back search

hantsweb

LearnIT

Spam Spam

What is it?

Spam

Anyone with an email account is increasingly likely, from time to time, to be sent unsolicited/junk email, commonly known as 'spam'.

It is Hampshire County Council's policy to take all reasonable steps to prevent the receipt of such mail by the users of its IT services but without hindering normal business.

There are lots of different types of spam (see types), but regardless of which type of email you may receive in your inbox, the action to take is always the same - do not open the spam, delete it from your inbox.

 

Types of spam

Spam types

Phishing

Phishing emails look like they've come from websites you trust, such as your bank or credit card company, and will ask you to provide personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information. Never respond to this type of email.

Advertising material

This type of spam is not really any different from junk mail delivered via the postal services. However, under an EU directive, anyone in the EU who wants to mail you advertising or marketing material on a regular basis must have your permission to do so.

Hoax virus warnings

These emails pretend to come from an authoritative source (eg. AOL, Microsoft, IBM) and warn about new viruses, encouraging you to forward the email to your friends and colleagues. Never forward this type of email. If you are unsure about it speak to your departmental IT support contact. Virus warnings believed to be genuine should be forwarded to IT Services Help Desk.

Pornographic and obscene

Pornographic and obscene text and images can be extremely upsetting and worrying. If you are particularly upset, talk to someone about your experience - you may want to speak with your line manager or contact the Employee Support Line.

Emails promising money (known as 'advance fee fraud')

There are a number of variations but typically, you will be promised a large sum of money if you help with transferring sums of money to the UK. Do not be tempted - responding to this type of email has cost many people thousands of pounds. Find out more on the Hampshire Constabulary website under Advice and Information.

Investment related fraud

Investment related fraud e-mail are on the increase, although there are no reports of any staff having been targeted as yet. Follow the advice provided above for 'advance fee fraud'. Get rich quick schemes rarely, if ever, deliver what they promise.

Chain Letters

Emails which encourage you to forward further emails to all of your friends and colleagues are simply 'electronic chain letters'. Examples include referring to the plight of a terminally ill child, promising donations for treatment from a named organisation for every forwarded email.

 

Spam filter

All incoming email is scanned by a filter (a piece of software called Mimecast) which decides if individual emails should be blocked, held in quarantine or delivered to your Outlook inbox.

Regrettably, some spam may still be received directly in your inbox, but for every item received in quarantine or your inbox, there are hundreds blocked by Mimecast.

Messages on hold (in quarantine)

If the filter thinks that an email may be spam, it sends a 'Messages on hold' email to the recipient.

An email with quarantined spam

Quarantine notifications are sent regularly (four times a day Monday-Friday and twice daily Saturday and Sunday).

If you do not deal with the emails, they will expire after 14 days (they are not repeated in further notifications). If you are out of the office for a period of time, you will need to open and deal with each quarantine notice in your inbox.

When you receive a quarantine email, you will see a list of all current quarantined emails, and for each email you have three options:

  • Always Allow - will release the email and allow all future emails from the sender through to your inbox

  • Allow Once - will only release the current email, future emails may be quarantined

  • Always Block - this will block the current email and any future emails from the sender.

Click on the appropriate option for each email listed. When you have dealt with each email, you can delete the "Message on hold.." email.

LightbulbTip: When you select one of these options, a Mimecast pop up window will appear confirming the action has been successful - this will happen for each message listed on the email, please close these windows down. A new feature will be rolled out shortly to help manage this.

 

Spam in your inbox

Spam email received in your inbox can be deleted without any harm being caused, but if you receive:

  • lots of spam email, especially from the same sender, you should forward it as an attachment in a new email to spamhelp@hants.gov.uk (this is a monitored email account and will help IT improve the spam filtering system)
    Tip: Make it easier to report a spam email - set up a quick step which will forward the email to the spam address with just one click (see below)

  • an email which asks you for personal details such as passwords or account information, this is referred to as a ‘·phishing’ email - never respond to this type of email, forward it as an attachment in a new email to ithelp@hants.gov.uk Help Desk will assess the risk and advise if any further action needs to be taken.

Set up a 'quick step' to report spam

  1. Go into Outlook Mail and make sure the Home tab is selected

  2. In the Quick Steps group click on Create New

  3. An Edit Quick Step window will open

  4. Type in a Name for your new Quick Step then click on the drop down arrow next to Choose an Action and select Forward message as an attachment (under Respond heading)

  5. A To... field will appear, copy and paste this spam email address - spamhelp-button@hants.gov.uk -  into this field

  6. Click on Add Action and then on the drop down arrow next to the Choose an Action field

  7. Scroll down and select Delete message, this is how your window should look

  8. Click on Finish

  9. Your new Quick Step will now appear in your Quick Step group

  10. To use the Quick Step, simply select a spam email in your Inbox, click on the Quick Step, a new email will open, click Send - the spam will be reported and deleted from your Inbox.

If you are receiving emails from sites that you subscribed to, but now do not want to receive emails from, return to the site and unsubscribe to prevent further emails being sent.

NB. Please do not send queries to the spamhelp email address - if you need help, contact Help Desk on 01962 847000.

 

Tips

Spam tips
  • Be very careful who you give your email address to.

  • Always tick the "no" check box when a company asks if it can share your email address.

  • Never reply to spam email - by doing so you are simply confirming that your address is genuine, the flood of spam emails you receive is certain to increase as a result.

