Where spam comes from and how to avoid it

Tue 19 March 2013 12:30, Tamara Yadvichuk

“About 50% of all junk mail on the net emerges from just 20 internet service providers“, BBC reports. According to a recent study, some IPSs could be classed as “bad neighborhoods” because they are more likely to bring malicious activity to your mailbox.

Where spam comes from and how to avoid it

A study of over 42,000 internet service providers recently conducted in the Netherlands found that half of all junk mail comes from only 20 networks. Many of these “bad networks” are located in India, Vietnam and Brazil. The IPS labeled “the most crime-ridden network” is Spectranet in Nigeria – 62% of its email addresses were caught spamming.

This study can be very useful for email service providers who should be twice as careful with mail coming from the “bad neighborhoods”, but it does not offer a lot of help for email users. So, while waiting for email clients to use these findings to improve their spam filters and save you from unwanted junk mail, here are some tips you can use to keep your email clean, relevant and spam-free.

Take the time to ‘report spam’


Spam options vary depending on the email service you are using, but most email clients will learn from your spam preferences and will help you get rid of unwanted mail in the future. But if you think that your email’s case is hopeless and you will never get rid of all the spam you get, you might consider creating a new email address and using the tips below it keep it clean.

Do not post your email online


Simple rule: the more you leave your email online, the more unwanted mail you are going to receive. This does not only refer to sites you don’t trust – an email address written in, say, a comment on a perfectly trustworthy site can be picked up by robots which scour the web for personal data and result in the worst kind of spam. If you really need to leave your contact email in a post, try writing it out in a non-email format, such as mylovelyemail(at)gmail(dot)com.

Do not use your email for every possible registration


Using your email to register on forums and other webpages does not necessarily mean loads of spam, but usually you will receive lots of newsletters, reminders and notification emails, unless you take the time to revisit the account settings and actually choose which notifications you (don’t) want.

Make yourself a ‘spam’ email


If you are a heavy internet user like myself (^_^) you will find it very useful to have an email address dedicated to notifications, updates, and, of course, spam that comes with all of it. Create an account with an email service you don’t use as your main email, so that you don’t have to log in every time (for example, if you normally use Gmail, make a spam account on Yahoo or another service). I use my spam email for registrations, updates and notifications and always have over 1000 unread messages there, but since I don’t have to check this email regularly it doesn’t take up any time. My main email, on the other hand, is used only for communication purposes and for very important online services.

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