Everyone hates spam, it’s annoying and potentially dangerous. Your phone vibrates and you wonder who the message is from. You check it and it’s from Richard at FatZapperInc trying to flog you weight loss pills. Sophie from YouHaveBeenMissoldPPI.com emails you five minutes later to let you know that you have been mis-sold PPI. You delete the emails and forget about Richard and Sophie until a week later when they’re back in your inbox, and you start to wonder: how did they get your contact information? And how can you protect yourself from spam?

1. Take care how you design your website

If you have a personal or business website, you’ll want to show your contact information on it so potential customers can get in touch. The problem is that it’s not just customers who can see this information. Spammers will trawl through sites searching for the ‘@’ character to find email addresses to add to their mailing lists.

There are some ways to reduce spam received from these sources. You could display your email address as an image, so it’s only readable to humans. A downside of this is that most people want to be able to copy and paste the email address, and they can’t do this from an image. Alternatively you could have a ‘Contact Us’ button that is linked to your email address, you@example.com, so a user can just click the button to send you an email, this means a spammer wouldn’t be able to see the address on the actual page.

2. WHOIS opt out and domain privacy

By law, when you sign up for a domain name you have to register it with a phone number, personal address and email address. This information is publicly displayed on domain directory services like WHOIS. This is so customers and businesses can easily contact the owner of a website. However it can also be used by spammers. To reduce spam you can choose to protect this information from the public by adding domain privacy. This can be added when you create the domain, or if you have previously bought a domain with Fasthosts you can add privacy through your Fasthosts control panel.

Alternatively, if you’re making a personal website and not one for a business, you can opt out of registering to the WHOIS directory for free.

3. Antispam software

There are a number of antispam software applications available that can help reduce spam and the amount of unsolicited mail you receive. They work by using a range of preset filters, or by blocking mail based on the amount received. Using either of these methods the software will determine whether or not the mail you receive is genuine, or if the item should be sent to your spam or junk mail folders.

4. Spam filtering

If your email service is through an ISP (Internet Service Provider) then you may already have access to a spam filter. At Fasthosts, as part of our email hosting package we offer spam filtering that covers three main areas.

  • Spam Filter - Lets you set a spam filter sensitivity between 0 and 15, and define a method of detecting spam. For example, by blocking identified key words in the subject line.
  • Trusted Senders List - Allows you to add senders to a white list which guarantees their mail won't be marked as spam.
  • Spam Block List - Allows you to add email addresses that will instantly be filtered as spam or junk mail.

A detailed guide showing how Fasthosts email customers can manage the Fasthosts spam filter can be found here: https://help.fasthosts.co.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/21

5. Managing your inbox

Usually when you buy something online you have to provide an email address. This is partly so that the company can contact you with offers in the future. You may think of these emails as spam, but you’re only receiving them because you signed up to them. However, being a part of these mailing lists has risks. If that company’s website is compromised, then the hacker can obtain your email address from their mailing list. To avoid this and reduce spam it is best to unsubscribe from any mailing lists/newsletters that you are not interested in. Marketing mails have to include an unsubscribe option at the bottom of the mail, or you can unsubscribe in bulk using services like unroll.me. Before you sign up to these mailing lists, be aware of the risks that come with it. Some companies can and do sell your contact information to third parties, which will increase the amount of spam you receive, and increase the risk of your email being compromised.

Following this advice and best practices will help to reduce the amount of spam you receive and protect your inbox from hackers. Visit the Fasthosts website for more information on our email packages.