Email

Hate Spam Email? You are Not Alone.

After recently reviewing our website data, we found it interesting that most if not all of the news media are focused on hacking by Russia only, when in fact it is a world-wide event.

If you have a website and/or email, you have definitely seen an uptick of spam email. It would seem that hackers and spammers like to welcome the holidays by increasing their junk/spam/irritating email messages. We get about 30 per each of our 6 email addresses per day. Those numbers are not so bad when you consider the total email sent out each  day.

According to Talos, in the month of October, 2017, there was a daily average of legitimate email totaling 78.90 Billion, up 21.4% from September, 2017.

In the month of October, 2017, there was also a daily spam volume of 454.61 Billion, up 24% from September.

That is a lot of daily email given that according to Internet Live Stats, there are about 1.2 Billion websites. What makes the amount of email seem even larger is that about 75% of those website are “parked”, meaning inactive.

Since we have had numerous hacking attempts, we started daily monitoring our website data. From our review through our cPanel account, under “Metrics”, we found that in only 3 days, hackers have been hitting our website attempting to get through using our Word Press blog files.  One type of hacking attempt can be identified by finding a specific web app attack identified with an entry ending in “wp-login.php”).

Now back to Russia. Everyone is so concerned that Russia is messing things up that they are ignoring (or not talking about other countries where hacking attempts are coming from. The countries and/or places that we identified hacking attacks are coming from included India, Indonesia,  Dominican Republic, Moscow, Beijing, Algeria, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Pakistan, New York, Sweden, Morocco, Italy, Chicago, United Emirates, Thailand, Serbia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Dallas. A number of these had multiple attacks listed over several days.

If you want to check and see who is attempting to get into the back door of your website, log into to your cPanel account, go to the Metric section, and open the “errors”. If you see any entries ending in “wp-login.php”, then you have had an attempted attack on your website.

Talk to your webmaster about screening the IP addresses and blocking them. Just be sure not to block any search engine bots that want to index your website.

Building Email Lists

Building an email list is still a good way to create a base for contacts, no matter what business you are in. You can use the list for simple announcements, providing offers for discounts, or creating leads for your business.

There are some pitfalls to creating the list, especially if it is from emails that you receive through your website, however.

First, there are some things you need to know about email. For simplicity, here is a rough idea of how you get email.

A person sends an email through your website. That email goes through an email server at your website host. That email server looks up the email address you are sending to and then forwards it to the email server closest to that email address. Sometimes it will go directly to the recipient, but most of the time, receiving email servers validate the email address first for security reasons. (For more specific information, you can get it at WikiBooks, Internet Technologies/Routing Email.)

Spammers like to phish, (“fish”), for valid email addresses so that can use them for their own purposes. For instance, once a spammer knows an email address of this-email@somewhiere.com is valid, they will open a domain name, establish any email account they want and then as an alias, send out hundreds of thousands of email using this-email@somewhere.com.

What effect does that have on you? Anytime an email address is marked as spam by incoming email servers, in short order that email address is shown on blacklists which all email servers refer to. Show up on a blacklist and your email starts bouncing back to you. To get yourself removed from blacklists is another subject entirely but rest assured, it requires a lot of work to get your email accepted again.

So what does all of this mean? You have to be very careful when sending email out using email addresses you may have gotten through your website. Spammers will complete your website form simply to verify the email address on your website is valid so they can start using it. Sometimes the email will bounce back and they won’t use it, sometimes it will. So if you answer an email address, you just validated it and they know it is a good one.

It can complicate things more if you do mass email. If you send out a mass email to 40 email addresses, and one of those email addresses you included happens to be a spam email address, you just contributed 40 occurrences of spam using your email address. So even if your email address is valid, and your intent was not to send out spam, you just did and risk blacklisting your own email address.

So the bottom line is this: Make sure the email address you include in your email campaign list is valid. If your website form contains a phone number, look it up and see if it matches the email address or name of the person that supposedly sent it. Do a simple Google search for that email address and see if it shows up. Just verify the information you are using and you should be safer in using it.

Spam Email and Prevention Tips

Email is the number one B2B communication and it comes with a price. Regardless of the email system you use, spam email will follow you. It is very frustrating and time consuming to get rid of it. No one is exempt from spam email. As soon as your email address shows up on the Internet, you can count on getting spam email.

Many international organizations are using various means of email spam reduction. Sadly, while legislation is being passed all over the world, such as the Canadian Anti-Spam Law that went into effect on July 1, 2014, it won’t necessarily reduce your spam email since the spammers ignore such legislation anyway. The primary purpose of the true spammers are to get as many valid email addresses as they can so they can sell their lists to whomever wants to buy them. In most cases, they are using much more sophisticated equipment than you have for your business to create these lists.

The daily amount of span email that is sent around the world greatly varies depending on the source. By very rough estimates, there are 130 billion spam emails sent on a daily basis, representing 70% of the total email sent. That also represents a $13 billion annual loss to businesses based on purchased software used to reduce spam and the man-hours it takes to weed through the spam to identify valid business email. It is said that the U.S. is the top spam email sender with an approximate 20% world-wide share while India is the top spammer for Asia.

In this day and age, small business owners have to react quickly to their customers to avoid losing them to their competition. That means there is little time to slowly review each email to see if it is valid or not. Business owenrs simply do not have time to do that and run their business as well.

There are somethings that you can do to possibly help reduce the amount of spam both coming into your mailbox and leaving it.

Limit Your Replies to Emails

If you want to reply to an email that has attachments and/or links in the email you received, try to avoid replying more than 2 times to the same email. Say for instance there are 3 links embedded in the email you received. If you reply 3 times, you have just sent out an email with 9 identical links included. Many spam filters will identify email with more than 3 links, (and sometimes less), as spam. Result, you might just get automatically marked as a “spammer” and put on one of the many email blacklists. So, take the time to create a new email to the person you are going to continue responding to. It will take much less time than trying to get off a spam blacklist and having incoming/outgoing emails bounce.

Don’t Answer Email Located in Your Junk Box

If you get an email that lands in your junk/spam mailbox, move the email to your Inbox first before you reply. Outlook remembers what email is junk and/or spam as does your antivirus program. If you send out a junk email by replying to it, you could be blacklisted automatically.

Do Not Answer Junk or Spam Email

To repeat, spammers send out millions of emails daily and their sole purpose is to identify valid email addresses. If you respond, you have just validated your email and will get many more spam emails.

Do Not “Unsubscribe” From a Spam Email

Same reason as not answering spam emails. As much as it would be nice to answer with a few choice words as to why you are “unsubscribing”, keep the blood pressure and spam emails down. Do not send an email separately requesting you be unsubscribed from their list as that will also validate your valid email.

Just Say NO to Changing Emails

Lately, through Outlook, emails are arriving that ask you, “The email content has changed. Do you want to save it?” Absolutely click No and delete that email immediately. You have a good chance that email has a bug attached.

It is really a shame that you have to go through these steps and it would be great if there were no spam. There are marketers out there that try very hard to stay within the guidelines and the true spammers only make it harder for them. In some cases, by following these tips, you will likely lose a valid email or two. However, if it is a valid email, the sender will either email you again or call you.