Is there a safe way to unsubscribe from a spam email?
No, there is not. While the temptation to remove your email address from those mailing lists is overwhelming, doing so will open you up to a cyberattack.
What is a spam email?
Contrary to the common use of “spam” as a verb (“That store spams me with so many marketing emails.”), marketing emails from your favorite stores, restaurants, or charities are not considered “spam.” At some point, you gave permission to receive them by subscribing or making a purchase and accepted the terms to receive notifications. Those emails are commonly filtered into promotions folders in platforms like Gmail, or they land in your inbox in Outlook.
Spam emails are mass emails sent to a large database of addresses where the recipients did not give consent for their addresses to be used. Your email address was most likely obtained by scammers through a process called content scraping (a process in which a scraping bot gathers user data from social media and other sites to access email addresses and other personal data).
The tell-tale signs of a spam email…
- Spam senders will use common, popular businesses to impersonate and use URLs with a typo in them. There may also be various typos in the email body and subject line as well.
- It’s important to pay attention to what comes after the @ in the sender’s address. Companies like Venmo or Walmart are not emailing you from a “@gmail.com” or other public domains. Spam senders use these tactics to trick recipients. The spam domains can also include typos as well.
Don’t unsubscribe, just delete!
When cybercriminals send spam emails, they are sending mass communications hoping the recipient address is valid, hoping someone takes the bait. By attempting to unsubscribe or click active links within the email, you are confirming to the sender that your email address is valid and active. Do not reply to these emails to remove your name from a contact list, that provides another opportunity for hackers to gain access to your data.
Clicking through links in spam emails or opening attachments increases your chance of downloading malware, ransomware, or other viruses onto your computer, phone, or tablet.
How to avoid getting them?
There’s no foolproof solution to eliminate spam emails, but user education and awareness also play a crucial role in preventing email-related security threats. Modern spam filters do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping potentially threatening emails from your inbox.
Platforms like Avanan combine multiple layers of protection to identify and block spam, reducing the risk of spam emails reaching your inbox. Some of those layers include…
Content Filtering: This is the examination of known spam characteristics to filter emails into the Junk, Inbox, Promotions, Social, etc. folders, including subject lines, sender reputation, and the email’s content, checking for patterns associated with spam emails and flag accordingly.
URL and Attachment Analysis: If a link or attachment included in the email is deemed malicious or harmful, Avanan will block the email.
Sender Reputation Analysis: Platforms like Avanan will analyze the sender’s reputation, including their IP address or domain. If the sender has a poor reputation for spam or malicious content, their emails will be flagged or blocked.