Recently a client asked why they were getting spam in their email and there are many plausible scenarios for why people, in general, receive these types of messages. This article is only going to focus on a couple of these reasons.
Data breaches/scraped email addresses
Data breaches, or by scraping web content, are a couple of reasons why people receive spam.
During a data breach, various data is exposed. This data typically includes email addresses, usernames, and passwords. This is by no means an exhaustive list of data that can be exposed, but for the purpose of understanding how people get spam emails it should suffice.
Once someone with ill intent has the content of a database, even if they aren’t able to crack any passwords, the emails collected are still useful for spam.
If you sign up for an online account and your email is made public, or, for example, you post to a forum and include your email address in your post, people can create code that will collect and parse the data. Once the list of emails is constructed, spam can be sent to them.
There is a possibility of receiving spam because someone in your contacts is infected with malware which sends spam to everyone in their contact list.
There are several other ways you might receive spam. What was mentioned here is just a couple of them. The thing with spam is that once your email is out, it’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. In other words, it’s not easy to get your email under wraps again. Spam does not seem to be going away any time soon.
Password protect your email and other online accounts. Also use two factor authentication if available.
Set up a throwaway email account. You can use these to sign up for websites/social media that you might find not overly trustworthy. If you do get spammed, then it’s not the end of the world.
Use anti-virus. Make sure it’s updated frequently and scheduled scans are run. This will help prevent being infected with any currently discovered malware.