How To

Spam, spam, go away

Authored by a Symantec employee


Spam. In some ways, it's the electronic equivalent of junk mail and junk phone calls. Spam is not only an unsolicited and annoying nuisance, it's also a pervasive problem that's clogging and overwhelming the Internet's email systems. Spam accounts for approximately 80 percent of worldwide email volume.

A security suite that helps protect your devices.

Free security software just doesn’t have the resources to keep up with new threats as they emerge. That’s why you need a multi-layered defense to security. Meet Norton Security Premium — protection for up to 10 of your devices.

In other ways, spam is worse than junk mail or junk phone calls. Although some spam is simply unwanted but legitimate advertising, much of it is worse. It can include everything from scam offers to malicious code--all designed to wreak havoc on your financial well-being or on your computer. Here are some of the most current and prevalent spam threats:

Trojan Horses

These files are hidden in email attachments that, when opened, install malicious code--typically spyware or viruses--designed to steal or destroy data on your PC.


This type of malware also comes in an email attachment, but turns your computer into a server for the purpose of sending spam to other PCs. Zombies are on the increase and now occupy six percent of all PCs in the United States.

Phishers and Vishers

Phishers send emails that try to mimic messages from legitimate financial companies or other businesses you may actually use. The spam phishing email will ask you to go to a fake or "spoofed" website to re-enter your credit card number or verify your password. Vishers will ask you to call them to do the same thing. Remember that reputable businesses will never make such requests by email.

Plain Old Scams

You have neither won a lottery in Turkey, nor were you specially selected by the exiled wife of a late president to receive $10 million in exchange for the use of your bank account number. Don't be disappointed. If an offer sounds too good or too goofy to be true, it probably is.

Inappropriate content

There are a lot of spam offers of sexual aids or solicitations that you can see through but that your kids just shouldn't see at all.

For Young and Old

Speaking of kids, be sure to explain spam to them. They're so comfortable with PCs that they fearlessly click on everything, including things they shouldn't. Make sure they don't open email from people they don't know. Warn them not to open attachments blindly because they may release spyware, viruses, or inappropriate content. Ask them to show you any email that they aren't sure of before they open it. If you think your children will be harmed by content that might appear in spam, you should consider if they are old enough or mature enough for their own email accounts. For younger children, make sure to set the spam folder settings in their email and review their incoming email subject lines when they log in.

The Spam List

Keep your email address off of spam lists by keeping it low profile. When you post your email address in an online forum or provide it to others in a message, try to hide it so automated tools used by spammers will be tricked. For example, instead of using, type "marian at Norton dot com" or "marian at n0rt0n d0t c0m." Create an email address you use just for online shopping and another email address for correspondence. With free Web email it's easy to create multiple accounts so you can limit the spam that appears in your primary account.

What to Do

So far, there is no such thing as a "do not email" list. Until there is, you'll have to take care of spam yourself. Fortunately there are good tools to help you do that. Most email programs include spam filters that detect and isolate spam. Many Internet service providers filter out spam so it never reaches your PC. But to get thorough protection against spam, you'll need to install security software such as Norton Internet Security to screen, detect, and block spam, and to eliminate viruses and spyware that may already reside on your PC.

Should spam slip through these filters, take the simplest approach to suspicious emails and just hit delete.

Our best protection. One low price

Norton Security Premium helps protect up to 10 of your Windows PCs, Macs, Android smartphones or your iPads.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Norton LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

Norton by Symantec is now Norton LifeLock. LifeLock™ identity theft protection is not available in all countries.

Copyright © 2019 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec logo, the Checkmark logo, Norton, Norton by Symantec, LifeLock and the LockMan logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Firefox is a trademark of Mozilla Foundation. Android, Google Chrome, Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google, LLC. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Microsoft and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Licence. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.