Identifying spam can sometimes be a hard task as spammers get better and better at their “job”. While last time we pointed out the key facts that differentiate spam from phishing, you should already know by now what spam looks like. Now it’s time to get back to the basics of spam.
Still the main question remains: how can you identify spam? It is not an easy question, nor a hard one. It all depends on the situation the spammer is taking advantage of, thus these key spam signs may or may not apply to different situations.
Being aware of how spam looks like and being able to identify it is something everyone should know, however it won’t stop the spam from reaching your mailbox.
Basic Spam Traits:
- Unknown Sender – Having no idea who the sender is can be classified as the first spam trait.
- Unexpected Email – No one expects spam emails. So when you receive one that’s unexpected, you can ask yourself if that email is spam or not.
- Typosquatting – Also known as URL hijacking or fake URL, it usually relies on typos in domain names or TLDs. One good example of domain typosquatting is Twiter (one “t” missing).
- Links leading to certain web pages – Most links impersonate legitimate websites or redirect to certain marketplaces where spammers sell some products that are actually fake. Spammers also leverage short-links in large numbers and then redirect to certain websites.
- Bad grammar – Most spam emails contain tons of grammar mistakes which are easy to spot if you read the content carefully.
- Emails full of plain-text or just an image with no written text – In most cases, spammers send emails that are written in plain-text or just send an image with no text in an attempt to circumvent spam filters.
- Things are either very good or very bad – In order to distract your attention, spammers try to trigger two basic emotions: joy and fear. Therefore, emails coming from an unknown sender which bring either very bad or good news are usually a sign of spam.
- Check for attachments – Some spam emails contain malicious attachments such as executables: .exe, .bat, .jar, or just archives, .zip, .rar, .tar, .gz. Never open attachments from an unknown sender and never execute them. Also, some spammers leverage Microsoft Office documents with macros inserted, meaning that macros contain malicious code can infect your computer and cause some real damage, just by opening a .doc/.docx, .xls/xlsx.
- Basic keywords – Most spammers leverage keywords related to marketing or sales, such as: buy, order, shopper, shipping, invoice, receipt, cash, free, and so on.
Remember that spam usually tries to sell you something. Check for the above steps to minimize the risk of being tricked into buying something of low quality or having your computer infected with malware.
In case you encountered other spam traits, please reach out to us via our comment form and we will update our list.