Why opening just one spam email can open the door for cybercriminals


Spam emails are an ongoing problem for internet users in 2018. Fraudsters and cybercriminals are constantly striving for new ways to infect your computers with spyware, malware and viruses. It’s always good practise to stay clued up on the current trends in these sneaky and illegal techniques, for both your business and personal online life, so you can remain one step ahead of the bad guys.

Depending on the system you use to manage your emails there will almost certainly be some form of spam filter in place. Often, these basic filters are pretty good at catching the most obvious spam messages. However, they aren’t foolproof. There is always a risk that particularly advanced or unexpected phishing emails will slip through into your inbox.

The moment you open an email your device will start doing several things in the background to allow the message to be displayed. For example, if an email includes images or resources like special fonts branding elements, these ‘embedded’ items are downloaded from the sender’s own web server. This alone isn’t suspicious. Plenty of legitimate businesses will use images and fonts from their servers to make emails more visually engaging and keeping them on brand. However, these techniques can be abused by fraudsters to find out more about you, and your device.

From that moment you open a spam email containing embedded elements, information is already being sent to the server hosting these elements. This information can include an IP address, device type, operating system version, geographical location, screen size, device language, device time, and much more. By using this information about you and your device, fraudsters can gauge how successful a spam campaign is, whether an email address is active and they can use this information to get to you with further campaigns.

To avoid potential fraudsters using your valuable information, we recommend utilising a more advanced spam filter. MailCleaner is an Open Source spam filter appliance gateway. By utilising our system you are arming yourself with an effective way to protect all your email mailboxes against spam and viruses, easy to install, insuring perfect data privacy, free and of “Swiss made” quality.