  • Do not believe messages which claim not to be spam because you can unsubscribe from them by clicking on an 'unsubscribe' link - if you have not specifically requested a marketing message, it is spam - period.

  • And likewise, do not click the link to 'Unsubscribe' to mailings you never asked for in the first place - again, all this does is confirm to the spammers that your address is genuine.

  • Avoid using your email address on Web sites that offer 'free' services such as 'free' greeting cards or a joke a day - these companies often sell your address information to email mass-marketers.

  • Similarly, avoid giving out the email addresses of friends and colleagues to such companies and ask your friends and workmates not to do this with your email address.

  • If you are receiving emails from sites that you subscribed to, but now do not want to receive emails from, return to the site and unsubscribe to prevent further emails being sent.

 

FAQs

Question How will I know if an email sent to me has been classed as spam?

Answer All corporate users will receive email quarantine notices in their inbox which will ask them to decide what they want to do with the email - release it or block it.

Question Does Mimecast scan internal emails?

Answer No, Mimecast only scans emails sent from outside of the corporate email service (eg internet mail).

Question How long do emails get quarantined for?

Answer All quarantined emails will be held for 14 calendar days. During this time, you must decide whether to release or block them. After 14 days the system will automatically delete them.

Question If quarantined emails get deleted, can you get them back for me?

Answer No, they are permanently removed from the system.

Question What happens if someone is on leave/sick etc for longer than 14 days?

Answer Any potential spam will still be deleted after 14 days.

Question Why should I delete emails from the quarantine?

Answer This will help the system learn what is spam and so improve its accuracy. If you let the emails expire from the quarantine, the system will not learn from them.

Question Does this mean that you are reading all my emails?

Answer No the system automatically scans the emails for content, no-one reads individual emails.

Question Why do I still receive Spam - shouldn't Mimecast prevent it from reaching me?

Answer Mimecast removes about 90% of unwanted mail which no one sees. About 5% is then quarantined and 5% sadly does slip though. It is an ongoing battle to try to prevent SPAM from getting through because SPAM is on the increase and the people that send it are constantly trying to find ways to get around the system. The way the SPAM filter works, is that it checks the email for its content and then gives the email a score. Based on the score it is given, it determines if the email should be blocked or not. Some of the ways the ‘Spammers’ are getting around this, is by, constantly changing the send from address that they are using, splitting up the words that they know will get checked e.g. V.I.A.G.R.A., or even copying the text into a picture so that it is not read as text.

Also, because SPAM is dealt with corporately, if an email is picked up by Mimecast and you delete the email, the score for that email will be increased. If other people in HCC get the same email and release it, it will counteract what you have done and reduce the score.

Question Why haven't I received a reply to the email I sent to the spamhelp email address?

Answer The spamhelp email account is a completely automated system, so you will not receive a response to any emails sent to it. If you have a query, you should direct it to the Help Desk (01962 847000).

Question How does Mimecast work out what is potential spam?

Answer Mimecast uses a variety of rules, such as checking against senders email addresses, specific content, (words, URL’s etc.), senders domain address, if the sender address has been spoofed, if the email has been sent to multiple recipients. It is continually updating what it rates against, and IT are able to add specific rules if it is found that specific items of unwanted spam are still getting through.

Question Will our emails be checked for viruses?

Answer Yes. All email goes through an Anti Virus check. Any infected attachments will be stripped out. Any non-infected attachments will not be scanned by the Mimecast spam filters though, only message body text and email title.

Question How many quarantine notices should I receive per day?

Answer Quarantine notifications are sent regularly (four times a day Monday-Friday and twice daily Saturday and Sunday).

Question If I release an email that has been quarantined, how long before it appears in my inbox?

Answer It should arrive in your inbox soon after you release it, but please allow at least 30 minutes for this to happen.

Question What do I do if I receive an email which contains “inappropriate” language/content?

Answer If it is really offensive, contact the Help Desk to have a call raised. This will be filtered ASAP.

Question Can I create a bookmark/favourite in my web browser for my quarantine list?

Answer No. The link in the Quarantine Notification email expires after 14 days so it is not practicable to do this.

Question Why can't I use the Junk email facility in Outlook?

Answer We cannot use this facility in Outlook because of the way that Outlook is set up for us corporately. Because of this, a corporate decision was been made to only use Mimecast and the Outlook facility has been disabled.

Question I don’t work at a school but have an HCC POP3/mail account -will I be included on the system?

Answer Yes and you will also receive quarantine notices.

Children's Services FAQs

Question I work at a school and have an Office 365 account - will I get spam notifications?

Answer Yes all corporate users will receive email quarantine notifications, this includes school Office 365 users.

Question I work in a school and have an HCC POP3/mail e-mail account - will I be included in this system?

Answer Yes all POP3/mail users are put onto Mimecast. Please note you will not receive quarantine notices. This is because the system has no way of knowing whether an email  address is for an adult or a child, and is to prevent children from releasing unsuitable emails. The system will automatically delete them after the required period.

Question We have our own mail server - will I receive quarantine notices?

Answer No. Your emails will still be filtered for spam but you won’t receive notifications.

Question Can I report SPAM from an Office 365 or @Mail service?

Answer It is currently not possible to report or send any spam received within Office 365 or @Mail. If you receive SPAM, simply delete it.

 
 

In this section…