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Occasional Contributor
Occasional Contributor

Huge increase in Spam emails

Hi everyone

Just before COVID19, I had a massive increase in spam emails into my main email account. It is still continuing today. I am aware that there is nothing I can do if email address itself has been disseminated - but this is what Spam filters and email relay detection is for. 

We are talking an increase of tens of obviously spam emails a day from zero.

Other email addresses in the same account are fine - they filter their spam nicely.

I have emailed hidden several times, and marked every such email as spam (in Webmail), a tedious process given each email has to be marked so individually. I have even attached all the headers and email properties to my emails.

None of these things made any difference

Now, Optus has an automatic Spam filter that is not configurable by users. My guess is that somehow, it is no longer set on my (and maybe other) email accounts because even the dumbest spam filter would flag emails I am getting as Spam. Also, not much is appearing in Spam folder automatically. They are not from optusnet domains. 

My guess is that it is some problem with specific account, like Spam folder becoming full (or read only) or my email account disappearing from Spam email account database. But I cannot tell.

Getting decent technical support from Optus is almost impossible now with call centres in several countries only partially up. I will probably be told to change my email password which is technically a rather ridiculous idea (but I have done this as well to no avail).

So, my question is - anyone else seen this and does anyone know what is going on?

Regards

Red

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Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

I can't speak for the spam increase (as you say its completely beyond your control). What is in your control is to use a non ISP email account. As a separate issue, if you ever decide to leave Optus you will lose that email account immediately. ISPs generally provide basic email facilities so that customers end up trapped.

These days its very easy to migrate to a non ISP based email provider. Set up a free GMail account in minutes and import all emails and all new emails real time. GMail has much better spam filters as well as user controllable white and black lists. Automatically delete spam based on key words. Much better security (2FA), account recovery etc.

You can do all this without disturbing the Optus email account. Tell friends your new email address and update bank, utilities, etc. on the new address.
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Occasional Contributor
Occasional Contributor

Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Hi Peter

I generally agree with the fact that it is silly to have an ISP email account. And yes I have to bite the bullet and gradually migrate. But I disagree with you that it is easy to change.

I have been with Optus for 20 years when it was actually a decent platform which was better than free email accounts of the time. So it is part historic and part being a bit lazy.

Unfortunately email account these days is also used as a user account in most online portals from Netflix to airlines to ticketing to online shopping, utilities, councils and insurance companies. Changing account names is doable,  (and I have a list of 40+ entities where this has to be done) but generally requires at least some form of contact and ID check with these organisations since you are changing the very thing that identifies you as an account holder. Unless you just want to blast your old account and start again. Not always possible.

Changing is especially difficult now when it is hard to get anyone on the phone for obvious reasons.

(As a side note, I know - this is crazy - plenty of people that use the same password in these types of accounts as the password in their email account - applies both to ISP and non-ISP accounts). All it takes for some database to be cracked and your email is cracked as well.

The second problem that I have yet to solve is that if you have a very neatly organised history and folders for all emails sent/received since the beginning of time :), migrating them to gmail manually is not an option. I will have to do it automatically and work out a way to do it.

So, this topic is interesting and worth discussing but we have truly diverged, I would still expect that Optus emails should have decent working spam filters, regardless of importance of such ISP email accounts to their users.

Regards

Red

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Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Starting with the last first, whatever your expectations Optus email is something of a black box. As you've noted sending spam reports goes where? and at the moment the few Optus staff available are not in anyway interested in blocking another spam.

I agree its a bit of a chore but its actually not as big as it seems. As a bonus it can be done separate from the OPtus account (which keeps working as is). Most sites allow you to update the email address fairly easily (so long as you still have the old email address to be able to verify). For example Netflix:

https://www.netflix.com/email

I'd also suggest that its an opportunity to go over your passwords and ensure that the main ones (Bank, PayPal, etc.) have a unique password from all the other day to day accounts.

I can't speak to the neatly organised folders (it may be possible to import folders to GMail tagged with that info) but I would suggest these days there is a better way of organising such info. GMail provides instant and deep searching (So if I want to know about emails from someone specific or anything I ever sent or received with the word "bread" in it, its immediately available). Just tag you imported emails with "Optus" as a secondary search parameter.

My generic advice is as below:

1) Set Up GMail Account. In Gmail:

2) In Gmail Settings set it to import all current emails from Optus

3) In Gmail Settings set it to import all new emails that go to the optus address (realtime)

Don't change the gmail reply address. The point is you want to get everyone using your new address. Any replys to the gmail address obviously go the the GMail account

4) Set the Optus emails to have a 'tag' (or colour code in GMail) makes it very easy to see whats still coming to OPtus.

5) Update important accounts with the GMail address (banks, utilities, security, subscriptions, etc.)

6) Email your contacts with the new address.

7) Roll through the last 6 months of Inbox and pick out any emails that you reckon need the email updated.

8. Think about any annual events that need the email address updated (Rates?)

9) Monitor what's coming to Optus and whats coming to Gmail (all via GMail) and you should see almost nothing to OPtus soonish.

10) You're free

While you're at it, set up 2 factor authentication in GMail (and a recovery alternate address) for much better email security.

