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How to stop spam, part I: Stay under the spam radar

The economics of spam is enough to make you cry. All these Viagra salesmen and mortgage scammers are salivating over their computers, knowing that if they can find one sucker in ten million inboxes, they’ll make some profit — never mind the misery endured by you and all the millions of others who DON’T fall for the pitch.

According to research from Kaspersky Labs, 66% of your mail flow is spam—and 3% of those messages actually have malicious attachments along for the ride.

Intermedia works with McAfee to provide enterprise-grade defense against spam and viruses. But no system is foolproof. And until we can stop spam at the source (how we all dream of global SWAT teams kicking down their doors!), the war against spam needs you to participate.

So here’s the first of three articles that describe how to protect yourself and your business against malicious spam.

Strategy #1: Be stealthy

The first thing a spammer needs is a bunch of email addresses.

They get their addresses a number of ways: they mine leaked account databases, they purchase lists from other spammers, or they utilize harvesting software to collect addresses from across the web.

You want to make sure your email address doesn’t get on their lists to begin with. Here are a few things you can do right now to ensure your email address isn’t in the hands of spammers.

  1. Google your email address and purge the results. This results will show you websites on which your email address is visible. And if you can see it, so can the spammers. When you do find results, contact site administrators to request removal.
  2. Don’t let them know your address is alive. Many of the addresses on spam lists don’t work. Those may eventually get purged out of their systems. The worst thing you can do is demonstrate to a spammer that your address DOES work. So don’t reply to spam. Don’t interact with it. Just delete it.  
  3. Be careful what you sign up for. Before subscribing to an email list, do a little research. See if you can uncover how the list is managed.  A couple questions to consider: Have they been reported for for selling email addresses? Is there an unsubscribe process? Is there a process for confirming your subscription? If something seems fishy, don’t take the risk.
  4. Use throw-away addresses. If you have to sign up for suspect mailing lists, consider creating a dummy Yahoo or Google email address. Once it fills up with spam, you can abandon it without losing any real emails.

If you want to learn more about how Intermedia protects the nearly 750,000 Exchange email boxes we manage, learn more about our McAfee Email Defense Suite.

Read Part II of How to Stop Spam.

About Ryan Chau

Ryan Chau oversees the technical support team at Intermedia. He has nearly ten years of support experience.