Are You Opening Your Spam Email Messages?

spamA survey conducted by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group or MAAWG reveals that a almost half of computer users in North America and Western Europe not only open spam emails, but also click on the links and open attachments found within these messages intentionally. This not only invites more spam, but potentially exposes them to a large number of security risks as well.

Data from the survey revealed that:

  • Nearly half of those who have accessed spam (46%) have done so intentionally – to unsubscribe, out of curiosity, or out of interest in the products or services being offered.
  • Four in ten (43%) say that they have opened an email that they suspected was spam.
  • Among those who have opened a suspicious email, over half (57%) say  they have done so because they weren’t sure it was spam and one third (33%) say they have done so by accident.
  • 84% were aware of the concept of bots. Yet, most think that they are immune from these viruses, with only a third saying they consider it likely that they could get a bot on their computer.

Spammers have mechanisms which allow them to track whether their emails are accessed or not. Opening or even unsubscribing from spam messages further invites them to send even more spam. Furthermore, Spam messages these days are not only vehicles to solicit or sell goods and services of dubious source and value, but are increasingly being used as vectors to spread malicious software or malware. Clicking on a link, opening an attachment, or just viewing it can potentially open users’ computers to vulnerabilities in the operating system or installed applications. This in turn can turn compromised systems into “bots”, or unwitting accomplices in spreading more spam or malware.

It pays to be aware of this next time you receive suspicious email – and make sure that your employees understand the risks as well. Sometimes even your antivirus software isn’t enough to protect you – so please ask us about our Managed Security Services and how we can help you not only fight spam but prevent it from reaching your Inbox in the first place.

Related articles:

‎Brazil-originated spam levels topping 13% says Panda Security (infosecurity.com)

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