Short of leaving the internet entirely, dealing with spam is something that we’re all going to have to deal with.
Your first line of defence
Your first line of defence is with your incoming mail server. The mail server receives all emails routed to your address, and often takes this opportunity to scan for viruses, or filter out spam.
If you’re hosted with Eggplant Studios, we have a dynamic spam email filtering service available on our accounts. If you notice an increase in spam, or if you’re dealing with a lot of spam already, please contact us – we can up your tolerance (You can also do this from your hosting panel). This is a trainable service, so if you use IMAP, or the webmail client, simply moving spam emails to your spam folder will help teach your filter what is and isn’t spam.
If you’re using Office 365, Gmail, or another third-party email service, most of those employ the same server-level email filtering, and the settings are adjusted pretty frequently.
Staying Spam Free
Staying spam free requires a few key rules to ensure your email isn’t exposed to bots, email lists, or other methods of ‘acquiring’ your address. To that end, be sure you:
- Never expose your email address online – on your website, comments, forums, internet groups, blog, etc. Bots will often crawl through the internet looking for emails it can add to its list! Many business opt for using a contact form instead of offering their email. This may work for you, but note some people may be looking for an email instead – you must always make contacting you as easy as possible.
- Stay away from using info@, admin@, manager@, etc. Spammers will often try these emails to see if they’re in use, and when they see that they are are, the gigs up! Many businesses use their info@ as their public default account, and accept that it’s going to get a deluge of spam – while never publishing their personal emails, ensuring their day to day inboxes are nice and clean.
- Never respond to spam. No matter how badly you want to give them an earful, responding further confirms that there is a human on the other end. Never unsubscribe from an obvious spam email (unsubscribing from a legitimate newsletter is fine though). Unsubscribing from a spam list, which has already shown some shady morals, is further confirming that you’re an active account and makes your address even more valuable to spammers!
- Sign up to online services using a secondary email – never your personal one! Many businesses sign up to these services using their info@ account.
Spam works by generating, selling and collecting lists of active email addresses. Once you’ve made it on to a list it’s nearly impossible to get off. If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in spam, it’s very likely you’ve just been added to a new list, and they’re going full-steam ahead.
Email lists have worth to spammers. It may seem really useless to send spam – most of it gets caught, many of it gets deleted, and very, very few spam emails actually get clicks. But, it’s those rare clicks that keep them going. Consider that emails are essentially free to send, and the whole process is automated. Just one click in a ten thousand is potentially a good ROI.
Since there’s very little accountability with email, spammers can hop around to different IP addresses ensure that any blacklists placed on them don’t hold them back for too long.