Identifying Spam

Identifying Spam
Q:  What is SPAM?
A:  Any email you receive that you didn't ask for, and don't want.  (Also, a tasty combination of spiced ham and pork shoulder in a can.)
Q:  What is "phishing"?
A:  "Fishing" for information.  This is a certain type of spam that tries to trick you into revealing private information.
SPAM is a multi-billion-dollar business.  Unsolicited email is bad enough, but tricky email is the worst.  So, how do you identify it?
Let's look at a common piece of SPAM/phishing email.  Things of concern are circled in this picture.
Many more examples are located at this link: , if you have a few days on your hands!
Common SPAM/PHISHING emails:
- Someone emails to inform you that you've won a prize.
- Someone emails to ask for your help with a stranded friend.  It can even be someone you know!
- Someone emails to ask for your help getting money to someone else, and offers you a cut of the cash if you'll help
- An internet store (Apple Store, Newegg, etc.) gives you a receipt for an item you don't remember purchasing.
- A "network administrator" says you need to do something to update or protect your user account, email, password or something similar.
In all of the above cases, the spammer hopes that you'll be concerned enough to click a link in the email.  Clicking the link will either infect your computer with a virus, or take you to a page requesting more information, especially passwords or credit card numbers.
As soon as you click the link or provide email information, a program infects your email... and then usually waits until the middle of the night.  At night (when your REAL network administrator is asleep!), the spammer then uses your email account to send out his spam/phishing emails to thousands of other people.  Your email gets changed to send a copy of everything you receive to the spammer.  Thousands of people you may or may not know (stolen info from your address book) are sent more spam and phishing emails FROM YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT!  Your computer doesn't even have to be turned on since the spammers can use "web mail" to get to your account.  Since your address is now spamming the world, NKSD automatically gets put on email block lists.  Our servers fill up with records of all of the emails until the servers run out of space, crashing them.  By the time morning rolls around, the spammer has accomplished what he/she set out to do:  use you, use our email system, and move on to the next person who clicked the link.  The spammer never gets shut down because he's having others (you!) do his work.
Note many of the things in the example above.  When you look at an email and are trying to decide if it's spam, ask yourself if it clearly identifies North Kitsap School District?  Since spam goes out of thousands/millions of people, the messages are usually pretty generic and could appear plausible at many different locations.  Double-click the sender's name to see the email address.  Is it from somewhere you recognize?  Is a message from your "network administrator" from someone with an "" email address?  (It better be!.. not just a generic email from "helpdesk").  Hover your mouse over the links in the message and see if they show you where they go.  (Don't click!)  Those official-looking emails from major online stores are often phishing attempts.  They even use the graphics from the real stores.
Chances are, you didn't purchase any items in your sleep.  Chances are that a Nigerian prince really doesn't want to send you a million dollars.  Chances are you didn't win a lottery/contest that you don't remember entering.  Even if you did, they wouldn't use email to inform you.
As always, if in doubt, contact your school tech or a district tech for help.  If you think something is spam/phishing, just delete it.  Unfortunately, since most of this email comes from legitimate people (who's email got compromised), we can't block it.
Enjoy our new digital age, and remember to practice "safe emailing".