Preventing Email Spam and Email Loops: 5 Effective Strategies

Spam emails are not just annoying; they can also be dangerous, potentially exposing you to phishing attacks, malware, and other cyber threats. Moreover, email loops can cause a flood of messages, crippling your email system. This blog post outlines five effective strategies to help you combat spam emails and prevent email loops, ensuring your inbox remains clean and your email communication stays efficient.

How To Prevent Email Spam & Email Loops

Spam emails are unsolicited messages sent in bulk, often for commercial purposes, and they can be a significant nuisance. Email loops, on the other hand, occur when automated email systems keep sending messages back and forth, creating a never-ending cycle that can overwhelm your inbox. Here are five strategies to help you deal with these issues:

 

1. Use Advanced Spam Filters

Explanation:
Spam filters are your first line of defense against unwanted emails. They work by analyzing incoming messages for known spam characteristics and filtering them out before they reach your inbox.

Example:
Most email services, like Gmail or Outlook, have built-in spam filters that automatically move suspected spam messages to a separate folder. You can enhance their effectiveness by marking any spam that gets through as “Spam” or “Junk,” which helps the system learn and improve over time.

 

How to Implement:

– Enable your email service’s spam filtering options.
– Regularly check your spam or junk folder to ensure legitimate emails aren’t being filtered incorrectly.
– Mark any missed spam emails as “Spam” or “Junk” to train the filter.
– Consider third-party spam filtering services for additional protection if your email provider’s tools are insufficient.

 

2. Keep Your Email Address Private


Explanation:
Spammers often scrape websites and forums to collect email addresses. Keeping your email address private reduces the chances of it being harvested and targeted.

Example:
Instead of posting your email address in plain text on your website, use a contact form. On social media or public forums, avoid sharing your email address openly.

 

How to Implement:

– Use contact forms on your website rather than listing your email address.
– Avoid sharing your email address in public forums or social media profiles.
– Consider creating a separate email address for public use or online sign-ups.

 

3. Unsubscribe from Unwanted Newsletters

Explanation:
Sometimes, spam comes from legitimate sources, like companies that have added you to their mailing lists without your explicit consent.

Example:
You might start receiving emails from a retailer after making a purchase. These emails can clutter your inbox and sometimes trigger email loops if your auto-responder is activated.

 

How to Implement:

– Look for the “Unsubscribe” link, usually found at the bottom of promotional emails.
– Use email management tools or services that can help you unsubscribe from multiple lists at once.
– Be cautious when subscribing to new services or newsletters; make sure you’re not inadvertently agreeing to receive additional marketing materials.

 

4. Implement Email Authentication Protocols

Explanation:
Email authentication protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) help prevent spammers from spoofing your email domain.

Example:
An attacker might send emails pretending to be from your domain. If you have SPF, DKIM, and DMARC in place, these fraudulent emails are more likely to be rejected or marked as spam by receiving email servers.

 

How to Implement:

– Work with your domain administrator to set up SPF records that specify which mail servers are allowed to send emails from your domain.
– Implement DKIM to attach a digital signature to outgoing emails, verifying that they haven’t been tampered with.
– Configure DMARC policies to instruct receiving servers on how to handle emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks.

 

5. Set Up Rules to Avoid Email Loops


Explanation:
Email loops can occur when automated systems respond to each other indefinitely. Setting up rules can help prevent these loops by identifying and stopping the cycle.

Example:
An out-of-office auto-responder might trigger a loop if it keeps responding to another auto-responder. By setting up a rule that stops sending auto-responses after the first reply, you can prevent a loop from starting.

 

How to Implement:

– Configure your email auto-responder to exclude certain addresses or domains from receiving automatic replies.
– Set up a rule to limit the number of auto-responses sent to the same address within a specific timeframe.
– Monitor your sent items for signs of looping and adjust your rules accordingly.

 

Conclusion:


Spam emails and email loops can disrupt your workflow, compromise your privacy, and even pose security risks. By implementing the strategies outlined above, you can significantly reduce the amount of spam you receive and prevent the occurrence of disruptive email loops. Remember to stay vigilant, as spammers constantly evolve their tactics. Regularly updating your strategies and educating yourself on the latest spam trends will help keep your inbox safe and efficient.

 

Live IT Support Transcript Example:

Below is a live transcript of one of our IT Support Experts working with a client to clean up their email inbox from unwanted spam email.

Full Conversation:

Customer: Hello, Shannon?
Technician: Hi, this is Rishi. Can I get connected to your computer and look at your email?
Customer: Yeah, please. Do I just press the remote?
Technician: Yeah, hold on a second. Okay, can you see it?
Customer: Not yet. Hold on. Oh, my gosh. Sorry. Share screen, maybe?
Technician: Hold on. Sorry, it won’t let me share my screen with you. Can we just have you go to anydesk.com and download it?
Customer: Okay, let me try. It’s not letting me download it on my Mac.
Technician: Is it a Windows computer?
Customer: No, it’s a Mac.
Technician: Okay, try launching it and see if it asks for permission settings.
Customer: Okay, it’s asking me to download it to my applications. Should I proceed?
Technician: Yes, go ahead. What’s your email account?
Customer: It’s a Microsoft 365 account. The email is [email protected].
Technician: Okay, and what’s the password?
Customer: The password is capital B-R-I-A-R-J-U-N-E-1-2!
Technician: Alright, I see. Can you type the password in the chat?
Customer: Sure, here it is. Sorry for the confusion earlier.
Technician: No problem. So, what seems to be the issue with your email?
Customer: I woke up this morning and my phone and email are going off with hundreds of spam emails. It’s like they’re looping through different accounts and bouncing back.
Technician: I see. We can try changing your password and see if that helps. Would you like me to log in and take a look?
Customer: Yes, that would be great. The email account is [email protected].
Technician: Alright, let me log in and check for any unusual activity.
Customer: Thank you. I’ve already marked a lot of them as spam, but they keep coming in.
Technician: I’ll see if there are any rules or filters causing this issue. Can you tell me more about the emails you’re receiving?
Customer: They’re mostly spam emails, some in French, and some are bouncing back. It started after I received an email about a bid request.
Technician: It’s possible that your email got caught in a loop or someone is mass-sending emails to multiple people. Let me check your settings.
Customer: Thank you. I’ve already checked my DNS and IMAP settings, but everything seems normal.
Technician: I’ll keep investigating. In the meantime, you can try enabling multi-factor authentication for added security.
Customer: Okay, I’ll give that a try. Should I set it up through an incognito window?
Technician: Yes, that should work. Let me know if you need any assistance with that.
Customer: Alright, I’ll try it now. Hold on, I need to get my phone for the QR code.
Technician: Take your time. Let me know if you encounter any issues.
Customer: Okay, I’m back. It says my QR code is fake. That’s strange.
Technician: That’s unusual. Let me look into it further. Can you try turning on multi-factor authentication again?
Customer: It’s not letting me turn it on right now. Maybe because I’m still setting it up on my end.
Technician: That could be the case. Let’s give it some time and try again later.
Customer: Okay, I’ll keep trying. Thank you for your help.
Technician: No problem. I’ll continue investigating the issue with your email.