There are few things that are as universally hated as spam. With the click of a button, spammers can flood millions of inboxes daily, requiring very little effort on their part. This is the reason spam is so prevalent despite advancements in software technology. You may have become so accustomed to spam that it seems to be just an unavoidable price to pay to use email servers. On the surface, spam is just an annoying fact of life, but if you gaze a bit closer, you’ll see that spam can actually be quite harmful.
It’s Getting Smarter
As email providers and businesses develop new ways to combat spam, spammers are finding new ways to get around these advancements. Spam mail is learning from automation rules and scripts just as fast as businesses are. It’s becoming harder and harder to identify. Getting rid of subject lines that are written in all capitals or contain multiple exclamation points allows spammers to avoid tripping spam filters. They’re also getting smarter by avoiding words that will trip spam filters such as “money”, “million,” “extra,” “earn,” “discount,” and “cash.”
Because recipients will likely click on spam based on the information they see in the “from” field, spammers are using first and last names instead of catchy words or return email addresses. Social media has become a tool spammers are using to gather information to use in messages that appeal to recipients.
Spam Costs Businesses Big
While these unsolicited emails cost nearly nothing for the sender, the true cost is paid by the recipients. The cost of spam is more than an annoyance. Businesses around the globe feel the impact of spam in measurable ways. It’s estimated that spam costs businesses more than $20 billion annually due to lost productivity, ransomware, and phishing scams.
IT experts will tell you that spam accounts for over 50 percent of all emails sent, and at least $712 is lost per year for every one of your employees due to the time wasted from dealing with spam. The time spent identifying and deleting spam email is an unquestionable waste of employee time. Even if an employee keeps his or her inbox current, spending a minute or two daily to delete spam will eventually add up in time and cost.
Now, factor in the occasionally misidentified spam email that contains malware or a phishing attempt that can leave your business vulnerable to criminal elements. Most spam is marketing attempts and not a direct attack on your computer or information. The $712 per year per employee can be multiplied greatly if an employee unwittingly gives out sensitive information or allows malware onto his or her computer.
Phishing Spam is Destructive
It’s not the volume of spam that’s problematic, unless your inbox is absolutely flooded by them; rather, it’s the destructive nature of some spam. Phishing emails are the most common type of spam scams. Just as the name suggests, with phishing spam, scammers are attempting to fish for your personal information.
Internet security specialists caution that spammers have gotten good at misleading emails that look like they come from legitimate sources, even copying logos, fonts, and images used by the legitimate business or entity. These emails can appear to be invoices, mail delivery failure warnings, notification of password changes, or requests that you check your accounts for malicious activities. Once you try to log into your accounts from the fake links provided in the spam email, the spammers now have your password and other private credentials you’ve shared.
Malware Leaves Businesses Vulnerable
Malware installed after opening a seemingly innocent spam email can cost you in more ways than just money. Not all malware is created equal, and depending on what you’ve unintentionally installed, you may see no obvious effects of the intruder. While malware can incapacitate your computer or seriously muck things up, sometimes malware comes in the form of spyware that hides on your system and gathers data for the spammer. The data gathered can range from browser history to banking information to your various account credentials.
Malware can also come in the form of ransomware, a malicious program that literally holds your computer hostage until you provide a fee. The spam may be the ransom note warning the recipient that if he or she doesn’t click on the link provided and pay a fee, then his or her account may be terminated. Of course, once the recipient clicks on the link, he or she has installed the software that will disable his or her computer or accounts.
Spam Damages Communication
Spam can kill more than just productivity in the workplace. The purpose of email is to communicate with others, but spam can damper that communication by making it hard to identify legitimate emails, resulting in an increase in the likelihood that you’ll delete legitimate emails by accident or become delayed in your response as you trudge through clogged inboxes. Because phishing attempts try to mimic legitimate sources, you may end up blocking or permanently deleting important emails.
There’s a sort of anxiety that can come from spam. This can result in email avoidance, creating a larger problem when you finally make it to your inbox. Many of us know a few people with a few hundred unopened emails due to spam.
Potential Harm to Clients and Associates
Spam doesn’t just affect you. Customer service software developers explain that exposing your computer to malicious spam can put your clients and those around you at risk. Access to your contact list, any correspondences, or other private information you have stored in your accounts or computer can give spammers the tools to come after your customers, associates, friends, and family. So, while you may walk away unscathed, those closest to you may not be so lucky. With access to your contact list, spammers will have a further reach for their unwanted content.
As you can see, spam is more than a little annoyance. It’s a threat and should be viewed as such, especially by businesses wishing to protect profits and maintain security. Being aware of the harm and destruction that spam can expose you to is half the battle in dealing with these unsolicited emails.
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