While it’s true that we live in the Digital Age where communicating with anyone is a mere tap of a finger away—whether it’s via email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc.—the chances that Ms. Jolie would randomly reach out to a regular Joe, such as myself, is still pretty darn improbable. So, the following questions raced through my mind:
- What in Brad’s name would compel Angelina to friend me?
- Did my mom put me up for adoption? (Can she even do that at my age?!?)
- Why did the invite end up in my spam folder?
This last question is especially relevant for my role here at Yahoo! Mail, where I am part of the anti-spam team. Our mission is to ensure that wanted messages get to the inbox and insidious ones remain out of sight.
After suspending my disbelief for a second, I realized that the invite was a well-crafted forgery. It even spoofed Facebook’s mailing domain, facebookmail.com, to make it seem authentic (email was sent from an IP address in Poland). My trained eye saw through the deception, even though my strained ego wanted to believe it.
Spammers send such spoofed messages by the millions every day, and try to lure recipients into clicking nefarious links in the message by dangling compelling, socially-engineered bait. Perhaps the link leads to a phishing page designed to steal log-in credentials, or a site that sells prescription drugs for cheap. Worse, it may point to a file that silently installs malicious software that logs every key stroke and silently sends it off to some evil mastermind.
The point is, any link found in spam leads to no good. That’s why I didn’t click on any links in that invite; I just deleted the email. You should do the same when you receive a suspicious or unsolicited message—especially if you find it in your spam folder.
In an upcoming sequel to this post, I’ll provide more details on how our anti-spam team is leveraging anti-forgery technologies, such as DKIM and SPF, to step up the fight against such spoofed and phishing emails.
On Cyber Monday, my inbox took me on a walk down memory lane. PETCO sent me a great deal on cat food even though my cat Buck died 4 years ago. Rick Steves sent me some European Backroads holiday travel tips even though I’d be crazy to take my 5-year-old twins on a trek through France.
Meanwhile, all of my important emails were buried under a pile of old mailing lists that I never got around to unsubscribing. I wanted to get off those lists, but I didn’t have the time to open each email, find the links, and make sure that I wasn’t accidentally handing my email address to spammers.
With Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Mail Application developer OtherInbox (OIB), there is now an easy way to tackle this problem. Using OIB’s Automatic Organizer application (which you can find in the lower left hand corner of your Yahoo! Mail), you can now easily and safely unsubscribe from those unwanted (although once desirable) mailing lists. Here’s how:
1) Click on Automatic Organizer application and follow the sign up prompts
Automatic Organizer helps clear your inbox by putting the commercial email and social networking messages you actually DO want into appropriately labeled folders like OIB shopping, finance, and news. Now those messages are organized in category-specific folders, rather than scattered throughout your inbox.
2) Create another folder called “OIB Unsubscribe”
When you drag any emails (like from PETCO) into that folder, you will be unsubscribed from that list.
That’s it! Automatic Organizer takes it from there. Behind the scenes, OIB will safely unsubscribe you from that list by working with global email compliance company Lashback. Until you get off the list, all emails from PETCO will go directly into that folder.
With this application and others that are available in Yahoo! Mail, we’re working with the developer community to make your Yahoo! Mail experience the best it can be. Give it a try, and tell us about your experience.