How Do We Protect Ourselves from Spam Messages

[How to ...]

One of the most annoying things happening with our emails is the spam. In general, “spam” refers to unsolicited messages received either in our email inbox, on the instant messaging (IM) services we use, via SMS or other private means embedded in the websites we frequently visit.

A spam email can be sent by a legit person who wants to reach a large audience, or, and this is the most common situation, by automated systems designed to overload our inboxes with undesired advertising, fake offers, illegal content, etc.

We should also keep in mind that not all spam comes from software created for spamming. We ourselves can be a source of spam, when we do not follow the netiquette and invade the email addresses of our friends and contacts with unsolicited, undesired messages.

We should be aware of the fact that, at the most basic level, spamming involves a lack of consent to receive messages.

There are 3 ways to protect ourselves from spam:

The first and easiest way is by practicing a strict digital discipline that includes:

(1) Never publish your personal email address in a visible way. Even if you change @ with an image, the existing crawlers (special software designed to crawl the Internet and gather email addresses) will be able to translate your combination into a valid email address.

(2) Never submit your email to unknown, unsecure websites.

(3) Clear your history after submitting personal or business information to a legit website (e.g. to your bank, fiscal authority, etc.).

(4) Never reply to spam messages. Not even as a joke.

(5) If you submit your contact information to a company or institution, check the box that says you do not want commercial communication.

(6) Regularly check if you have been subscribed automatically to newsletters and other automatic emailing lists. You can do that by looking in your email account, in groups or other sections, and unsubscribe.

(7) Never send banking information via unsecure websites. Before making any online payment, make sure that the page you are viewing is legit (belongs to your bank or wiring company) and secure. The basic way to do that is by clicking on the icon before the web address displayed in the address bar.

These are minimal things you should keep in mind and practice everyday.

The second way involves using some technical means to avoid spam. For example, spam filtering tools available in your email account, offered by the anti-virus solution or specific apps and adds-on. It will also help using a web-based app designed for blocking pop-ups, which might include viruses and trojan horses that steal your data you submitted online.

The third way is all about the available legal means. For instance, you may complain to the local Data Protection authority or any other relevant institution (Police, your bank, etc.), if there was significant damage. This applies not only when you have been the victim of a digital scam, but also when your digital rights have been harmed (especially based on GDPR provisions).



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