Spam is defined as any unsolicited bulk messaging that takes place online. Most commonly, B2B lead generation professionals either get spammed or see their outbound email blacklisted as spam. It is much rarer to find your inbox flooded with bounced emails you never sent in the first place. You start thinking, “If it wasn’t me, who sent those emails? Someone is sending emails under my name!”
What does it mean for you? Either your account has been compromised or hacked so that someone uses it to send out junk messages. Or a cloned email account was created using your email address. The situation looks bad: All your contacts get bombarded with commercial advertising, money scams, or contest winner emails, or you get an inbox full of ‘message not received.’
Whereas this can hardly be prevented at all, some security steps can minimize the odds. First, let’s find out the exact reason for your email sending spam. Then, we will know how to fix it.
Scenario 1: My email is sending out spam because I am being spoofed. Email spoofing occurs when not your entire account but only your email address is being hijacked, and the sender modifies the From and Reply-To fields as if spam messages were sent from you.
How do spammers spoof emails?
- They may have accessed the data on your computer or phone through viruses, trojans, ransomware, etc.
- They may have got hold of your email address through leaked email address lists.
Why do spammers engage in sending spam emails?
- They increase their email deliverability rates by using reputable email addresses and passing through spam filters and getting right into your contacts’ Inbox.
- They improve their own domain reputation as bounced emails go to your Inbox rather than theirs.
Email hacked sending spam
Scenario 2: My email is sending out spam because my email has been hacked or compromised.
First, let’s clarify the difference between email hacking and compromising. Digital compromises can sound synonymous. A hack, or hijacking, implies malicious intent while a compromise, or a data breach, happens due to security vulnerability.
How do spammers hack emails?
- Hackers hunt for email login names and passwords through phishing, credential stuffing, and other email hacking techniques.
- By letting your password be seen in plain text or posting your email addresses online leaves your data vulnerable to a quick hacker access.
Why do spammers hack emails? By taking the full control of your account, hackers:
- get access to your contacts and start sending spam to them;
- impersonate you and get your family and friends send you money or buy something from you;
- steal your identity and personal data, such as photos, passwords, names, addresses;
- gain access to your other accounts, such as bank accounts and any other sites with two-factor authentication system;
- access job-related sensitive information, such as the company’s financial details, logins, and passwords.
Things that won’t help me if my email is sending out spam
Closing their accounts is almost a knee-jerk reaction for many, reasoning, “If someone is sending emails under my name, they won’t be able to spam my contacts anymore after I close the account.” In most cases, however, closing an account won’t help. In case of email spoofing, a “closed” account doesn’t prevent spamming because spammers do not physically enter your account; they just use your email address to forge their email addresses.
In case your email gets hacked, hackers are skilled enough to keep sending spam even from a “closed” account, or they can re-open the account, or they’ve scrapped all data from your account, so closing it is pointless, or they’ve changed passwords and you cannot access and close it. In any case, closing your account has no practical value.
What to do if your email is sending spam?
Having your email account hacked or compromised is an unpleasant experience by all means. If scammers get hold of your work email account, it is a double trouble. Your B2B lead generation efforts from this account can go to waste. Your email deliverability rate gets compromised. If you know little about spam and related issues, let the experts from Belkins help you to understand spam filters as well as many other angles of B2B marketing and lead generation. Find out what a lead is, according to Belkins, attending the agency’s vast library of articles and resources.
So, what is typically recommended to do if your email is sending spam? The suggestions are similar both for emails being spoofed and hacked:
- First, reset your email account password to get control over your account. Then use another device to log in and apply the Forgot My Password option. If you are lucky, you will be able to log in using a new password. If you’re out of luck, contact Gmail, Outlook or whatever ESP (email service provider) you use and ask for their help.
- Next, scan your computer for malware and viruses. If bounced emails keep returning within 24 hours even after your account has stopped sending them, you may want to install a filter to block the messages from coming.
By changing your password, you cut off the hacker and spamming stops. But not spoofing. Overall, users have no control over email spoofing and have only one thing left – to wait out until the spammer moves on to their other activities.
However, if you check out the email header and find “authenticated sender” in it and trace the IP address of the original message, you can request the owner of ISP to blacklist the sender. In many cases, such requests are rejected but you should try this option anyway.
How to prevent your email address from being spoofed?
The recommendations, first of all, include general security steps and creating a strong password.
- Use online password generators to produce strong passwords.
- Avoid using the same password for different websites.
- Use a 2-step verification for your ESP (email service provider).
- Avoid posting your email on websites, posts, and chat rooms.
- If posting your email address is absolutely necessary, use (at) and (dot)com instead of @ and .com to protect your data from malicious web scraping.
- Use free throwaway email addresses for fill-in forms and sign-ups.
- Check your computer for viruses at least once a week.
- Reset your passwords regularly.
- Avoid using your primary email address to communicate with people you don’t know.
- Check your email inbox regularly as mostly inactive emails are spoofed.
Is sending spam emails dangerous?
Finding out that your email account has been hacked or spoofed is highly annoying. It compromises your domain reputation and disrupts your business lead gen workflows. Unfortunately, you cannot immediately stop spam coming from your spoofed account but you can use all the best practices out there to keep your work accounts safe and secure by following our recommendations. Digital safety is an ongoing issue. Whereas users find ways to protect their data, hackers find means to circumvent their protection. The digital war is on. Consult professionals before the trouble strikes.