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E-mail users must stop giving spammers what they want

By Dries Morris, Operations Director at Securicom.

Johannesburg, 16 Apr 2012

A far cry from Bill Gates' prediction at the 2004 World Economic Forum that the problem of spam would be solved by 2006, spam today accounts for over three quarters of all e-mails sent.

Bar being just plain annoying due to the sheer volume and irrelevance of messages, spam is becoming increasingly dangerous to e-mail users. Dries Morris, the Operations Director at Securicom, a South Africa-based IT security services and consulting company, says more education around the dangers of spam is necessary.

“Spammers are very adept at disguising spam as legitimate e-mails so that they can slip by undetected by less-effective e-mail security software. Spammers then rely on the curiosity and naivety of e-mail users to open their messages. Once they're opened, uninitiated users are lured to unsafe or spoof sites, tricked into divulging personal or sensitive information, and opening attachments containing viruses and spyware.

“While robust, up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware technologies can stop malicious code from causing trouble on the endpoint or network; these technologies cannot stop recipients from giving spammers the desired response and falling victim to their ploys to steal information, money and identities.

“That is why education and awareness is fundamental to protecting e-mail users. People need to understand the risks,” says Morris.

He offers some ground rules that all e-mail users should abide by:

* Make sure you have installed a credible anti-spam, anti-virus and anti-spyware solution from a trusted vendor. Do not download free software from the Internet, firstly because they tend to create a high false positive rate, whereby valid mail is detected as spam and removed. Secondly, users who install this software from an untrusted source often discover that the very software they are using to target spam has in fact installed spyware on their systems.
* Ensure that your e-mail security software is up to date.
* Avoid opening e-mails from senders who you do not recognise, especially those with dubious subject lines. If you don't have an uncle living in the UK who could have passed away and left you money, the e-mail is undoubtedly a con. Similarly, if you have never entered a competition to win R1 million, the chances that you have won are slim and you should not open the e-mail.
* Do not share your e-mail address or contact details online. If you must supply an e-mail address to register on a Web site, use a disposable e-mail address.
* Never click on links embedded in messages or open attachments.
* Do not reply to spam messages.
* Never fill out forms in an e-mail message requiring personal or financial information or passwords. A credible company isn't likely to ask for personal details via e-mail.
* When your e-mail security solution recognises a spam message and shelves it in your junk or spam folder, add the sender to your blocked list and delete the e-mail. This helps “train” your security software to identify what you consider to be spam.

Morris stresses that a robust e-mail security solution is crucial for spotting and stopping the vast majority of spam. However, he is adamant that e-mail users have a big role to play in ensuring they don't fall prey to cons perpetuated through spam.

“Stop giving spammers what they want. It is as simple as that,” he says.

Securicom provides a comprehensive, packaged solution for managing e-mail and e-mail security. The solution, e-Purifier, utilises best-of-breed technologies, including Symantec Brightmail, and encompasses e-mail content management, anti-spam, recipient validation and three layers of anti-virus to provide proactive and effective management of e-mail at ISP level. It is a fully hosted solution that is offered on a subscription basis.



Securicom is a specialist IT security management and consulting company offering an end-to-end range of fully hosted and managed IT security services.

All Securicom's solutions utilise world-leading technologies, which are innovatively packaged together for their individual strengths and combined with Securicom's expertise, to deliver comprehensive protection against known and emerging threats.

Securicom's services include: advanced e-mail content filtering and management (e-Purifier); hosted e-mail archiving and retrieval (MailVault); e-mail branding (e-Branding); vulnerability scanning (Securiscan); perimeter protection (Managed Firewalls); optimised wide area data services (Managed WDS); remote access security (Securicom SSL VPN) and Optimised Remote Access Services; and WebSecure, which inspects, filters and cleans inbound and outbound Web traffic to combat browser-based threats such as bots, phishing and other malicious active content.

Securicom has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Namibia, and offers its services in 10 other African countries.

For more information on Securicom, please visit

Editorial contacts

Kerry Webb
(011) 849 8712