Spam may be defined as unsolicited bulk and commercial messages (i.e. Email/SMS etc). Spam is ‘unsolicited’ which means that there is no prior relationship between the parties concerned and the recipient has not personally consented to receive the communication. Spam mails can be annoying and it can include bogus offers and requests that could cost you time and money.
Unlike traditional junk mail in the past, which has a postage cost associated with it, spam is nearly free for perpetrators. It typically costs the same to send 10 postal messages as it does to send 10 million spam emails now.
The absence of spam in the Indian law and the desire to protect free speech makes legal solutions more difficult to be implemented.
Threats from spam
• Trojan Horses – Disguises itself within the fake downloads and links
• Zombies – Turn computers or laptop into servers that spam other computers
• Phishing – Tricks you into entering personal information, thereby chances of losing, privacy, reputation and money
• Internet Scams – Pretending that you won some prize, job, romance, and e-commerce frauds
How to identify spam
• Requesting Personal Information – Sender requests personal information like address, Aadhar or Pan Card details, or banking-related information
• Irregular, Unfamiliar Email Address – Email has suspicious domain name or uses uncommon characters. Many fake emails come from people posing as government officials, banking officials or legitimate companies
• Messages that require Immediate Attention – Subject of emails contain words like, “Need Attention”, “Reply”, “Opportunity”, “Immediate” “Expiry Date” and “Urgent”
• Email contains typos – Fake emails will contain basic typos and errors like misspelling name, wrong salutation, or have poor grammar usage
• Spoofed Email Address – Email address looks very similar to that of known sender. For example, email address may replace the letter “m” with the number “rn”
Marking as spam
Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail and other Business Email Operations have built-in algorithms that can filter spam into a separate folder. If you still see plenty of spam in you rinbox, here is how you can get rid of them.
• Gmail – Click Report Spam or manually move the mail into Spam folder. Gmail also automatically identifies suspicious emails and puts spam warning labels (In Red Colour)
• Apple Mail – You can click Report Spam, Click on the “X” marked trash can (Junk Mail) icon
• Yahoo Mail – You can click Report Spam (Click on the shield icon) or manually move an email into your Spam folder. Yahoo also identifies suspicious emails and puts them in Spam folder by default
• Microsoft Outlook – Click on the checkbox before the email and click on Junk Email Options in the menu (Junk Icon – Circle Cross Button)
Keeping yourself private
* Gmail – Go to the Security Check-up option to see the devices, security events, and other email addresses and devices connected to your Gmail account. Adjust the toggle switches to turn features on or off based on your choices. Also please check Personal Information and Privacy Settings.
* Apple Mail – Click the apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen -> Click on System Preferences -> Click on the Security and Privacy option.
* Yahoo Mail – Click on the gear icon -> Click the Account Information option -> In the Account Security section -> click on the Generate app password option.
* Microsoft Outlook – Click on your account icon in the upper right corner of the screen -> In the menu list, click My Account -> Click on the Privacy and Security options to change the settings
Getting red off spam mail
* Implement good computer security practices and disconnect (log off) from the internet when you’re away from your computer or not using the computer.
* Be cautious about opening any unsolicited attachments or download files or links from emails you receive. Don’t open an email attachment, even if it looks like it’s from a friend or from a legitimate source unless you are expecting it or you know what it is.
* Download free software only from trusted sources. It can be appealing to download free software i.e. games, file sharing, scanners programs, and other custom free business applications.
* Unsubscribe From Unwanted Email – Chances are, you might miss an important email in the midst of spam. Use the unsubscribe option and the link is generally buried at the bottom of the message having a link leading to customising your subscriptions.
(The author is the founder of End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org)
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