Everyone hates spam – not only is it annoying, it’s also potentially dangerous. When your phone vibrates and you wonder who the message is from, it's often some company that you’ve never heard of trying to sell you something that you don’t want. Even if you delete the email and forget about it, a week later you've got another one back in your inbox. How on earth did they get your information and how can you protect yourself in the future?

1. Stop spam emails with your website design

If you have a personal website or business website, you’ll want to display your contact information on it so potential customers can get in touch. The problem with this is that it’s not only 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 however a number of ways to reduce spam received from these sources. By displaying your email address as an image, it’ll ensure that it’s only readable to humans. A downside of this though 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 so that a user can just click the button to send you an email. This prevents a spammer from being 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 such as WHOIS. The reason for this is so that customers and businesses can easily contact the owner of a website –  it can however, 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 rather than a business one, you can opt out of registering to the WHOIS directory for free.

3. Stop email spam with 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 of mail sent to you. By 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. What is spam filtering?

If your email service is through an ISP, an Internet Service Provider, then you may already have access to a spam filter. As part of our email hosting package at Fasthosts, 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 keywords 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 our spam filter can be found here:

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 or newsletters that you’re 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 online services. Before you sign up to these mailing lists, you should 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 while increasing the risk of your email being compromised.

6. Reporting spam emails

Reporting spam email to your email provider or the spammer’s email provider can help reduce spam for everyone. You can recognise a spam email a number of different ways. By expanding the email to show the sender’s email address, for example, you can see that the email what you believed was from a major company such as Microsoft, is actually from an address that isn’t. Similarly, you should always right-click on a hyperlink to see what the actual address is, because it may be different than the actual highlighted word.

Yet another way of spotting a spam email is by checking the header; this contains lots of information about the email’s journey and can be investigated to see if it looks as it should. You can learn more about how to this in our ‘How to report spam emails’ blog.

Following this advice and these 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 or learn more about how to set up your spam filters here.