How To Identify Spam In Email

How-To Tips & Tricks

Despite messenger applications for personal chats and increasing use of instant messenger applications in corporate settings, Email remains the best and most widely used medium of exchanging professional or personal information and share multiple documents over the internet. Connecting servers across the globe, Emails help users to share all kinds of details, including the confidential ones without interference from a third person. However, being the most widely accepted information-sharing platform, Emails are also the most attacked medium as well.

Rate of Global Spam Distribution via Email Traffic 
Rate of Global Spam Distribution via Email Traffic  (Image Source: Statista)

According to the reports of Statista, in 2018, there were 3.8 billion active email users across the globe. This large base of users has attracted hackers and attackers, who intend to steal valuable information from users and then use it for illicit means or for extortion of ransom. As firewalls and anti-virus defense mechanisms grow better, hackers are also generating new methods to carry on their violations. This had made identifying spam in Email services rather a difficult task.

Though organizations can afford to build a 24×7 working firewall against spam and hacking attempts, it may not be that easy for individual users. So, they should be aware of certain red flags that can help them detect and identify any spam in their Email. This ultimately prevents theft of their personal or credit information associated with that mail.

How to identify Spam Email

What Is Spam?

Spam in Email
Image Source: PC World

Email Spam generally refers to the unsolicited emails that are sent to a mail recipient for commercial reasons. In Spamming, marketers first get your addresses from social media accounts or from any app or service you’ve registered to. Then they tend to market themselves or their products by sending you emails in bulk. Now, these spam email addresses may not always be dangerous. Some of the spam emails are just an attempt by some impatient group of marketers to annoy you with unwanted emails. But now, Spamming has gone broad and bigger. Hackers use Spamming as a means of sending emails consisting of malicious files, folders, or links. Phishing attacks are also carried out as Spamming, wherein hackers tend to steal your personal information and credit information against pushing some fake or fraudulent offer.

Here are some measures you can take to identify spam in Email inboxes of yours. These steps would ensure that you aren’t drawn into an email that may harm your system or your account:

1. Check Email Addresses

Email Spoofing
Image Source: LifeWire

To identify spam in email, you first need to ensure that the sender of a particular mail has not spammed email address. There are instances when users receive multiple promotional emails from various marketers. Most of the genuine marketers who use Google as their mail portal purchase their own G-Suite and register a domain name after their firm. For example, the email addresses of Amazon employees would always be in the format – name@amazon.com. Not name@gmail.com. Users usually don’t bother to read domain names, and that’s where they fail to detect a spam mail address. This faking of email resembling addresses is also called Email Spoofing. There are several cases of fraud where fraudsters use fake or made-up email addresses to hijack user accounts. So, always be sure that any mail attachment or link sent to you is from an authentic email address before opening it on your system. It can be malicious spam that you can detect via the email address.

2. Do Not Open Archive Files

One of the easiest ways to identify spam emails is to see whether there is an archive file sent to you from an unknown account. Archive files are concealed in folder formats such as ZIP, RAR, 7Z. Now, when you download the concealed files within the archive folder, your system anti-malware or anti-virus scanner may not be able to detect spam in that mail sent via the folder. If there is any malicious program the sender has attached to the folder, it may hamper your system privacy in multiple manners. Moreover, it may also hold a command control file that would provide remote control of your system to the hacker unbeknownst to you.

3. Refrain from Mails Asking for Personal Information or Payment Credentials

One of the most famous spams that were identified is the Netflix email spam of 2018. In this case, there was an email that was distributed via a spammed email address asking for users’ billing information. The email content was designed quite well, with the interface copied from regular promotional emails from Netflix.  The email claimed that Netflix itself is facing issues with concerned user’s billing information and wants the user to re-update the billing credentials through a link provided in the mail.

Netflix Phishing Scam 2018
Image Source: Federal Trade Commission

Users also identified spam in Gmail accounts started in the name of Apple Inc. The identified spam email sent a fake bill of a transaction through the App Store and asked the user to follow a link to view the invoice for the same. Every user who visited the link faced an “Apple ID Blocked” message and was then asked to enter personal information to unlock it. The scammers had looted identities of hundreds of Apple consumers by the time the spam was detected.

