SPAM – Why do you receive so many unwanted e-mails?

By Dave MacDougall: Business development consultant with Think4 IT Solutions Ltd.

SADDLEWORTH has been hit by a rash of computer attacks. Here, Grasscroft computer guru Dave MacDougall offers some expert advice and warnings:

JUNK E-MAIL you didn’t sign up for… e-mails from people you don’t know and no unsubscribe facility… ‘update your security’… notification from your bank…

We’ve all seen or heard about them on the news.

A large majority of people use e-mail to communication in business and their social lives which means it is almost a perfect target platform market for those less honest people to try and gain from users’ naivety.

It is believed the first spam-unsolicited e-mail was sent in 1978 – and even in 2013 there is no end in sight. As soon as the security market manages to close down one route of unwanted traffic, another one opens. And tactics some spammers use is truly beyond belief.

If you do receive an e-mail from something you didn’t sign up for and it has an ‘unsubscribe facility’ this could be a way in which they are testing to see if the e-mail address is live. If yes, they’ll sell on the address. The more exact data they can build from a single profile, the more value they’ll make from the sale of that profile.

A notorious way to gain access to your bank account is often from a simple e-mail posing as your bank or building society asking you to login via a link within the body of the e-mail and to check or change your security details.

The link will have a form of coding that will remember your key entries and send them back to the spammers who will then try and gain access into your account to remove all the money or check the details before selling your profile on.

You should remember that banks NEVER send e-mails asking you to login. The only legitimate e-mails from banks are selling their products, services or making you aware of any changes to a policy or terms and conditions.

If you do have a suspicion, don’t click on a link but open your browser separately and login or call your bank and ask if they sent the e-mail.  You might think this is a pain, but it’s far better than having your bank account emptied.

Another way to be vigilant to an unsolicited e-mail is to hover over any suggested links and check they’re the same. In the image attached you’ll see the well-used trick. In the body of the e-mail the link URL would read: when in fact if you followed the link it would take you to:

Hotmail (Live & Outlook), Gmail (GoogleMail) and Yahoo are the three biggest e-mail platforms and from time-to-time spammers will target one to try and crack them as they did with Yahoo only a few weeks ago.

To help you feel safer when using your computer (or any device that connects to the internet), make sure you have a good security package from a recognised manufacturer and you keep it update with patches. Virus Bulletin ( is a great reference site to know which package is best suited where.

Try not to allow your internet browser to store you login details to any sites. Most people don’t like having to remember too many different combinations of user credentials (user & password) so they use the same for multiple sites. Always keep your bank details unique and NEVER pass them on to anybody.


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