The number of emails we receive daily is growing, and so are the number of unwanted emails. Spam emails can be frustrating to deal with, but what you think is spam, may actually be junk. Even though they both clog your inbox, the motives behind them, and how you deal with them, are very different.
Officially, spam is unsolicited and unwanted emails that are sent in bulk and often come from stolen or non-sensical email addresses. Examples of spam are:
- deceptive links to password resets (phishing attempts) and can appear to be from a legitimate businesses you regularly deal with;
- money fraud – lotto winnings, tax refunds, or an inheritance;
- dating scams.
Spam emails are malicious in intent, and their aim is to steal your accounts, dupe you out of money, or infect your system with malware to steal financial or other information.
Pamphlets or advertising that arrive in your letterbox are considered junk mail. These are genuine offers, but if they don’t interest you, they’re just annoying rubbish that ends up in the recycling.
Junk email is the electronic equivalent that ends up in your inbox. For instance, you’ll almost certainly start receiving emails or electronic ads after you make an online purchase. Although it may appear to be spam, especially if it is excessive, it is not unlawful (most of the time).
Junk email is legitimate and not malicious, just like junk mail. If you don’t want to receive them anymore, you can either file them away or simply click the unsubscribe button.
Using email filters
Most of today’s email programmes, like Gmail or Outlook.com, feature built-in email filters that can identify spam and automatically shift it to a ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ folder. They do this in a variety of ways, such as analysing the email’s content, assessing the sender’s reputation, looking up the sender’s IP address, domain, and spam-sending history. When you mark an item as spam, they also take user comments into account.
These filters aren’t flawless though, and sometimes a valid email gets flagged as spam or a spam email manages to get past the filter and end up in your inbox. Because of this, it is recommended to frequently check your spam folder for legitimate emails and mark them as ‘not spam’. When you do this, the email is moved to your inbox and the filter is trained to recognise similar emails in the future. Similarly, spam emails flagged as spam in your inbox are forwarded to your spam folder.
Use whitelists and blacklists to make sure you always get or always block specific emails or domains. Whitelists contain email addresses or domains you want to be sure you receive, whereas blacklists contain those you want to block.
It’s important that you and your staff understand the distinction between, and treatment of, spam and junk email for your business, as well as how to set up and make the most of email filters to safeguard your business. To learn more, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our knowledgeable team to learn more.