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A good chunk of all emails sent are spam. Once businesses realized they could send millions upon millions of emails out to people to try to get new customers, it was inevitable. Email marketing took off and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
However, spamming people isn't the way to go. Sure, a well-planned email marketing campaign that follows the law is an amazing way to draw attention to your brand and increase customers or sales. Unfortunately though, there are still many people who don't stick to the rules, use bots and constantly spam. Worse, there are ways for them to send spam and make YOU look like the bad guy.
This article will help you understand spam and help you protect your server.
First of all, if someone reports you for spam, we'll assume that it wasn't on purpose and contact you to let you know about the report. You then have 24 hours to reply to the ticket that's opened to let us know how/what you're going to do to fix it.
Second of all, if the spamming continues, you run the risk of getting your server's IP blacklisted. When that happens, your emails probably won't ever be seen by most of intended recipients. For instance, if Google blacklists you, any emails you send to a Gmail address will fail to be delivered and simply be returned to you.
This is simply mass-mailing people for the sole purpose of advertising a product or service. In many cases, the spammer uses multiple servers not belonging to them for sending the spam mail. They attempt to get into your server and upload malicious content or files meant for phishing. If they're successful, then they send mass spam from other servers with a link to the content they put somewhere on your site. You might never know this is happening.
If you're reported for spam and you know you didn't do it, this is one of the first things you should check for. If you're on Linux, run Clamscan to check for malware, bad email, malicious scripts, etc. Customers using our shared hosting should try to run the cPanel scanner to check.
However, we highly recommend contacting us and letting us do a more thorough scan.
With mail spoofing, spammers make it look like emails they send out are coming directly from you. Banks, ecommerce sites and other financial-related sites are normally the target of mail spoofing. This is because they're trying to capture the recipients' logins, passwords, etc. to access their money and financial data.
One of the best ways to help prevent spammers from spoofing your domain is using SPF records for your DNS zone. It's not 100% effective, but it'll help. SPF will let you identify exactly which hosts have permission to send out mail on behalf of your domain. When mail is sent, the mail exchanger will check the DNS records to ensure the mail was actually sent from a host that you've allowed.
It's easy to do by logging into cPanel and going to Email > Authentication. You'll then see an option to enable SPF. We have a guide for enabling SPF here.
Spam email is just one more reason you should be doing everything possible to keep your site secure. If you're reselling hosting accounts, then emphasize security to your customers too.
The number of people participating in the spam actives won't dwindle anytime soon. Think about it… why would they pay for their own server to do these dirty deeds if they can break into and use yours for free? There are millions of sites out there that aren't secure that they can easily compromise and take advantage of. Make sure yours isn't one of them.
Please share this article if you've found it to be helpful.
Written by Hostwinds Team / June 2, 2017