Computing Services

Spam: What to do about it?

Definition: “Spam” is a term used to describe an email message of any content (but often commercial in nature) that was sent indiscriminately to large numbers of recipients on the Internet. To qualify as spam, a message must be unsolicited.

It is important to note that many annoying or unwanted messages do not qualify as spam. In the fine print of many online purchases or newsletter subscriptions, you have probably given a company permission to email you in the future and to sell your email address to other companies. This is legal and would not be considered spam because while their audience may not be appreciative, it was not indiscriminate.

What to do about spam?

When you receive a message sent to your @lps.org account that you believe to be spam, you have four options:

  1. Delete it
  2. Move it to your personal spam folder
  3. Move it to the LPS “Stop Spam” folder
  4. Ask for advice from LPS Computing Services

 

1. Delete it

Most filtering of unsolicited automated mail is handled by the LPS spam filter before these mail messages reach your Inbox. But if a truly random or indiscriminately addressed email message does reach you, there is likely little harm in deleting the message. A quick stroke of the delete key and your problem has gone away.

 

2. Personal Spam Folders in Zimbra

Few realize that Zimbra offers each of us our own personal spam filter.

If you find a message in your Inbox that is spam (or simply unwanted) you can mark it as such and move the mail to your personal Junk folder in a few ways:

  • Highlight the message and click the Spam icon on the toolbar.
  • Right-click on the message and select “Mark as Spam” from the pop-up menu
  • Drag the message from your Inbox to the Junk folder in the left column.

Over time, Zimbra learns your preferences for what you consider spam and begins to preemptively file messages from certain senders into your Junk folder. This is a useful feature but always remember that it is possible that a message could be put in the junk folder that is not really spam. You should check your Junk folder periodically to ensure that you are not missing any messages. Move messages that should not be marked as spam from your Junk folder to your Inbox or another appropriate location.

The contents of the folder are automatically purged after a certain number of days, otherwise you can empty the Junk folder by right-clicking (control-click) the folder and choosing Empty Junk.

PRO TIP: If you like the idea of Zimbra handling messages automatically for you, you may also be interested in setting up your own Inbox Filters.

Is this message a scam?

If any of the following tell-tale signs of an email scam are present DO NOT respond to the email or follow the instructions in the message in any way:

  • You have never done business with this company
  • You are being told that there is a problem with your account and you must click a link to address the problem.
  • The sender’s email address does not match the company legitimate address (@company.com)
  • The message contains an impersonal greeting (Dear account holder, Dear web mail user, etc.)
  • The message looks distinctly unprofessional (spelling mistakes, all capital letters, etc.)
  • The message has a frightening or aggressive tone
  • The message asks you to share your passwords, bank account info, or any other personal information via an email reply or link contained in the message
  • The message claims you have won something you did not sign up to win

Should I just click “UNSUBSCRIBE?”

Most email lists, advertisements and newsletters will offer a safe “unsubscribe” option in the footer of the message. If this is a legitimate message that you previously signed up for or you understand how you may have been signed up, feel free to click that unsubscribe link to stop receiving messages from that sender.

 

For more information about spotting email scams try one of these resources:

 

3. LPS Stop Spam Folder

LPS maintains a shared folder into which you may deposit messages that you believe to be “spammy” in nature. Doing so would allow LPS to preemptively block the senders of the spam from our servers, to the benefit of all LPS employees.  First, you must subscribe to the district’s STOP SPAM folder in your email account (Zimbra).

Click to Enlarge

To subscribe to the shared “Stop Spam” folder:

  1. Login to Zimbra and click on the Preferences tab along the top of the window.
  2. Click “Sharing” on the left side of the preferences window.
  3. Search for folders shared by user “Spam”.
  4. Click “Accept” to the right of the share listed.
  5. In the Accept window feel free to rename and choose a color for the folder as desired.

You will now have the shared LPS Spam folder in your list of folders on the left side of the window in your Zimbra email. From now on, simply drag & drop messages in there that you believe should be blocked from all LPS users.

NOTE: Dropping messages in this folder does not automatically do anything. Computing Services uses this folder to gather all questionable messages and a human being adds them to the spam filter as appropriate.  Some messages dropped into the SPAM folder are legitimate messages and will not be added to the district SPAM folder.

 

4. Contact LPS for Advice

If you receive a message that you are unsure or uncomfortable with, please contact LPS Computing Services for advice. We know what official messages have been delivered recently and have a pretty good eye for spotting scams, frauds, phishing attacks or other unsavory messages that may be out there.

You may request advice by forwarding any suspicious message directly to Rob Smith in LPS Computing Services at rsmith@lps.org.

 

To report potential e-scams, you can visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and file a report. The IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).