Oct 23, 2022

What is SPAM?

What is SPAM and how do I prevent it? Tackle SPAM at the source and make sure you don't receive any more SPAM email!

What is SPAM?

You probably hear it everywhere, see it in your e-mail client and read it more often on the Internet: SPAM. But what exactly is SPAM? Why do we use the term SPAM and what does it mean for everyone?

What is SPAM?

In short, SPAM is basically unsolicited electronic mail. By this we mean mainly unwanted e-mail that you receive from third parties that you have not asked for.

However, it can also be advertising or banners that you come across on the Internet without asking for them. You can actually say that anything you receive or see digitally that you don’t want is SPAM.

The most common SPAM is often a newsletter with an unsolicited offer, a lottery you seem to have won or a product you get for free.

SPAM or Phishing

A few years ago it was mainly SPAM that you received. They got your email address because it was plain on your website, for example, or they guessed that with your domain name you do use the info@ email address.

This is where they sent their SPAM and hoped that you clicked on it and took action. Nowadays, SPAM has become a lot smarter and broader and you will already get it outside your email on your smartphone as SMS or Whatsapp or on other channels.

Nowadays you will also receive SPAM because somewhere a website or APP has been hacked and your e-mail address was in the database. They then use that database to send you very targeted e-mails to ensure that you take the action they want to achieve.


Nowadays, besides SPAM, there is another new method that can cause much more damage than SPAM, namely Phishing.

In short, this also amounts to SPAM, you get an unwanted digital action. Only the big difference with SPAM is that you’re trying to fool them into something.

For example, they may send you an e-mail on behalf of your own bank stating that your account has expired. They ask you to reactivate your account to log in to the bank’s page.

You click on the link they send along, then get to the bank’s page and log in. Then you get a notification that your account has been reactivated, which makes you think all is well again.

But, you made one big mistake!

The link you pressed did not come out to the bank’s website. They made the domain name / URL look as good as possible, but it was a fake website hosted on the phisher’s servers.

Because you log into the bank’s counterfeit page, your bank login information is stored in the phisher’s database and they can then use your information to log into your bank. This makes it possible for them to transfer money and you are actually robbed of your own money!

How do you recognize phishing?

You often receive phishing as SPAM. Nowadays SPAM filters and e-mail clients are already very smart compared to a few years ago. Often it is already stopped by the filters of the e-mail provider and your e-mail client.

In case the SPAM with phishing messages does get through to your inbox, it is useful to check if the e-mail you receive looks legitimate.

You do this by checking the following, among other things:

  • The sender, is it correct and coming from the right domain name?

  • The spelling and text in the e-mail. Is it correct as you normally get it?

  • Any links in the email. Hold your mouse over it and see where they link to. In the case of a bank, does the link actually go to the bank’s domain name?

Often a phishing link looks a lot like the bank’s domain name. For example, you might have ing.nl and in the phishing email you see : login-ing.nl.domain.nl. You see ing.nl and therefore it looks like it is safe. This is so not, because it does not end in ing.nl, but in domain.nl.

Why do I suddenly get a lot of SPAM?

It is possible that you suddenly get a lot more SPAM than a while ago. Obviously very annoying and you want to reduce or completely prevent this at all times.

Reasons for more SPAM

  • Your e-mail and data has been sold to third parties:

Suppose you participated in a contest, then the data entered may well have been sold on to marketing companies!

  • A customer database or email file has been cracked:

Suppose you are a customer at coolblue.nl and a hack takes place where customer data or customer accounts are hacked. Often this data is resold on the Internet to people with malicious intentions, such as phishing purposes. Because of this you may suddenly receive much more SPAM than before!

  • Your email address is on a website:

Suppose you have a nice website and want to contact customers or visitors through your email. Because of this, you decide to include your email address on your website. Crawlers/ robots scanning the Internet scan websites, scrape the email accounts from them and build up an email file.

This email file then becomes so large that they sell it to a third party and this party may decide to send SPAM here, or phishing or other nasty stuff!

To avoid this, we always recommend not putting your full email address on your website OR even better, use contact forms with recaptcha so your email address is not visible anywhere!

  • Your social media account you have authorized with a website:

Nowadays, it is often possible to log in with your social media account (Facebook, for example) on a website. This gives the owner of the website your email address and can then build a database to sell or use to send SPAM. So be aware of the websites where you register with your socialmedia account.

What does a SPAM filter do?

When you talk about SPAM, you often talk about a SPAM filter. But, what is a SPAM filter, what does it do and most importantly, what can a SPAM filter do?

A SPAM filter’s main domain is to recognize SPAM and prevent it from entering your inbox. It does this using multiple metrics, building up a SPAM score.

If this score is higher than a threshold you set, the SPAM filter stops the e-mail or tags it, putting it in your : “Junk e-mail or SPAM folder.”

Your SPAM filter is learning every day!

Your SPAM filter is learning every day. You can make it smarter by moving e-mails that arrive in your inbox but are still SPAM to the SPAM folder.

Your SPAM filter will analyze these e-mails and include them as a filter metric. This makes the SPAM filter smarter because you help it learn and tag emails that thus feature SPAM.

So it is always advisable not to delete SPAM emails, but to drag/move them to the SPAM folder of your email account!


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