How to Handle Unwanted (SPAM) Email


Everyone hates spam or unwanted email.  The regiment of deleting the ever increasing email you don’t want is time consuming.  Unwanted email increases over time with your activity you pursue over the internet.  The more times you provide your email address the more unwanted email you can expect to receive.  Why? Because your email address is valuable and your identity can be sold to others. Spammers have other creative ways to get your email address and then added to their lists.


We have classified three types of spam that a user will receive, Subscribed, Unsolicited and Persistent. They can fill your inbox quickly, and hinder your ability to read legitimate email.  Each of these types have three tips on reducing spam, but notice I did not say eliminate, because this is an ongoing process and requires your periodic attention.  Once you complete these tips for about a week, very little effort is required ongoing to keep unwanted email at bay.


 Subscribed: The bulk of spam email that you likely receive are these, because either you (unwittingly or not) or someone who knows your email address submitted it to a website or service and requested they send you regular newsletters/updates/status reports.  Most of the time we give these websites or services we sign up for this ability without acknowledgement.  These types of emails are typically from legitimate websites and are the easiest to prevent quickly.  TIP: To remove them, you typically have to scroll to the bottom of each email and click on a link that says “unsubscribe from mailing list”.  This will open your browser and go to a site where your automatically given a remove response or you’ll have to verify your email address you want removed and hit a submit.  Legitimate websites will remove you from their email list(s) within a certain period of time (sometimes more than 15 days), but normally it happens immediately to prevent further contact from them if done correctly.  Illegitimate Subscribed Spam may have the “unsubscribe” option, but does not allow you to unsubscribe.  In this case, it may fall into the next Spam category and should be treated as such.  Do not open any attachments from these types of email unless you know the source and trust the source.


 Unsolicited:These are targeted emails that are either sent to you specifically or blasted to a large mailing list in order to try to get through your email spam filter.  These spammers are mostly anonymous and trying to vie for your attention.  Mostly involves them wanting to sell you on something, but not necessarily trying to intend harm.  Email spam filters are always changing and improving in order to prevent these emails, but spammers work hard to fool your spam filter. The main way to prevent these emails is to report them as spam or flag them with a “spam” flag.  This works very well when it is the same subject, from email address and content.  TIP: The best email systems like Zimbra* allow you to simply right click on the email and choose “Mark as Spam”, and the system will begin to intelligently (intuitive learning) prevent similar emails in the future and may take up to two weeks for effectiveness.  However, some spammers are persistent and the next category and prevention tip may be required if listing them as Spam does not work.  NEVER open any attachments from these types of email.


Persistent: This category is for the spammers that are persistent in getting you to see their unbelievable opportunity message.  These are the strange requests, free money and off the wall notifications, but all from an unknown source with no contact.  They are forceful due to the complexity of delivering it with a different subject, email address or content each time.  They are offering a hoax and are masters at making sure they make it through your spam filter without you finding out who they are. TIP: This type of email requires a more comprehensive solution like Sophos** to stop these attempts before they reach your Email server. Otherwise, you'll need to manage it within your email account.  With Zimbra you can right click on the email From Address and select “Add to Filter” where you can create a New Filter called SPAM and save it.  Once completed any new persistent spam can be added to your list where the intention is to have it deleted before making it to your Inbox.  The key here is to isolate a constant condition like the same subject line “increase your cash flow in 3 easy steps”.  Just keep in mind, even after doing this, if they change the spelling or wording of the subject in any way, it will slip past the filter, which is why the first step should always be reporting the items as spam.   NEVER open any attachments from these types of email.  Another option when the domain name or from address is the same you can Blacklist, which is the simplest filtering method. Blacklist entries block all email from an address or domain, and Whitelist entries bypass all filtering for an address or domain.


*Zimbra Collaboration is a Business collaboration solution. Stay connected with business-class email, shared calendaring, file sharing, and tasks. Join the millions of people who trust Zimbra Collaboration for secure, professional email that keeps them in touch and on time, every day.

**Sophos is a manufacture, developer and vendor of computer security software and hardware, providing communication endpoint, encryption, network security, email security and mobile security as well as unified threat management products. Sophos is largely focused on providing security to organizations and businesses.

We hope this article will assist you in reducing your spam frustrations as you implement these tips.  If your email solution is not able to address these tips, talk with us about how Sophos and Zimbra can make spam a non-factor in your email communications and management.


The ASON Team