A clean inbox is easier said than done.  Have you ever worked relentlessly through all your emails only to hit Send/Receive and get another one hundred, most of which are unsolicited spam? You delete a handful and it seems like you’re dealt another round, many times from similar sources or forged addresses.   The natural tendency is to finally take the time to click through the email, locate the Unsubscribe button and get your email address removed.  And while this seems like a good course of action, there may be some reasons why you may NOT want to go the Unsubscribe route. Here’s why…

  1. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button confirms to the sender that your email address is valid.  Spammers, cybercriminals and other groups who desire to exploit your email addresses usually collect or purchase this information by the hundreds of thousands not knowing which addresses are in use.  They even go as far as create programs that randomly generate (best guess) email addresses hoping to get lucky on a few.  When you click on an Unsubscribe option, you all but confirm that your email address is valid and that you activity monitor it. You also let them know that you were intrigued enough to click on the email in the first place. You can then expect a heavy dosage of more targeted spam advertisements.
  2. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button can relay critical information about your Email Security (or lack thereof).  Many Unsubscribe options request that you reply back to the sender or a particular email address with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.  By following through with this request, you can be inadvertently supplying a spammer with additional information about what email software you use, if your emails are being tagged as actively filtered by an antivirus security solution, etc., and these details give them a better understanding on what in their malicious arsenal may be best effective against you.  There are even cases where clicking on the Unsubscribe link will open a new web browser, where from this new browser a hacker may be able to retrieve your ip address and geographical location.
  3. Clicking on an Unsubscribe embedded link or Unsubscribe button may result in malware getting downloaded to your system.  Think about it.  Spoofed links and images are part of the definition of phishing schemes. Socially engineered email attachments are still a top method for getting users to download and install malware (ie. CryptoLocker).  Attackers are routinely using the Unsubscribe option to trick users into clicking it.  Don’t blindly click on the Unsubscribe options.  Many times you can rollover the link or button and see they redirect to some rogue website.

Given all the above, what should you do when you receive these types of email.

  1. Use common sense.  If you recently signed up for an email newsletter from your local pizza shop to take advantage of a free large pizza for joining and then get inundated with emails from them in the days following, it is likely safe to Unsubscribe from their listing.
  2. Mark the email message as Spam or Junk.  Many of the leading free and web-based email providers like (Hotmail, Google, etc.) allow you to report the spam that made it through their initial filters.  By marking these messages as spam, the greater likelihood that similar messages will be caught and removed automatically.
  3. Choose to Delete the email.  Simple enough.  Don’t open it.  Don’t view it.  Report it as Spam and then simply delete it without even viewing the message.  Again, most email providers will provide you a checkbox option in front of the message in the Inbox.
  4. Install Security Software.  If you are using a client-based email software such as Microsoft Outlook or similar, consider installing security software.

Source: Ministry Tech


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