A solution for your email SPAM, finally!

Do you also receive so many spam messages via your website? Then you're not the only one.

Sending unsolicited emails (spamming) is a global problem and a huge threat to both users and businesses. Unfortunately, some countries take little or no action to prevent spammers from implementing such malicious plans within their borders. Moreover, spam will continue to exist and cause problems because various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) knowingly sell their services to professional spammers - for profit.

Are you wondering which countries have the highest number of live spam problems and which ISPs have the highest number of persistent spam problems? Take a look at the statistics from Spamhaus from 28 August 2020.

spam top 10 worldwide

Examples of Spam emails

SPAM is not only annoying but also dangerous

Phishing attacks are not a new threat. In fact, these scams have been in circulation since the mid-1990s. But over time, they have become more sophisticated, targeted larger numbers of people, and caused more damage to both individuals and organizations.

That means that this year - despite a growing number of vendors offering anti-phishing solutions - phishing is a bigger problem than ever. In fact, the problem is so big that it's hard to keep up with the latest facts and figures.

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6 signs that a message is 'phishing

There are several common and unfortunately often successful avenues of attack that cyber criminals can use to separate you from your personal contact and financial information. These phishing attack methods include email, phone calls, corrupt software or apps, social media, advertisements and even instant text messages.

In addition to the medium used to reach you (which is usually e-mail silent!), what are some of the signs and behaviors to search for? Not every threat is as obvious as you'd hope, and conversations that only focus on the inbox are completely inadequate in the distressing landscape in which we now find ourselves.

 

1. Phishing by your software or app itself

Even the most recent headlines indicate that counterfeit software and apps are still real and current dangers for digital nomads. On both Android and iOS, unscrupulous coders regularly find ways to bypass the approval process and deliver an app that seems to offer ordinary functionality, even if it takes personal information and sends it to unknown parties.

There are other ways of deception. Fake reviews on app stores are still amazingly common. A few hundred or even a few thousand glowing reviews give a superficial impression of legitimacy, but on closer inspection, similar terms used by multiple users or even suspiciously many similar usernames will come to light.

Sometimes all it takes is a nice user interface to keep unsuspecting users on the line in the app store. In some cases, dishonest developers can even improve the UI of the app they're trying to spoof, for that extra bit of reliability.

 

2. You have received a mysterious text or call

Much of the focus of social engineering remains on email, but it would be a mistake to combat smishing (text message phishing) and vishing (voice phishing). Would-be troublemakers can easily identify local area codes that you may recognize, or they may even impersonate technical support representatives to encourage you to provide the credentials for your devices or accounts.

This is one of the oldest tricks in the books - and it still works. Fortunately, it's usually quite easy to tell a real business shipment, apart from a fake one. Many companies, such as Microsoft and the IRS, are clear about never making unsolicited contact with customers over the phone. If you get a call from someone who's not asking for help and you don't need it, immediately hang up and block the number in your phone's settings.

 

"Did you know that Google 100 million phishing emails a day blocks?!”

3. You won something.

Lottery scams and that ubiquitous "You've Won Something Glorious!" pop-up ads are still a popular way to phish people's bank accounts and routing numbers. Unfortunately, the fact that they still exist and are so common means that they still work. We all know there's an adrenaline rush and excitement when we receive something when we least expect it.

A victim may receive a message on a fraudulent website that he or she has won a cash prize or a lottery in which he or she did not participate and that his or her winnings are available for direct deposit. If you receive a message like this, delete it (unread) and block the email address and/or phone number.

4. Your social media accounts are under attack

Social media has given rise to particularly nasty forms of "spear phishing" - that is, the public profile of mine victims for useful information, and then posing as someone you know, or at least could confuse you as legitimate. Don't forget to check your digital friends carefully.

 

Another way in which social media can be armed is through game mechanics, including surveys and questionnaires. You may be encouraged to spin a wheel, communicate with the screen or give feedback on something, after which you "win" the game and are asked for additional information.

 

As far as the surveys are concerned, remember that if you are not clearly a customer, you are probably the product. You may not be surprised to learn this, but fake surveys are so common on Facebook that users often scam the official message boards of the social site with questions about individual questionnaires - even the rare legitimate ones - where users get a reward for giving their opinion.

 

And then there are the social engineering efforts such as those of Cambridge Analytica during the Brexit campaign, but also of domestic and foreign actors during the 2016 presidential elections.

 

5. Your URL does not look good

No matter how you come into contact with a phishing scheme, chances are that part of the action they want you to take will visit a specific URL. Knowing how to tell when a URL is not real, or not connected to the person or company claiming to contact you, is a crucial skill.

The logical first step is to perform a Google or Bing search for the company and view the top results. The URL you've been given should match what's at the top of the search results page. Some browsers even help you with this.

Apple's Safari shortens the address in the URL bar to just the main domain and subdomain. The idea is to cut out the numbers, letters, and other fillings to let you know immediately when you're somewhere you didn't expect to be. Phishers have made an art of using long and complicated URLs to hide their intentions.

Another thing you can do is keep an address book with the official URLs, contact numbers and email addresses of the companies you do business with. You can also write some rules or filters so that your inbox automatically removes weeds and discards incoming messages based on trust symbols you've already identified, such as questionable sender addresses.

 

6. You have been warned or given an ultimatum

This is another kind of scam as old as the digital hills, and one that preoccupies the human element of fear, or the innate concern to miss an important deadline.

Scammers like to include vaguely threatening language in their fish in order to prevent a quick, irrational reaction from their targets. For example, a negative messaging campaign may include a script telling users that their information has been compromised, and they should hand over the payment before the scammers leak that (sometimes scandalous) information to the public. A classic case of extortion.

But you're more likely to compromise yourself by reacting too quickly to a false threat than actually being banned from your system, or whatever the claim is.

Do you feel prepared?
A digital life is no longer really optional - not when our entire professional, social and even political life unfolds online.

Even everyday surfing can feel like a minefield, but hopefully you'll feel better prepared for the essential threat at the heart of almost every malware attack today: phishing. Scammers know how to roll up their victims, even if they are outside the email pool. So monitor your apps, your social media, your mobile devices and your browsers!

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