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How best to deal with junk, phishing and spam.

We’ve put together some handy tips to help you avoid unsolicited, useless and fraudulent e-mails.

Have you ever had an e-mail from a Nigerian prince offering you a fortune? You wouldn’t be the first, nor the last.

If you’re unfamiliar with this particular scam, there are many others; instant weight loss formulas, debt relief and foreign lotteries are but a few popular examples of fraudulent e-mails created with the sole intention of gaining your personal details.

So how can we avoid this widespread menace? There are numerous countermeasures in place that you may not even be aware of. E-mail and internet service providers build filters into their infrastructure but most of the time this simply isn’t enough.

Cyber Criminals are devious, always developing new methods of bypassing security and because of this, constant supervision is required. In a similar way that your antivirus has to update every day, spam filters require constant maintenance to stay ahead of the game.

Computer networks are facing an unprecedented number of threats. Last year a new malicious threat; either spam, phishing attack, malware or virus was released to the internet every 3.5 seconds. As unbelievable as that sounds, this year the threat level has increased to three new threats being introduced every second.

While there are certainly some pieces of software which are more effective at handling and keeping on top of spam than others, there is no permanent fix for the problem. What you can do however, is prepare yourself to be able to spot the difference between the hoax e-mails and those which you can trust and we’re always here to help.

Always be suspicious of unexpected e-mails, especially those which contain attachments.

The easiest way for a burglar to break in to your house is for you to give them the key to the front door, and the same goes for viruses. It’s always best to avoid downloading any e-mail attachments which you’re not already expecting. This is the easiest way for a virus to make its way onto your machine. The action of downloading a file means that it directly bypasses the barriers set up by your anti-virus and spam filters.

In the event that a suspicious attachment is saved accidentally, we recommend that a malware and spyware scan is run immediately and that you contact your IT provider as soon as possible.

Too much is never enough when it comes to your security.

While there are some default measures in place to protect against spam and viruses, I’m sure if you went into your spam inbox right now there’s still a few in there. Go on, have a look now. Default spam filters built into your internet package or operating system offer the lowest level of encryption but updates are few and far between; it’s the classic case of jack of all trades, master of none. The only way to fully keep on top of spam and viruses is by using intelligent, managed software that is built specifically to keep updated and protect against the latest threats.

Most preventative software is very low cost and keeps your involvement to a minimum, while ensuring that you have the lowest possible level of intrusion to your day to day work.

Be wary of unfamiliar e-mail addresses with domain suffixes such as .gov.

Many standard spam filters are set to allow certain “top-level domains” such as .gov for example, which is limited to government entities and agencies.

An example can be seen here from an address recently blocked by our internal spam filters; – because the domain here is actually “.uk” the owner is able to exploit this by adding text making it seem like a government address, therefore bypassing many spam filters.

Understandably this can be deceiving, so we would always recommend thoroughly checking these addresses before accessing any content within these type of mails. If in doubt, get in touch with Prism!

Analyst firms state that spam comprises almost 80% of all e-mail traffic sent over the internet. Security is always paramount and we strongly recommend that preventative measures are put in place so as not to leave any of your data at risk.

If you are unsure about the quality of your current anti-virus protection, please speak to your Prism account manager.