Byte Me Article 473 – Email Filtering

– Email Filtering

Following on from last weeks’ article about emails and how useful they are, this week we look at the problems associated with having an email address and how to overcome these.  The single biggest problem with using an email address is getting unwanted messages delivered to your inbox.  These unwanted messages come under the two main categories of Spam or Malicious emails and logically the longer that you have an email address for the more unwanted emails you are likely to be receiving.

Spam emails are simply junk emails.  They are usually advertising, or marketing emails trying to get your attention and aiming for your wallet.  Spam emails will offer you good or services and can be cleverly arranged to target items that you have searched for.  This is where BIG internet companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft make millions of dollars.  These big Internet players have the ability to ‘track’ your progress around the Internet and can know what products / services interest you.

While not classed as being malicious, spam emails will normally get you to spend more that you would have without the prompts and they will cause a certain amount of disruption to your day.  If you are sitting at a work computer, spam emails can distract and be the source of many lost minutes.  We have seen plenty of business customers getting literally 20 to as many as 200 or even 500 spam emails every single day.

In the above cases the user gets into the habit of simply hitting the ‘Delete’ button on the majority of their emails.  When ‘trained’ like this deleting around spam emails every day will still waste around 10 minutes of your time.  It also makes you susceptible to deleting emails that are important if you don’t recognise them in time.  In this situation your email system has made you a slave to its existence and it is providing dubious worth.  If you calculate 10 minutes a day of wasted time over a working year – you have just wasted around 40 hours of time clicking on a delete button!!!

The bad brother to Spam emails is a Malicious email.  Under this category we have 4 email sub-categories which we will refer to as Phishing emails, Social Engineering emails, Scam emails and Virus emails.  So, what are these? Starting with Phishing emails we encounter all of the fraudulent emails pretending to be from a utility provider, a bank, a local government authority or a computer company.  Phishing emails will as you to reply with login details or personal information.  

They will suggest that some service or invoice is due or that they are updating your details and need you to complete something – before you are dropped from a service or database.  An example would be to verify your banking login details – “because the bank is doing a major security / computer upgrade”.  If you are feeling a bit tired or simply having a bad judgement moment you can be suckered into complying with these requests which are structured to look as realistic as possible with authentic logos and authentic looking reply email addresses.

Social Engineering emails will provide you with a link to click on which is again designed to look authentic.  These are very often under the “Click here for more information”.  There will usually be a time limit put on your compliance and clicking on a provided link may not appear to have any effect, however in the background you may well now have a virus or other computer exploit.  Stay tuned for the remainder of this topic next week. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is still contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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