Dealing with Spam: Don’t Pay for A Cybercriminal’s Lunch.
You probably receive hundreds of unsolicited emails a week, commonly referred to as “junk” mail or “spam”. In 2021, 45% of all email messages sent are considered spam.
There are many categories under the heading spam:
Marketing: These email messages originate from a company that has your email address, which you provided, likely to create an account, that is trying to sell you something from a legally registered business. Such emails are annoying, but generally not fraudulent.
Legitimate, Automated Messages: Such messages are automated for notifications, services, or sometimes bills. An automated email from a utility provider is not inherently spam. Everyone gets legitimate emails from doctor’s offices confirming appointments, political campaigns looking for votes, debt collectors pursuing money, charities contacting prior donors, or schools making announcements.
Predatory Messages: These illegal messages include fraudulent information that tries to trick you into supplying credentials. They may also include links and/or attachments that have malware intended to steal information.
While it’s easy enough to reduce the marketing e-mails by going to the very bottom of the message and looking for the “unsubscribe” link in the small print, it’s much more difficult to manage the automated messages and predatory messages. The added risk for small businesses is ensuring legitimate communications are not blocked. Cybercrime is on the rise and the methods employed get increasingly sophisticated each day.
There is a myriad of solutions available to protect your computers, network, mobile devices and employees from cybercrime but choosing the “right” solution is not always straightforward; an antivirus program may not protect you from phishing email. The first step in figuring out what you need is understanding the distinct types of threats every small business faces twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Malware is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server or network. There are many types of malware, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, rogue software, wiper and scareware.
A Computer Virus is a specific form of malware. It’s a computer program that, when executed, replicates itself by changing other programs and inserting its own code. The instructions in this code can range from removing data, to exporting data to overheating the hard drives.
Spam, also known as “junk mail”, is sent without explicit consent from the recipient and has the sole purpose of making a profit, legitimately or illegitimately. Cybercriminals use spam to trick unsuspecting users and make a profit from it.
SO MANY TOOLS, SO LITTLE TIME
There is a healthy market of third-party tools available to help protect computers and employees from these threats, including free tools like Microsoft Defender, a security program Microsoft incorporated into their Windows operating system in late 2006. It’s easy to understand why this wide variety of tools is confusing; the abundance of solutions, some free, others quite expensive, creates a difficult choice for small businesses, especially when knowing the wrong choice could prove an expensive mistake.
In 2021 most businesses understand the need for antivirus protection and will use the recommended tool that comes pre-installed on the computer or the built-in tool of the operating system, but not every tool supplies comprehensive protection from all forms of malware and predatory messages. We are well past the days when the impact of spam on a business was minimal, merely an annoyance. The spam of today is an aggressive threat, using sophisticated attacks and rapidly evolving techniques to target not only computers, but people as well. Predatory spam is no longer random, electronic junk mail. It is now the number one tool used by cybercriminals to make money.
THE "RIGHT" SOLUTION How Does Spam Impact Your Business? Cybercriminals send cleverly disguised emails to your business, hoping a busy, unsuspecting employee is fooled into clicking a link or opening an attachment that will infect the computer with malware to steal personal data. This technique is known as phishing. The malware then spreads across the entire computer network and beyond. Occasionally, but in increasing fashion, spam is so convincing that only an expert can visually recognize it.
How Can A Spam Filter Save Your Business?
Block threats: A spam filter blocks the spam from reaching the screens of employees. The threat is automatically picked up and either held securely or immediately deleted. This is the best way to reduce the threat imposed by spam malware. The effect of just one click on a malicious link is enough for instantaneous infection that may lie hidden for months. Preventing the email from reaching an employee’s inbox is the best defense.
Filter legitimate emails: It’s important not to block legitimate mail and senders who are part of the day-to-day business transactions. A good spam filter must have ability to “whitelist” safe senders and remain sophisticated enough to block only spam while allowing -- and learning -- legitimate e-mail senders to arrive safely in the mailboxes.
Meet data regulations: Many businesses are subject to strict privacy and data storage regulations, some more so than others. To continue operations, they must meet certain conditions including the use of spam filtering to reduce the risk of data breaches.
Protect your business reputation: No matter the size of the business, no one is comfortable admitting a breach to clients, which translates as “We acknowledge that we failed to protect your data.” In many states, such as New York and Florida, it’s a requirement to notify clients when their data is breached. Not only will a business face economic loss though possible fines, but the business reputation is at stake.
What Should A Small Business Do?
Every device connected to the Internet requires protection. It doesn’t matter if that connection is through a cable or Wi-Fi. Choose the right tools for the specific threats, this means a solution -- or solutions -- that protects against both malware and predatory spam.
Among the many Anti-malware solutions available, there are some that stand out.
Spam filtering has come a long way in recent years, using complex algorithms to find spam before it risks the business. Legitimate emails pass through safely without the classic ‘check the spam folder’ exercise. Among the many Spam Filtering solutions available, there are some that stand out.
Before deciding on a solution for your business, consult with an IT Professional with experience across the spectrum of tools. There are many considerations, including budget, implementation and subscriptions.
Our team of experts are always available to consult with you and ensure the right choice for your unique business. Contact us.