Let’s Talk About Spam

Written by Casper Manes on April 13, 2012

Hello ASU readers! You asked for it, you’ve got it. Following on the heels of our Spamfighting Bootcamp series, we’re going to kick off a new series of posts on spam and how to talk to friends, family and coworkers about it. In this series, we’re going to try to provide you with guidance and examples of how to teach non-technical end users the skills we take for granted. Our own finally tuned noses can probably sniff a spam message out before our client has even finished downloading the header, but our friends, family, and end users just don’t have the skills, experience, or even the vocabulary we take for granted. So here is what we are going to do.

We are going to start with the premise that our “target audience” has just enough technical skills to use email. They might use a mail client, but more than likely just use their browser, and equate the Internet with either the “big blue E” on their desktop, or they refer to the Internet as “Google” because that’s how you set their homepage.

We’re not going to use the kittehs but we do reserve the right to treat the subjects with a bit of humour. We’re going to use a minimum of techno-babble and try to keep things as open and accessible to the regular end-users as we can, to make it easier for you to either have “the talk” with them, or if you want to chicken, err, opt-out, to give them web pages they can read on their own. Be prepared to field their questions though! There’s no substitute for clear and open advice from a trusted advisor, and it’s still your role to play.

Here’s what you can expect from this series of posts:

  1. What spam, phishing and malware are
  2. How does this concern you
  3. Identifying spam by its common attributes senders, spelling, and grammer (see what I did there?!)
  4. If it’s too good to be true, it’s not
  5. The use of FUD
  6. Identifying suspicious links
  7. Requests for personal information
  8. When to unsubscribe, and when to ignore
  9. Reporting spam
  10. Ways to protect yourself
  11. Things to consider before giving out your email address
  12. What to do if you’ve done the unthinkable

This list is not locked in stone (yet) so if you’d like to see something else covered, leave a comment and let me know. The purpose of this series is to help you, so if there’s a related topic you want to see, we’re happy to consider it. We want to make this is a valuable to you as we can.

By the way, if you missed the Spamfighting Bootcamp series, click the link in the opening paragraph, or check out this wrap-up post that has direct links to each topic. And finally, a special thanks to ASU reader Justin Harvey for the inspiration for this series.

Comments

Dylan Reynolds April 14, 2012

Sounds like quite the comprehensive list, but then it really is a good idea to start from square one. If I may put on the swami hat, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the professionals who come to this site and talk about the business side of spam look through these articles and maybe learn a small thing or two. Spam is a changing battlefield, and it’s quite difficult to stay perfectly on top of.

Samantha Joel April 14, 2012

I am so glad you decided to come up with a new series on spam. Personally, this is a great help for me since I am not a technical user and I also want to inform my families and friends about spam. True, we have all heard about spam, received it, seen it, even deleted it or sometimes, got caught up with it. That is why this new series is very important for users like me so that we will be more prepared and equipped with knowledge on how to deal with spam. After going through this series, I expect to define spam in layman’s term so that it will be easier for me to explain to others and also be able to identify and avoid it once received.

Excited to meet and get acquainted with spam in the coming days!

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