GFAQ-6 : What is a spam email?

Welcome to the 6th edition of Gary's frequently asked questions. We would like to thank Gary’s mother, Joanne, for allowing us to create a series of answers to some of the questions she has asked us for help with from our time as her company’s external IT support specialists. We'll take it from here, thanks, Joanne. 

“What is a spam email?” 

This one might seem simple but it can actually be pretty complicated. These criminal types can be crafty, so listen up Joanne. While it is true that most modern email platforms have an inbuilt spam filter of some sort, you will still receive standard trashy emails such as “Big wangle dangle discount!” and “Offshore bank account inheritance”.

Usually, these will end up in your spam folder. However, some spam email takes a more subtle approach. Disguised as a legitimate website and email, some spam pretends to be from your bank, from PayPal, or from other reputable sources. This is called phishing. 

The worst part about phishing is that once your account has been compromised, there is a good chance that the account will be used to spread the email more to everyone in your contact list. This is also how a lot of malware spreads, including ransomware. 

The aim is to get you to log into those services via their fake website, causing your account to be breached, your data stolen and you to be left in the deep end. It’s always worth hovering your mouse over provided links and double checking the destination URL. If in doubt, don’t click. 

“Alright. Can I stop spam emails from reaching me?” 

You sure can, Joanne. Most modern email services will offer you a method to filter out spam. You can also ask your internet service provider to help, as well as set up a system with your antivirus but these are pretty complex methods so we'll just go over the basics. 

In Gmail, just click on the big red '!' when looking at a questionable email to move it directly to your spam folder and stop the majority of emails from that source entering your inbox.  Most other email providers worth their salt should have a similar setup. 

If you are looking for an extra level of security, you can create custom filters in your email settings. In Gmail, you can create a filter for specific '.com' addresses to be blocked. To do this, find the spam message then click more in the menu. Now click on 'filter messages like these' and adjust the filter accordingly, before creating a filter with that search. 

"Thanks, AAG, now, what can I do about my laptop's battery time?" 

Well, Joanne, that depend's on what's wrong with your laptop. Your battery is important for long periods of use, but this sounds like another GFAQ in the making. We'll answer this question (and many more, we're sure...) next time.

In the meantime, if you or your IT department are looking for assistance with your IT services, consider giving us a call like Joanne and outsourcing to one of our experienced IT consultants. We can even be your IT department if you don't have one. External or on-site, find out what AAG-IT can do for your IT services today on 0114 352 0688.