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how to identify spam emails

Written By Patrick .A  (Tech IOSH)


In today’s world of fast paced electronic mail, everyone with an email address will have at some point received a spam email. Some email addresses that have been around a long time, have been given out to multiple different organisations and/or have potentially been sold on dozens of times, can receive hundreds of spam emails in a week. Whilst most web hosts will have precautions in place to filter out many of these emails, as technology advances, so do the spammers and it is now becoming harder to spot these emails. If you have been a victim of spam (unsolicited commercial email), or are worried about becoming a victim, below I talk about how you can spot a spam email, steps you can take to protect your email address and what action you can take against those sending the email.

The first step in correctly identifying spam emails, is to ask yourself ‘was I expecting this email’. If the answer is no, then you need to take a closer look. Do you recognise the sender? Even if you recognise the company name, always check the ‘Sent From’ field. Spam email addresses will often start with what looks like an official company name, but will then be followed by a series of random letters and numbers.

Spam emails often come with a lot of spelling or grammatical errors or can be worded in a way that just doesn’t seem as if it would come from a legitimate company. If in doubt, never click any links (even to unsubscribe) and mark the email as Spam. Marking an email as spam helps the email provider to identify the sender and ensure that future emails from that sender go straight into your spam folder.



The following sections explain different indications that a spam email is coming from a web host and how they are often misleading.

The sender of the Spam email has an email address ending in (Example): or, often sent using a spoofed email address. We do not send spam, do not maintain a list of its users for spammers, and do not sell such lists to third parties. The addresses in the “To” and “From” fields are easily faked, and do not mean that we created or sent the spam. To find the real sender, you need to look at all of the email’s headers and you can report suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre by forwarding them to

Spam sent via a server, could have been sent using a free forwarding service. Email from that domain could therefore be redirected and then relayed to the address specified by the domain’s owner. Such a practice would hinder the smooth operation of the technical and general services of any organisation and eventually this action would only lead to more complaints, and would be grounds for the suspension or termination of the domain name in question.


Host companies are the accredited registrar for every extension. Web hosts register domain names on behalf of its users. The use of a domain name purchased, is decided by the owner of the domain. If reported, most host companies can take direct action against the domain owner or domain name.



Spam is a difficult problem to manage, but there are a few actions you might be able to take against a spammer.

You can file a complaint with the web host used by the spammer. If you are having difficulties in identifying the web host of the spammer, this information can be found on WHOIS website. You can report the spam to the web host, In the hope that they may send a warning to the domain owner or at best deactivate their email account or website. Please feel free to contact WHOIS directly and they may be able to assist you.


Email Protection: With regards to private domain extensions, contact information can be found in the WHOIS database. This applies to all email addresses. A good way to protect your private email address would be to request that they enable anti-spam protection. Anti-Spam protection is usually free, harmless and can be reversed: This action, using an encryption system would drastically reduce the amount of Spam emails you receive moving forward.


Taking Action: You can also report the Spam email address or website to the National Cyber Security Centre via this email The NCSC do have authority and are trained to handle such situations. This is in relation to assistance in the UK.



As with any ICANN-accredited registrar, web hosts must assure that the information present on WHOIS is valid. Invalid information should quickly be reported to WHOIS. If the information provided to WHOIS regarding the Spam domain name is incorrect, WHOIS will now legally have the power to request up to date information, and this would have to be provided within a period of 14-21 days, if not provided; The Spam domain could be put on hold or permanently deleted.



Some of the most common scams reported to Action Fraud, involve fraudsters connecting remotely to the victim’s computer. Never allow remote access to your computer following an unsolicited call, text message or browser pop-up. Only install software or grant remote access to your computer if you are asked by someone you know and trust.

You can report these types of scams to Action Fraud UK.


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do i REALLY need a vpn?

Written By Patrick .A (Tech IOSH)


Staying safe online and protecting yourself is important in today’s world, so a VPN is sometimes required to secure that critical connection. Using a VPN adds an extra layer of security for online activities, by re-routing the connection through an encryption process, thus building a wall between you and anyone watching you. Having this extra level of protection also helps when you are at a café, or using someone else’s Wi-Fi network while working on your laptop.


The reason a lot of people use a VPN is mainly to shield their activity from the ISP (Internet Service Provider). It is to stop the ISP company; for example: BT, SKY, PLUSNET etc, from being able to monitor and/or trace your activity on the internet. However, a VPN doesn’t stop every possible attempt… you may still need to use a web browser with a tracker blocker built in, Firefox or any others you find during your search but make sure it carries an EFF Privacy Badger. Most web browsers already come with a level of encryption as standard but a VPN is like the icing on the cake.

