Every year, employees receive dozens of emails at work that have nothing to do with work. Sometimes, these emails are between employees, but when unsolicited, such emails are usually spam.
Spam are emails that are sent to hundreds of users, usually with malicious intent. There are many ways spam is used by notorious entities. They could be trying to steal your personal information, get data in your finances, and more. Sometimes, spam emails also come with malware. If an employee unwittingly clicks on a spam email with malware attached, they could risk releasing a potentially harmful virus into the computer system. For large and small businesses alike, this could result in huge expenditure on fixing the problem.
What is spam and why do your employees get it?
Getting spam email is simply a part of using the internet. Usually, there is no harm as long as the employee does not click on the spam email or follow any directions written on it. However, if they do get fooled by spam, the result could affect not just them, but the whole company.
Spam has been around since the early years of the internet. Sometimes it’s an advertisement that leads to a dangerous website, and at other times, dangerous viruses are sent as attachments with the mails.
If you’re wondering more about what is unsolicited email that plagues employees at all levels and clogs email systems, then look no further than spam.
However, over time, the entities that create spam emails, have become better at their job. Nowadays, spoofing goes hand in hand with spam emails. Spoofing happens when a spam email is designed to look legitimate.
The deception could go far. Your employee could click on a link on a spam email, only to be taken to a website that looks legitimate. There, they could be asked to provide personal information such as log in credentials. If they don’t realize that the email is spam, this could put the company at risk.
That is why most businesses equip emoloyee emails with spam filters. These filters need to be updated on a consistent basis. The more creative the creators of spam emails become when it comes to deceiving people online, the more careful people have to be.
Why is spam dangerous?
Spam could open the floodgates to a series of problems and expenditures for a business. When a virus from a spam email gains access to a computer, it can run havoc on the system. Valuable data could be stolen, important information could be deleted, and work productivity gets affected.
When it comes to retaining stability at work, prevention is always the best policy. You can train your employees on what are unsolicited emails that plague employees at work and clog up email systems. Once they know that they need to be careful at work, they are more likely to be mindful about opening unsolicited mails.
What kinds of unsolicited emails are there?
Spam can be related to anything under the sun. From bank loans to surprising wins, spam emails are designed to draw in user attention.
This is detrimental to your employees as the time they need to spend focusing on work is diverted. Such diversions could create stress as well.
A team of three researchers conducted a study on employee behavior at work when it comes to checking their mails. Their research had surprising findings.
Karen Renaud, a computer scientist from Glasgow University, collaborated with Judith Ramsay, a psychologist from Paisley University. Statistician Mario Hare was also a part of the research. Together, they surveyed 177 peoole who check their mails at work.
They found that around 34% of respondents said they felt stressed when they were interrupted by mail at work. Another 28% saw the diversion as a personal challenge where they had to work harder. Only around 38% of all respondents said that they felt relaxed despite receiving email at work.
While not all the emails received in the survey are unsolicited in nature, it still begs the question – does spam distract employees at work?
There are three kinds of spam that an employee can receive:
- Regular spam: With these, it’s easy to tell that the email is spam. The sender may not be trying to hide that they are sending spam mail. Since these are easy to detect, they don’t pose as a great problem.
- Phishing: This happens when a spam email tries to look real, as a way to trick the recipient. Unlike typical spam emails, these appear to look formal and legitimate. This can confuse your employee. That is why your employee should never open unsolicited emails at work.
- Spoofing: This is phishing taken up a level. In spoofing, there may be additional collaterals that try to indicate that the source is legitimate. A website, social media channel etc. are examples of what the spam sender could fake to boost how ‘real’ the mail is.
If employees typically ignore such mails, then the risk of them inadvertently setting a dangerous virus loose within the company’s computer system is reduced. But an employee can receive hundreds of spam emails a year.
This means that your employees together could be receiving thousands of spam emails a year. The amount of time they spend on either filtering, deleting, or looking through the unsolicited emails takes away from the employee’s productivity. In 2004, the National Technology Readiness Survey showed that spam emails led to a loss in productivity in US companies. This loss was estimated to be around $21.6 billion.
Can such losses be prevented? How do you teach your employees what is unsolicited email that plagues employees at all levels and clogs email systems?
Employees and Unsolicited Mails: How Spam is a Disadvantage to Businesses
People check their mails a lot, especially at work. That is why many businesses prefer to use mail accounts that have increased security. This security restricts spam from entering employees’ email accounts.
Productivity and work go hand in hand. People go to work to be productive and engage with their lives in a meaningful way. However, if employees get easily distracted by spam email, the work falls behind.
Businesses also need to consider liability when it comes to unsolicited emails. If something goes wrong with the employee, how liable will the company be? An example of doing wrong is if an employee provides information about the business through the spam email.
If this happens, the resulting financial and productivity lost by the business could be heavy. In such situations, the business will be expected to:
- If any data was compromised, then the business will need to financially sponsor the return of that information.
- If any customer or employee data was provided to the sender of the spam email, then it will have to be retrieved. This requires financial expenditure as well.
- If there were any affected parties, they will need to be paid their compensations. Similarly, legal help and investigative bodies will also incur fees, if they are sought after.
- Any fines and penalties will have to be paid off.
The time and effort it would take to bring a company back to stable foundations after a successful spam attack necessitates prevention. In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware affected nearly 200,00 companies in US with malware. To prevent such situations from happening, employees should know what is unsolicited email that plagues employees at all levels and clogs email systems.
How do you deal with unsolicited emails at work?
Spam emails can be dangerous, especially if there is malware attached. Backdoor malware can take advantage of a naive employee to wreak havoc on the company’s computer systems.
But if you take cybersecurity seriously, then you can effectively combat unsolicited emails like spam. You should:
- Educate all your employees on what is unsolicited email that plagues employees at all levels and clogs email systems.
- Ensure that your employees are aware of the productive hours they will waste by paying attention to spam emails.
- Place a strict multi-factor authentication into your employees’ emails. This will require multiple steps to reach required data, and improves email security to a great extent.
- Have an accessible IT team in place. When it comes to spam and malware, your IT team will be mostly in charge of handling such scenarios. Your employees should be aware that the IT team is always there to help them in case of spam email. Your employees should know who to approach, and feel comfortable with approaching the IT team to deal with unsolicited emails at work.
Unsolicited emails will always reach your mailbox. But having extra security filters in place ensures that your employees won’t have to interact with spam mail at all. Unsolicited emails also tend to take up a lot of space within the emails allocated data space. This information, which is not useful to the company, can continue to exist on company servers. In this way, it takes up space. Teach your employees to deal with spam, and ensure that your business doesn’t have to deal with spyware, malware, or any danger from nefarious online entities.