Spam is mass e-mails, e-g mailings of advertising, disseminated on the Internet. These spam emails are sent to millions of unsolicited email addresses.
Most spam is commercial and can be divided into several categories:
- commercial spam
- chain letters, virus warnings, computer hoaxes
- emails sent by viruses
- phishing emails
The origin of the e-mail addresses to which spam is sent is varied, but four main categories stand out:
Address collector (or reaper): These are small programs that visit websites for e-mail addresses, in guest books or the Contact section of websites.
Contests: Contests (in shopping centres, in the street, in the press or on the Internet) are ideal for collecting e-mail addresses. Keep this in mind and read the fine print conditions on contest entry forms.
Address vendor: Address data, including e-mail addresses, may also be acquired from address vendors. Address data is legally purchased by companies who resell them to other companies who use them for advertising purposes.
Not only is spam nasty because it floods your inbox with unwanted messages, but it can also be dangerous. Spam in HTML format can, for example, contain potentially dangerous scripts. It is not excluded that the spam the sender of the message thus tries to steal access data or passwords. It can also send you potentially dangerous messages, containing scripts, viruses or the like that activate on your system.
Thus, it is important to apply the following rules:
Never respond to spam
Never follow the instruction asking you to remove your email address from the spam mailing list. You would just confirm to the sender that they have a valid address. And then you would be inundated with unwanted emails.
If possible, never use your “normal” address in discussion groups, guest books, forums, etc. Instead, use alias addresses from another domain, which you create for these purposes only, for example.
Enter your e-mail address as little as possible.
Give your personal email address only to people with whom you really want to communicate. For forums, guest books, etc., use alias addresses that you can delete after use. Otherwise, you can just configure the address to reject all incoming emails.
Do not click on any links or images in spam emails, as this will only confirm to the sender that your address exists.
Never open files, for example, images, if you are not completely confident in them. Images and other files can, for example, contain potentially dangerous scripts. It is possible that the sender of the message will use spam to try to steal your password. It can also send you potentially dangerous messages, containing scripts or similar elements that activate on your system.
On your site, post your address as an image so that it cannot be read automatically. Don’t be fooled by false Subject or Subject lines. Ignore hoaxes and phishing emails.
As a consumer, if you receive email advertising from a supplier, notify the sender that you are a consumer, that you no longer wish to receive advertising emails and that they are prohibited without the prior consent of the recipient. If these measures go unheeded, you can file a complaint against the company.
If you receive advertising emails as a business, you can also let the sender know that their advertising is spam. It is legally difficult to establish whether the supplier’s behaviour is illegal and liable to prosecution.
Actions you can also take
You can find out which computer the spam was sent from. In most cases, this is not the address specified in the Sender field. To unmask the true sender, some knowledge of how e-mail traffic works on the Internet is required.
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