Apple Phishing Scam
Image Source: WestStar Multimedia Ent.

Users mustn’t share any information in response to any such emails. The companies of such stature as Netflix and Apple have separate and secured portals for such procedures. And any update on billing information is not asked via mail. So, to look out for such phishing emails to identify spam in emails and refrain from giving away your personal information.

4. Beware of Extensions

Malicious extensions
Image Source: How-To Geek

To understand how to identify spam in emails, one should be aware of red flags associated with extension files. Injecting virus through malicious extensions files is the most common email spams’ examples. While the most common extension used to inject malware in systems via mail is EXE, there are others you should be aware of as well. These file extensions should not be run on the system if sent via an email. They can be highly capable of infiltrating your system files and even disabling your antivirus measures. Here are a few extensions you should refrain from running on your system, especially if they are attached with a commercial mail:

  • CMD: .cmd files represents the Windows NT command processor.
  • MSI: Installer Package Files
  • REG: registry Files
  • BAT: DOS batch files consisting of codes to launch or execute Windows applications.
  • DOCM, XLSM, PPTM: MS-Office Files with macros.

5. Detect Spam by Analyzing Mail Content

Email Scams
Image Source: LifeWire

Users often receive emails regarding credit card approvals from the bank, or some coupon offers from your favorite brand stores, or maybe giveaways by your favorite gadget company. Your accounts are connected with all sorts of online shopping platforms, ticket-booking, and food-ordering applications you download on your phone. Your choices and searches from these applications are tracked by advertisers; for example, you see similar ads of the products you search for on Facebook. Sometimes, these records are gathered by hackers from various mediums. They then use tactics like fake promotional offers and free giveaways for products/services from your searches. This is done to lure you into providing them with your account credentials and other information in exchange for such fake offers. This is then further misused for unauthorized transactions, identity theft crimes, and document forgery under your name.

Therefore, to identify spam in your email, users must go through the content and analyze whether that makes sense or not.

6. Use Third-Party Tool to Prevent Spam Dangers

Dangerous Mail Attachments
Image Source: Kaspersky

Though the red flags explained above are the most common ones to keep in mind while detecting spam in the mail. But, there are spamming attempts that go unnoticed and then, of course, there are sites which we should not offer access to our location or email address. Saving passwords on the browser can also result in spam attacks on your system for those passwords.

To ensure that your system is protected from all spam dangers and can identify spam in email attachments and browsers, one must use an identity protector tool. Advanced Identity Protector is a great software that helps you protect your personal information and account credentials saved on internet browsers. Such information can be used lethally against you if leaked and can create legal and financial issues for you.

In this regard Advanced Identity Protector offers the following services to keep your online presence secured of a different kind of spam:

  • Advanced Identity Protector scans your browsers for identity traces on the sites you’ve visited. These traces include saved passwords, email IDs, and credit information. Many hackers gather IDs from the saved details on browsers and carry mass phishing attacks.

  • The saved passwords and identity traces can be deleted using Advanced Identity Protector. The tool has an in-built Secure Vault, where you can save your passwords before deleting them from browsers. The vault is accessed via a master key.
  • Advanced Identity Protector runs on Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Browser, and Chrome. So, all your identity traces on any of these browsers can be detected and deleted.

  • Advanced Identity Protector also helps in detecting spam in email clients Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Advanced Identity Protector also scans through Windows Registry for sensitive personal information, a process that is very tricky if tried manually.

Identifying spam in mail using these straightforward red flags is easier. Keeping in mind these red flags can save you from spam attacks such as unwanted commercial emails, email spoofing,  and phishing attempts. However, it is our carelessness over the internet that leads these attackers to our personal IDs and other information. Using Advanced Identity Protector can help you avoid those mistakes. By rooting out all identity traces from browser activities, it helps you achieve secure and safe browsing and internet surfing. Besides, it helps you in saving multiple passwords, so that you don’t have to use similar passwords for all accounts, which, in turn, is dangerous for your internet identity.

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