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Sending and receiving emails is one of the fastest and most credible ways to communicate. People have long realised this fact, and several email service providers have sprung up over the last few decades to fulfil people's yearnings in this regard.

Unfortunately, this has opened doors to one of the vices on the internet today, where people receive all sorts of messages from people they do not know. Worse still is that most of these emails are malicious, and where adequate care is not taken, people could fall prey to the antics of cyber attackers. This calls for learning what spam emails are and how to avoid them. Read on!

The Problems Spam Emails Cause

Email spam is also known as junk email, and it refers to emails sent to you even when unsolicited. The usual practice is to send such messages in bulk to a vast list of recipients.

Although real humans can send spam messages, oftentimes, it is a botnet that sends them. A botnet is a computer network infected with malware and controlled by one attacking party. Spamming is not limited to emails alone because spam messages can also be distributed through social media or text messages.

Inbox full of junk mail

For most people, there can't be a worse way to start their day than waking up to see their inboxes filled with spam. Unfortunately, this is one of the inevitable side effects of emailing as a means of communication.

Besides the fact that spam is annoying, you can get your email inbox choked up where important messages from real humans can get lost. This is usually the case with most people whose email inboxes don't have spam filters and when these spam messages are not regularly deleted.

Digital exploitation

Spammers or email spam senders constantly and cleverly alter their methods and messages. They trick their potential victims into downloading malware, sending money, or sharing data with them this way.

There is usually a financial motive behind spam emails. You will find spammers trying to promote or sell goods or services to you even if they are questionable, make claims far from being accurate, and lead recipients to believe something false.

A popular misconception people have is that spam is only an acronym, and it stands for "stupid pointless annoying malware." However, this term came from a well-known Monty Python Flying Circus sketch where the mention of canned meat products was repeatedly made.

More About Spam, Spambots, And Spammers

Spammers first need to create email distribution lists. They can achieve this by using spam bots to crawl all over the internet as they look for email addresses to use. Once these lists are created, usually in hundreds of thousands, they send junk emails to them all at once. Spam emails don't convert very well. In other words, only a few people fall for emails from these spammers.

Spammers know that only a few people will respond to their spam messages, but they get their way to a big payday with the sheer number of email addresses they can reach in one stroke. For this reason alone, spam has remained a big issue in the modern-day digital space.

The Most Common Spamming Techniques

There are different types of techniques that spammers use to send spam to the email addresses of people. Some of them include the following:


With botnets, spammers can use command-and-control servers to harvest email addresses and distribute spam.

Snowshoe spam

This technique allows spammers the chance to use any Internet Protocol or IP address from a vast list of addresses and email addresses. These addresses have neutral reputations so that they can distribute spam widely.

Blank email spam

Spammers use this technique to send emails with no subject line or message body. This technique could be used in a directory harvest attack to validate email addresses because they will be able to identify invalid bounced addresses.

Occasionally, blank and innocent-looking emails may contain worms and viruses. Such malicious content can be spread through Hypertext Markup Language code if the spammers embed it in the email.

Image spam

Image spam messages may be computer-generated and unintelligible to human readers. This way, they may be stored as Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) or Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) and inserted into the email body. This technique is to prevent text-based spam filters from filtering out the messages.

Different Types Of Spam

Different types of spam messages can be distributed in various forms. The type spammers decide to use is usually determined by their purpose and intent. Examples include the following:

Marketing messages

This type of spam message attempts to peddle illegal or unsolicited products or services to people. Such products or services may even include adult content at times.

Malware messages

The purpose of sending spam emails is to trick users into giving up personal information through the use of malware. The method can also be used to defraud or mislead users into taking some action they would typically not have done.

Antivirus warnings

This type of message is sent to warn users about a virus that just infected their device. They are then offered a solution to solve the problem for them. If the user takes the bait and clicks on the link sent in the email, the hacker immediately gains access and control over the system. It is also possible for the user to download a harmful file into the device during the process.

Sweepstake winners

Spammers may send emails announcing that recipients have won sweepstakes or some mouth-watering prizes. They are tricked into clicking on a link in the email they received if they want to redeem their prize. This link is malicious and designed to steal the user's personal information.

Steps To Prevent Malicious Spam Email Attacks

You may still get spam emails in your inbox, even with the strictest filters. In other words, there is no fool-proof method to stop spam emails totally. However, some steps you can take will help you stay out of the troubles they bring.

Don't click or respond to any links in spam email

Emails or email links that come from unauthentic sources should not be trusted. As such, you should not click or purchase at any time through the link presented within the email.

You should not click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. If you do any of these, you are confirming that the email address is valid and that an actual human is using it. If this happens, it may increase the probability of spam.

Check the email's header

Any time you receive an email, you should see a button on the right side which reads "view source," "show original," or "view full header." Ensure to take the time to read the from-address as well as the reply-to information given.

If both of these show the same domain name and you can confirm that the domain is authentic, you can continue with your activity. If, on the other hand, the from-address and reply-to do not have the same field, it may very well be the hint you need to know that the email is spam.

Load only text in an email

Spam emails usually have several creative uses, such as images or hidden links. One way to avoid accidentally clicking on these creatives is to disable the dynamic loading of your emails. Many mailbox providers have enabled this functionality, so you can keep it the same in that case.

Stop forwarding emails

When emails are forwarded, table-like structures are usually created in an email body where you will find from-name, recipient, from-address, recipients-cc, and reply-to. As soon as you forward an email, this type of table-like structure is created again.

If this process continues, it would be possible to see an email address list right from where it started. It becomes possible for spammers to crawl and harvest the names, email addresses, and content of all the email messages sent down this line.

Speak To An Online Safety Specialist

Spam emails can be dangerous because they can cheat and steal data from us. However, you should know that you can easily prevent them from wreaking havoc. You will stay safe if you don't share your email address anywhere on the internet and don't interact with these spam emails.

You may need to learn a little more about your email provider, as tweaking the settings can also improve your user experience and safety. Always talk to online safety or email security specialists for tips on being safe against digital attacks.

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