Gone are the days when your inbox contained only emails that were of relevance to you and your business. According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, 77% of email recipients spend approximately 10 minutes per day dealing with spam. What does that mean in terms of lost productivity? For argument's sake, if one of your employees earns $25 per hour, then 10 minutes is worth $4.16, totaling upwards of $83 per month—just for one employee. Multiply that figure for all your employees for the entire year and it's clear that spam has enormous costs in terms of lost productivity. You and your business cannot afford to waste time sorting and deleting email.
The following tips can help curb the influx of spam, freeing your inbox for relevant messages and increasing productivity:
This solution should protect your network from spam and viruses while still allowing legitimate email through. Before investing in any security solution, however, consider the size of your business and IT resources (if any) and make sure to select the solution that best fits your needs.
Once you have your anti-spam solution in place, you need to configure the type of filter required. A good place to start is to have a filter that focuses on the most common spam criteria: the "To" field. Spam is rarely addressed to you personally, so it's important to configure your filter to reroute email that is not directed to you or does not have your email address in the "To" field. Test the filter to see how much, if any, legitimate email is tagged as spam. If this occurs, simply adjust your filter settings to allow addresses commonly mistaken for spam to reach your inbox.
Allow your employees the option to sort through their own junk mail to determine what is and isn't spam; sometimes legitimate emails can accidentally end up in the junk or trash folder. You might also want to consider allowing them to set their own spam filter variables.
Advise your employees to be on the lookout for suspicious email messages, and to never fill out forms in email messages that ask for personal or financial information or passwords. Remember that legitimate companies will never ask for this type of information via email. Make sure to also remind your employees to never respond to spam. A response will let the spammer know they have reached an active email address, and this just leads to even more spam. Likewise, clicking on links within a spam email that promises to remove you from the sender's mailing list will again just confirm the email address for the spammer.
Once you make your email address public on the Internet, you risk finding an inbox full of spam. Some suggestions:
- Use a separate email address when signing up for mailing lists, e-newsletters, or e-zines. Never use your personal email on a public forum or you can be sure you'll be inundated with spam. With a separate disposable email address, you can go through the account and pick out what is and isn't spam, saving space on your main personal email address.
- Get multiple email addresses for multiple purposes. Have one email address specifically for personal use, known only to family, friends, and colleagues. Another email address could be used for mailing lists and newsletters, and still another for online inquires and orders.
- Look into disposable address services, which allow you to create a unique address for unique purposes. A disposable email address can forward emails to your real email address. The service allows you to track which addresses are getting spam. When the email address begins attracting too much spam, you can simply delete it and create a new one.
If you have your email address or employees' email addresses posted on your business website, expect spam. Address-harvesting spambots will trawl your site and extract what it determines as email addresses. Specifically, it will look for the "email@example.com" sequence. If you are determined to leave email addresses on your website, spell out the address – "name at company dot com"—this will drastically reduce spam. Otherwise, remove email addresses and use web-based forms instead.
Report suspicious online promotions of Symantec/Norton branded software to firstname.lastname@example.org
. You may also inform the local contact of the Business Software Alliance (check the contacts list at www.bsa.org
), or you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
about a particular spam email.