to spam control is blocking email delivery while transporting messages from suspicious mail servers. Being able to configure your mail server as mails from a suspicious server is no longer acceptable because a particular mail server is often used for sending spam.
2. Delete Spam Emails
When it comes to spam emails, there's a golden rule: if it looks like spam, it usually is, therefore delete it without clicking or downloading anything. Such emails may contain software that informs the sender a user has opened the email, therefore, indicating a user has an active account. This will result in the victim receiving even more spam emails. Some malware programs can take your email address and use it to resend spam messages as if it were coming from a real address. Imposters could impersonate someone you know, such as a friend, relative, or coworker. If the communication appears to be from someone you know, get in touch with them outside of your inbox.
3. Keep Your Email Address Private?
Try to retain emails in private and avoid posting them on public forums such as social media or disclosing them on websites with doubtful legitimacy. You need a fake account on a site, such as TempMail, to keep your real account safe, if you want a site email address to use but do not wish to have your real email address. The
Blur plugin Chrome and Firefox is also a good, free alternative that retains your private address.
4. Use a third-party spam filter
Email service providers are built with spam filters nowadays but they may not be perfect as they mark some emails as spam erroneously or fail to filter an actual spam email. For this reason, one would have to introduce a trusted third-party spam filter. You could also train these spam filters to identify spam efficiently both the third party or the primary email service provider. Examples are "pricing through processing" and "selling interrupt rights" for filter communication channels. These approaches are free of filter, so as to not block/filter messages as soon as they fulfill the 'entry criteria.' This means that computers don't need to calculate email legitimacy.
5. Change your email address
Once you feel your email address is being bombarded by spam email addresses more often, it could be an indication that your email address has been overly publicized. Thus you may choose to change your email address.
What are The Laws About Spam in Countries?
The CAN-SPAM Act establishes the regulations for commercial e-mail, authorizes commercial e-mails, gives recipients the ability to opt-out of receiving emails, and punishes violators severely.
In America the congress in its findings saw that:-
Electronic mail has grown in importance and popularity in recent years, with millions of Americans using it on a daily basis for personal and business purposes. Its low cost and worldwide accessibility make it incredibly simple and efficient, and it provides unique prospects for frictionless commerce expansion and growth.
The convenience and efficiency of electronic mail are under threat as the volume of unsolicited commercial electronic mail grows at an alarming rate. Unsolicited commercial electronic mail now accounts for almost half of all electronic mail traffic, up from 7% in 2001, and the amount is growing. In one way or another, the majority of these messages are fake or deceitful.
Receiving unwanted commercial electronic mail may incur expenses for receivers who are unable to decline such mail and must pay for storage, time spent accessing, evaluating, and deleting such mail, or both.
Receiving a large number of unwanted messages reduces the convenience of electronic mail and increases the risk of wanted electronic mail messages, both commercial and noncommercial, being lost, overlooked, or discarded amidst the larger volume of unwanted messages, reducing the reliability and usefulness of electronic mail to the recipient.
Certain commercial electronic mail contains content that may be considered vulgar or sexual by some recipients. Because there is a finite amount of mail that such providers, businesses, and educational and nonprofit institutions can handle without additional infrastructure investment, the growth in unsolicited commercial electronic mail imposes significant monetary costs on providers of Internet access services, businesses, and educational and nonprofit institutions that carry and receive such mail.
Many senders of unsolicited commercial electronic mail conceal the origin of their messages.
Many unsolicited commercial electronic mail senders include deceptive material in their messages on purpose.
While some commercial electronic mail message senders provide simple and reliable ways for recipients to reject (or "opt-out") receiving commercial electronic mail from them in the future, others either do not provide such a mechanism or refuse to honor recipients' requests not to receive electronic mail from them in the future, or both.
Many bulk unsolicited commercial electronic mail senders utilize computer programs to collect huge numbers of electronic mail addresses on an automatic basis from Internet websites or online services where users are required to enter their addresses in order to access the website or service.
Many states have passed laws aimed at regulating or reducing unwanted commercial electronic mail, although the criteria and requirements vary.
In part, because an e-mail address does not indicate a geographical location, it may be extremely difficult for law-abiding companies to know which of these disparate statutes they have to comply
with. As a consequence, it does not appear that they were successful in resolving the problems associated with unwanted commercial electronic mail.
Federal regulation alone will not be able to tackle the difficulties connected with the fast development and misuse of unsolicited commercial electronic mail.
Figure 4. CAN-SPAM's main requirements
Most European countries as well as American saw it fit that senders of bulk emails should:
Avoid false or misleading header information. - The law prohibits using clickbait that are intended to mislead the recipient.
Avoid deceptive subject lines. - in a bid to mislead the masses, spammers use deceptive jargon to get what they are looking for. Thus the need to prohibit such acts.
Identify the message as an ad.- commercial advertisements are required to have their messages as an ad since in a bid to have cheaper ad campaigns they result in having to run spam campaigns.
Indicate your location. – bulk email senders are required to show where they are located.
Inform recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.- Your message has to clearly explain how the recipient can choose in future to receive an email from you. Create a message in a way that is easy to recognize, read and understand by an ordinary person. Creative use of size, color and place can enhance clarity.
Honor opt-out requests promptly.- companies fail to honor an opt-out option after a recipient has chosen to opt-out and proceed to send emails, this is prohibited and an opt-out should be honored promptly.
Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. – it is the assumption that whatever a third party they contract to run their campaigns does is up to them, in that should they go against the spam regulation rules , the company is not to blame. This is addressed by this law so that companies know that they also bare the consequences of violations done on their behalf.