Spam emails are decreasing, but you can’t relax just yet

Spam emails are decreasing, but you can’t relax just yet

When it comes to the global volume of spam email, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Since 2015, the percentage of spam email traffic has been dropping steadily, from 61.9% back in January 2015 to just over 48% in March 2018. That’s great news for workplace productivity and data security. However, spam remains the number one delivery vector for a multitude of threats.

What are the most common spam email categories?

More than a quarter of all spam emails are intended to spread malicious software, which is the main reason behind the unprecedented rise of ransomware over the last couple of years. The remainder of spam emails are unsolicited advertising which, while usually not dangerous, have an immediate negative effect on staff productivity and bandwidth consumption. Many corporate funds are wasted dealing with all kinds of spam email.

Different industries generate varying levels of spam email volume. Commonly spammed categories are stocks, finance, jobs, and adult products. In first place is healthcare, comprising 27% of all unsolicited advertising; dating is in third, with just over 21% of spam volume. These figures fluctuate every year, but the same general rule applies — spammers capitalize on deeply relevant concerns like finances, health, or even loneliness, as the rise of dating-related spam demonstrates.

Because of the ubiquity of spam, organizations in affected industries have a harder time building trust with the public. People are now more wary of email coming from them. Spam mail makes reputation management and branding more difficult.

Spam volume may be dropping, but scams are getting smarter

In terms of raw statistics, spam might be dropping steadily, but that doesn’t make it any safer. After all, cybercriminals are constantly seeking new ways to work around spam filters and other security controls to unleash potentially devastating phishing scams on their victims. Worse, they use social engineering tactics to come up with smarter and more targeted scams, making it much harder for machines alone to detect and mitigate them.

Sadly the numbers are stacked against you. You need to filter hundreds of email to keep your system safe, but it only takes one malicious email to get through to cause disaster. That’s why you still need industry-level filters despite the decrease in spam mail.

You can’t become a victim if you don’t engage

With spam, you can’t become a victim if you don’t engage. Social engineering scams, for example, rely on the intended victim taking a desired action, such as clicking on a malicious link or giving away confidential information like password or payment details. It’s really less about flaws in technology itself and more a matter of human ignorance.

It comes down to a lack of awareness training — a poorly trained workforce is like an open door inviting hackers in. You need to train your staff in best practices against scams, so that they’ll learn how to spot spam email and what to do with them. The following practices need to be instilled in every employee:

  • Never give out or post their email in public.
  • Think before they click anything, especially opening attachments.
  • Do not reply to spam messages.
  • Remember to unsubscribe.

And employee training is not a one-time thing; regular update sessions should be scheduled, so they are aware of the latest threats.

Despite the ever-changing cyber threat landscape, spam continues to be one of the biggest hindrances to workplace productivity. With a combination of the right technical and administrative measures, you can protect your bottom line and keep spam from sidetracking business growth.

Online Computers provides cutting-edge IT hardware, software, and expertise you can depend on to protect your business. Call us today to find out more.

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