3 Techniques Spammers are Using in 2017 to Try and Trick You
The spam issue is an ongoing problem that we may never completely solve, despite a great deal of time, money and research going into the battle against it.
There are an estimated 54 billion spam messages sent daily and spammers continue to come up with colourful new ways to take advantage of people.
As an email user and even more so as a website owner, it’s important to be aware of how spam works and to be able to identify it when it finds its way into your inbox. Having operated in the online space for some many years, the team at WebAlive have received as much spam as anyone.
We’ve put together a shortlist of some of the most common practices and techniques used by spammers. We’d recommend keeping a look out for these kinds of emails and promptly reporting/deleting them.
1. 419 scams
419 or Nigerian scam emails are very common and you’ve likely received one yourself. For some that recognise them for what they are, reading through them can be quite humourous, but they remain one of the biggest modern spam techniques today and need to be taken seriously.
These emails will usually include a long, often engaging story about a rich individual that is looking to give away their fortune, or needs to get a large sum of money out of their country. The classic story involves a Nigerian prince that has chosen the email recipient to accept a large payment, no questions asked. Or maybe it’s that the recipient has won a lottery they didn’t realise they were in. Of course, to deposit the money, the recipient’s bank details and personal information is required.
While these stories seem transparent, some email users are duped into passing over their information. In 2010, a Nigerian man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for repeatedly scamming victims in the US for millions of dollars, for example.
Phishing is another common method used by spammers that can be very effective against less experienced and experienced email users alike. There are various kinds of phishing but ultimately it involves the spammer disguising themselves as someone else to gain information from the recipient. This information can vary from usernames and passwords to bank information and credit card numbers.
Usually, an email of this kind will appear to come from a trusted source, with a request to provide information or with a link. An example may be an apparent email from email@example.com, with a link and a request to log in to your online banking account. The spammer will have set up a fake link that has the appearance of the NAB login page. Once the details are entered, they’ve got you.
But some spammers will go a step further and engage in what’s known as spear phishing. This involves collecting information about a specific person or business and targeting them, using the information they’ve acquired to convince the recipient that they are who they say they are.
3. SEO/Website Health Spam
Interestingly, the large majority of unsolicited spam emails are genuine attempts to sell products or services.
You’ll often see spam emails advertising Viagra or weight-loss tablets, and while not all of these are from legitimate attempts to sell, some of them are. Recently, we are also starting to see spam emails talking about the health of your website or that you need SEO.
If you run a website for your business, you’ve no doubt received your share of these. We frequently hear from our own clients in a panic, believing that their website has been compromised or is broken and they need to act immediately to save it.
However, unsolicited emails about the health of your website are usually just an attempt to scare you or convince you to sign up with an overseas-based SEO provider that isn’t likely to bring much value. Usually, this email is generic and not specific to your website at all. It’s also possible that the spammers are after personal information and this may be a phishing attempt.
It’s always prudent to take care online and be aware that there are people out there trying to take advantage of you. As you start to see how spammers operate, you’ll be better equipped to recognise new spamming methods that you may be subject to in the future. In addition, it’s of utmost importance that you use an antivirus software on any computer that you are using to browse the internet, to protect against malware.
If you have any other questions about staying safe online, spam, or methods to protect your website, get in touch with the team at WebAlive.