But even if a company has the best technology partners, the right anti-spam package and a fully integrated security solution, it still has to manage one area of weakness - its users. All too often, end users unwittingly bring about security breaches by opening virus-carrying emails, downloading infected files and failing to update anti-virus software – the list goes on and on. But when it comes to the battle to protect their inboxes from spam, users can also be a valuable asset. It is therefore essential that they are given training and that organisations have policies in place to help users manage spam correctly and, ultimately, reduce the amount of spam they receive.
Spam is a problem, but it is actually one that can be managed effectively. Organisations must make sure that their email management tools are part of a wider security solution – and many companies decide to outsource this management to another expert organisation. After all, it only takes one mail to get through, or one mistake from a user, for the damage to be done.
Ten tips for users to help reduce spam
1. Be very careful when giving out your email address: think before you subscribe to newsletters or give out your details on registration forms.
2. When you do have to give out your email address, always look for the option asking if you want to sign up for information from third parties - and say no.
3. Think about who you are giving your details to. You wouldn’t give out your home address or phone number to strangers so you must be equally careful with your email address.
4. Never reply to unsolicited mail, even if it is to unsubscribe. This validates your address and, as such, makes it much more valuable to companies that sell email lists. This also applies to the remove link that many spammers include. Ideally you should not even open mail that is unsolicited.
5. Help your anti-spam tool learn what is and isn’t junk. Identify false positives and inform it when it misses a piece of spam. This helps build up accurate black and white lists, and identifies the latest techniques spammers are using.
6. Never give out your corporate email address for anything that isn’t work related. Consumer services can be some of the most pernicious spammers around.
7. If you’re having significant problems with spam, talk to your IT department. They may be able to help with an alternative email address or set up rules that only allow emails from designated domains.
By subscribing to our early morning news update, you will receive a daily digest of the latest security news published on Help Net Security.
With over 500 issues so far, reading our newsletter every Monday morning will keep you up-to-date with security risks out there.