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Posts Tagged ‘email spam’

How Email Filtering Prevents Cyberattacks

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Almost every business uses email as a primary communication channel, and as a result, it is a major attack vector for cybercriminals. Every employee’s email account represents a possible risk to your business operations. One way to protect employee accounts is with email filtering tools.

email filtering

The Risks of Email Communications

Email is a necessary business communication tool. However, it also introduces significant risks. A 2019 HIMSS survey found that 70% of breaches originated with a phishing email. It’s unrealistic to stop people from using email, so the next best step is protecting accounts and reducing risk.

Social Engineering Risks

The number one threat to any cybersecurity program is human error. Phishing campaigns are so successful because they prey on human vulnerabilities. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the most cautious people can be caught up in a busy day and accidentally click on a malicious link without adequately vetting the sender.

By stopping these malicious emails from entering the employee’s inbox, there is no chance they will mistakenly click on them. Although phishing training is still essential in case emails get through the system, a good email filtering service will stop most suspicious messages.

What is Email Filtering?

Email filtering tools prevent malicious messages like spam from reaching inboxes. Filtering tools scan the incoming emails for signs of cybercrime- these could include bad links, content used by known spammers, or other indicators. Email filtering stops suspicious emails from being delivered to the intended recipient.

How Email Filtering Works to Stop Spam

There are many ways to filter emails, some of which are more restrictive than others. Every email filtering service is different, so we are speaking in generalities for informative purposes. However, the process works the same way. All incoming emails are scanned to see if they contain any information that violates the filter settings. Traditionally, the filter scans both the email header and the message contents.

The email header contains information about the sender, including their IP address, email domain, sending address, security signatures, and other technical information about how and when the email was sent. Email filters will flag messages sent from suspicious senders and known spammers. Email filters can be so restrictive as to entirely stop incoming emails from external organizations or domains.

Filtering systems also scan email message contents. Phishing schemes rely on unsuspecting users clicking on links to install malware on a user’s computer. Email filtering systems can scan and remove links to known suspicious websites. Organizations can go further and configure their filtering systems to remove all links in emails. This may be too restrictive for some, but it is an option for some filtering tools. In addition,  scanners can flag emails for spammy content. Some commonly flagged messages include overly promotional marketing emails, messages with adult themes, and those that mention illegal activities.

Once the suspicious emails are flagged, then what happens? The settings are often configurable. Some email filtering systems add a banner to the top of scanned messages that alerts the user to any risky-seeming content. However, once users are accustomed to seeing it, they may ignore or not notice the warnings.

The most common solution is to divert flagged emails to quarantine. There, users can review the messages to determine if they are spam or not. Sometimes unsuspecting messages get caught up in filters, and this gives the intended recipient a chance to retrieve wanted messages. For extremely conservative organizations, the system can automatically delete flagged messages and never deliver them to the inbox out of an abundance of caution.

Conclusion

Everyone should be concerned about the rise of cyberattacks and the potential risks to their businesses. Use an email provider that offers sophisticated email filtering services. LuxSci’s Premium Email Filtering is an available add-on to our Secure Email Hosting and Secure Connector solutions.

Email List Hygiene: 5 Best Practices for Cleaning Up Email Lists

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

When sending emails from a new server and IP address, we always stress the importance of warming up the server to prevent emails from being flagged as spam. One critical step of the warm up is sending small batches of messages to email contacts that are likely to open and click on the content. Sending to clean email lists helps build a positive IP reputation and will improve email deliverability over time. This article explains the basics of email list hygiene and how to clean up email lists.

email list hygiene

What is Email List Hygiene?

Email list hygiene involves removing ineligible contacts from lists and adding new addresses with proper permissions and consent. Good email list hygiene contributes to good email deliverability and engagement. It also prevents emails from being marked as spam because all recipients have agreed to receive email communications. Here are our tips for cleaning up email lists:

How to Clean up Old Email Lists

1.     Remove Role Accounts

We don’t recommend sending emails to addresses that are groups or aliases that support a specific business function. These include addresses like:

Spammers often scrape these addresses off websites and send them unsolicited emails. To successfully warm up a new IP, it is essential to differentiate sending patterns from spammers as much as possible.

2.     Remove Inactive or Incorrect Email Addresses

Most mailing lists contain old email addresses that are no longer active. Removing these addresses before warming up a new mail server is essential. Spammers often purchase lists that contain a high proportion of inactive emails. Sending to many inactive addresses may cause the server to be flagged as spam. Also, check for and correct common misspellings and typos, for example, “gamil.com” vs. “gmail.com.”

If working with a large email list that hasn’t been contacted in a while, it may be worthwhile to use a paid tool to run these verification checks and remove bad email addresses.

3.     Review Email Permissions

Before sending a campaign, review how the email list was collected. Sending unsolicited emails is an excellent way to be marked as spam. If marketing communications are planned, ensure the contacts have explicitly agreed to receive marketing messages. The CAN-SPAM Act regulates how marketers can use email to communicate with prospects. It’s essential to confirm that the list was not collected in a way that violates those terms. In addition, never send to a list purchased from a third party, as that violates the CAN-SPAM Act and can lead to massive financial penalties.

Sometimes, the origins of an email list may be unknown. In this case, running an opt-in or re-engagement campaign is a good idea. This gives users the opportunity to resubscribe to the mailing list and reengage with the brand. Only sending emails to people who have opted in increases the likelihood they will engage with future emails. Remove contacts from the list who do not respond or opt-out from future communications.

Ongoing Email List Hygiene

Setting up a schedule to maintain email list hygiene is crucial to preserving IP reputation. It takes ongoing work to support list hygiene. Including email list cleaning tasks in campaign set-up and performance reviews is essential to ensure campaigns are delivered to the recipients.

4.     Remove Bounces, Spam, and Unsubscribes

After every campaign, remove addresses that have unsubscribed or bounced. Most email marketing tools will automatically remove unsubscribes but reviewing the feedback is essential. If many people unsubscribe even after list clean-up, review the email contents to ensure they are relevant and not spammy.

Likewise, even verified subscribers may report emails as spam instead of clicking on an unsubscribe link. We recommend removing contacts who have marked emails as spam because it is a clear indicator that they no longer want to receive these types of emails.

Continuing to email users who have unsubscribed is a CAN-SPAM violation with penalties in the thousands of dollars. Bounces are not usually removed automatically by email programs. Marketers should review the list of bounced emails after every campaign is sent and remove bounced addresses to keep the list clean. Lists acquired from spammers often contain many email addresses that will bounce, so avoiding sending to bounced addresses is recommended.

5.     Set Up Double Opt-In for New Subscribers

Even if the original list was not collected according to best practices, setting up validation procedures for new subscribers can help ensure that only people who want to receive emails will get them.

The best way to validate email subscribers is by setting up a double opt-in process. By “double opt-in,” we mean that when someone signs up for an email list, they are sent another email requiring them to confirm the subscription by clicking on a link before being added to a list. This helps ensure that only people who want to receive brand communications will be added to the lists.

Conclusion

Cleaning up email lists can initially be time-consuming. Setting up the proper procedures and reviewing existing lists regularly can help maintain proper list hygiene and improve email deliverability.