Spam is basically junk email and is used as a cheap way to advertise. The term spam was originally used to describe emails which were
Since then people have also started using it to describe phishing and malware emails. Phishing emails are often called spam but they have different intentions. They are not trying to sell a product or service though they may pretend they are to trick you. They attempt to acquire information such as your usernames, passwords and credit card details by sending an email which appears to be from a legitimate business, organisation or individual. These emails most commonly direct you to click a link, go to a website and enter your details which are then captured and used to access your accounts without your knowledge. When spam and phishing emails contain viruses and links to websites (which have viruses or spyware) they are described as malware (mal is short for malicious). When files attached to emails are opened or links to malicious websites are clicked on they can trigger installation of software on your computer which captures your usernames, passwords and financial account details.
It is essential to educate yourself about phishing emails because identification and prevention is the best protection against these scams.
The Department of Communications provides a number of resources about online safety and security
According to the first quarter 2013 Commtouch Internet Threats Trend Report an average of 97.4 billion spam emails and 973 million malware emails were sent worldwide each day. In March the number of daily spam emails sent was 117.8 billion. Spam is an international problem and many governments have introduced legislation to start trying to combat it.
The Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy has links to the current Australian Anti-Spam legislation which is due to be updated in 2014. If you read the Act you will notice this legislation only targets the emails which fit the original definition of spam ie unsolicited advertising for a product or service which is sent to multiple recipients. Its aim is to regulate commercial email and other types of commercial electronic messages.
There are a variety of ways spammers and cybercriminals obtain email addresses including
A cybercriminal is an individual who uses computers or mobile devices and the Internet to commit crimes such as distributing viruses, spyware and malware, identity theft, stealing account details, hacking etc.
There is a fine line between preventing delivery of unsolicited email whilst providing access to legitimate email. Anti-spam software and hardware appliances are used to block delivery of emails based on a set of rules including
Whilst emails containing the above are unsolicited by most they are legitimate for some eg those who are a member of online dating sites, use online casinos, purchase medication from online pharmacies, are receiving emails that contain a swear word etc. This is where the difficulty lays in identifying spam emails at an enterprise level. This is why you should review blocked messages on a regular basis to ensure no legitimate emails have been blocked. If they have been you can elect to deliver the and approve the sender. See links to using the CSU spam filtering system in the sections below for more information.
The best defence against spam is to take proactive steps to reduce it in your primary accounts. One way to limit possible exposure is by creating an additional email account which you only use to sign up to mailing lists, chat rooms, blogs, coupon providers, newsletters etc. You can also use it when completing forms on websites to request information. That way if one of the organisations sells their lists this account gets spammed instead of your primary account(s) eg work and home.
Be careful when downloading adware, freeware and shareware. These sites often ask for an email address before providing access to the download. Use an additional email account (as advised above). You should also only get software from large and trusted sites. Always scan a file before opening in case it is infected with a virus.
The CSU Spam Filtering System scans incoming and outgoing emails for spam. If an email is deemed to be spam, it will be quarantined by the CSU Spam Filtering System. They are filtered into quarantine in case they are legitimate emails. If they are you can deliver and approve sender so future emails from that sender are always delivered and not quarantined. You will receive a daily notification of any emails which have been detected as spam so you can login, review and take the necessary action. You can login to the system from anywhere you have an Internet connection using the address below.