Legitimate UK businesses spam customers, share email with third-party sites

Spam can affect all email users by making it difficult and annoying to complete the daily task of checking their inboxes. Many users may wonder why they receive so many emails or how email spammers even obtain their email address in the first place.

A recent study found out why. Spam Ratings, an internet security research firm, investigated the email trends among businesses in the UK by signing up for email alerts from 10,000 different organizations and recording the nature of the 150,000 messages it received.

As 75 percent of the emails sent by UK businesses were unsolicited spam messages, 30 percent were sent by third-party websites the firm had not contacted as part of the study. The research indicates a growing spam email issue among legitimate businesses to share their registered users’ contact information with third-party websites.

“The amount of emails coming from third-party web sites was particularly worrying, and led to a deluge of malicious emails promoting scams or using phishing techniques to gather user data,” said Andy Yates, co-founder of Spam Ratings.

Experts advise users to invest in protective software and computer scans for malicious content from spam emails, as current legislation fails to strictly regulate the email spam trends.

“Firms aren’t doing anything illegal per se by doing this, but they are causing email issues for customers by not being fair and transparent about their email policies. We intend to talk with organizations like the Information Commissioner’s Office as well as firms to address this,” Yates added.

Even legitimate businesses are guilty of distributing mass amounts of spam emails. The study revealed email accounts linked to well-known corporations and even smaller businesses have been targeted by spam marketing campaigns. As spam emails can cause storage and security issues for email users, Yates believes the trend may actually be hurting some of these businesses by flooding their customers’ email inboxes with unsolicited emails.

“We found that big brands and small- and medium-sized businesses are guilty of sending out unwanted emails, and it’s important that firms understand the risks of doing so, as it is damaging to their brand to misuse customer emails like this,” he said.

Security experts advise users to use caution when distributing their email accounts throughout the web. While many websites may seem legitimate enough to receive email alerts from, users can never be sure that third-party websites may have access to this information. Many of these third-party websites use the contact information through other sites to create specific spam marketing campaigns targeted at a registered users’ particular interests.

Also, installing protective anti-malware software can safeguard PCs from the malicious content that gets spread through spam email campaigns. Rather than dealing with malware installed on PCs, in addition to the annoying influx of spam messages, users can at least protect their personal information from viruses and Trojans that are often linked to spam emails.

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