WBVR would strongly recommend using an antivirus software on your devices, enabling multiple layers of protection/authentication where possible. With regards to passwords, we would recommend writing them down on paper, with a pen as the safest option, as opposed to saving them on your computer or phone.

It is generally impossible to tell which networks are safe, especially without SSID (Service Set Identifier). These extremely intelligent scammers could set up an access point using a fake name, (like Mr Bigggs) in the hope that you are tricked into using their connection to access the internet. If you are unlucky enough to gain access to the internet using this unsecure connection, then they could execute an attack, which could leave you open to more attacks from other members of the hacking community. They can not only monitor your activity but they could also intercept some of it in real time.



These guys are special, and I do mean special. They could sit and guess their way through the process but if they are unable to achieve success, they can then switch to a process called Devils Access- whereby they can change the SSID of the network to match the SSID of your device - Access Granted! A dodgy access has the ability to switch SSID as many times as is required to track as many devices as possible. For example; - At a Conference in Berlin, the designated security vendor at the conference detected that the SSID had changed 1,047 times, in order to be able to track 36,000 devices that were local and trick them into connecting. When you read about these stories, the importance of having a VPN doesn’t feel so alien anymore, it somehow begins to feel like a necessity. This is because a VPN would shield you from every single person on that network, including the network manager… like being in a bubble.



For the most part, our home networks are safe, the only issue is that: In certain countries ISP companies are allowed to sell your data to anyone or any organisation that might be interested, all of your information relating to your online activity can be sold, just like that.

Streaming Videos: Having a VPN could make video steaming take longer, it could negatively affect your download/Upload speed or even affect you having access to this material in the first instance. It could also interrupt services that rely on Wi-Fi connection like Google Chromecast.

The truth of the matter is that, having a VPN cannot and will not guarantee 100% safety online especially from a Grade A hacker; If an organisation with the funds in place and of heightened interest, wishes to know about you, they could correlate your online activity by hiring the services of a Grade A hacker to present a clear picture.

I sincerely hope, that with this piece of information, people would be in a position to decide as to weather or not they require a VPN.

I stand with good always...

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Written By Patrick .A (Tech IOSH)


Being self-employed or a Freelancer and being able to enjoy the flexibility of working from home can sometimes fill one with joy, but this does take its toll on the body and the mind in the long run. Accomplishing 8 straight hours on the computer and/or telephone, largely uninterrupted by emails and staff meetings from the comfort of your own home, may seem like a dream to some. On the other hand, it might also feel like you could just do that little bit more before you call it a day, because your office is always there.

I surely do feel like I could do a bit more for the client. Sometimes I do that bit more because it is a new client and I am trying to impress them, in order to ensure repeat custom. Alternatively, it could be an existing client and I want to deliver a day earlier than expected. I usually find myself delivering early, just so that I have nothing immediate left to do, and can therefore enjoy some breathing space before starting the next project. For these very reasons, I just cant stop working myself into the ground.

A recent survey showed that 90% of people who work remotely find themselves in a situation whereby they find it really hard to switch off and leave work behind after the 8 hour working day. Some of the people that took part in the survey admitted that, they are working more hours not less and that they sometimes login at night or even on the weekend. In turn, this has a negative effect on their time management, as they are unable to focus fully on other things that may need their attention in their personal life.

Many Freelancers also think that they can work less hours weekly i.e., they can work a four-day week and have 3 days off at the beach in Cornwall. However, they soon realise that they work more hours and it really is harder to switch off. Compared to working for someone else, where, in most cases you can completely log off at the end of the week and forget about work until the following week. Anything that happens out of working hours is someone else's problem to deal with and therefore there is no need to stress or remain switched on.


The fact that you save on costs such as fuel, lunches, office wear and time spent commuting, may tempt some people into thinking that working from home is a winner, but is it really? You still have to cover the high energy bills it produces, subscriptions that you require, hardware and software i.e., laptops, printers, web hosting, dedicated phonelines and phone contracts, VPN services, if required and internet security, along with any other general business service costs. Setting up a home office may also incur costs, such as a comfortable workstation and not all of these expenses can be a tax write-off (only work-related purchases as per tax laws in the UK).

It’s clear that remote working offers some fantastic benefits, but it also has obvious downsides.

If you are considering a completely remote setup for your business, you may wish to take some time to consider the pro's and cons and whether any of those cons can be overcome by establishing some best practices as a guideline to manage remote working.

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