---

Alternatively (and staying on topic) you've notified Optus and hopefully they'll sort your issue shortly 🤔




Importantly the process (of setting up a seperate email) doesn't affect your Optus account at all. You can set a GMail up tonight and have a play and switch back to Optus at any point if you feel its not working for you. General process is:



1) Set Up GMail Account.

2) In Gmail Settings set it to import all current emails from Optus

3) In Gmail Settings set it to import all new emails that go to the optus address (realtime)



Don't change the gmail reply address. The point is you want to get everyone using your new address. Any replys to the gmail address obviously go the the GMail account



4) Set the new Optus emails to have a 'tag' (or colour code in GMail) makes it very easy to see whats still coming to Optus.

5) Update important accounts you can remember with the GMail address (banks, utilities, security, subscriptions, etc.)

6) Email your contacts with the new address.

7) Roll through the last 6 months of Inbox and pick out any emails that you reckon need the email updated.

😎Think about any annual events that need the email address updated (Rates?)

9) Monitor what's coming to Optus and whats coming to Gmail (all via GMail using the tag you setup before) and you should see almost nothing to Optus soonish.

10) Stop using Optus Email



While you're at it, set up 2 factor authentication in GMail (and a recovery alternate address) for much better email security. You can also link two Gmail addresses to swap between so you and your wife could each have their own if you wanted.



Note GMail also has very effective tabs (for example all sales related stuff ends up under "Promotions" and can be ignored as wanted. When you first start though there will be a few misfilings so check each tab. Any issues just drag and drop the email to the correct tab and select "Always do this for this email". Sorts things out very quickly.

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Occasional Contributor
Occasional Contributor

Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Some great practical advise there Peter

I am going to migrate at some point gradually as you suggest...

I find it interesting that we just assume these days that google will always be there providing these services for free..
Maybe will last at least another 20 years 🙂
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Occasional Contributor
Occasional Contributor

Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Such an interesting discussion.

It is so unfashionable to have ISP emails - surely having gmail and outlook has its dangers as well?

(Not taking anything away from great practical steps you have described)

The choice is between an email provided by an ISP, based locally, which is contractually obliged to provide email hosting service, a number of email accounts, and degree of customer support (after all you pay them), or a global giant such as Google or Microsoft that provides this service for free with no guarantees whatsoever.

Smallish company such as Optus has a limited capability to do things like decent spam filter or in fact, any large scale tech proper development at all.

A global giant such as Google who gives away free email accounts, lots of storage and wonderful tools such as gmail web management service for free. 1 billion free accounts and counting.

Surely we do not think the music will ever stop? May be in a not so distant future it will.

Two obvious reasons

1) a possible drive to monetise their technology. Remember, this is a commercial venture that expects to grow by a healthy margin each year. When growth saturates, they will be looking at monetising things. Which may take shape of offering paid service with nice features and limiting free service.

2) there could be geopolitical reasons why gmail accounts will not be available to all countries.

If you think I am paranoid, many US tech companies do not allow Chrome to be used on company computers. Not because it is a bad browser, but for security and IP reasons.

I always thought large ISPs were a better option unless they become truly bad. Which Optus is starting to head towards.

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Occasional Contributor
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Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

I guess it is a bit harsh from me to criticise Optus for just spam filters - but there were other problems creeping in well before the distress caused by virus. But they are separate subjects.
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Honoured Contributor
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Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Good luck with the migration. Note that one good thing is you can have a play around with it right now without disturbing anything in the Optus account. See what you can bring across and how the GMail GUI works for you. Note that I would expect that the GMail spam filters etc. won't work for email you directly forward from/via Optus email but I don't know)

Yes, the idea that Google or GMail  might not be here in 20 years is hard to imagine but a realistic prospect. 

GMail is in itself a business built around email and has huge resources devoted to improving just that one thing. For Optus its an small afterthought of its business model (and while once a total necessity for customers its now not needed at all). GMail are also using the huge amounts of user data to do things like better spam filtering etc.

I'd suggest GMail is already monetised. It has considerable ad revenue (both directly in the browser and also to compliment your online browsing where ads are tailored to your email contents (I turn that stuff off though). But also after years of free use I am now paying $2 a month for 10x the data to share between the family (One).

The geopolitical potential to disrupt Google was on stark display last year. I agree it will be interesting to see how that develops. 

But for now I think we're pretty safe. Google won't disappear overnight and what ever new technologies get developed either Google will evolve GMail (or a complementary product) to match it or I will be suggesting to people in 20 years they should be migrating to the better new product again.

 

NB I agree the Optus eMail service isn't bad, its just that some user options (like spam reporting) don't seem to work.

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Trusted Contributor
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Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

Optus email used to be fine many years ago but not so much these days.

The two main problems I have are:

1) Email delivery times is a complete gamble.  Rather then the expected sub minute send/receive (or sub 10 minute when email servers are under load) you should expect from any email provider, they can sometimes take hours or even days to deliver, and that seems to happen far too often these days.

2) POP3 access is either a coin toss or intermittent when not on the Optus network.

As for spam, I'm lucky to get a handful emails a year with multiple email addresses, but that it more a function of how little I use those email addresses, the fact that I've never posted them publicly ,  and the fact they are not easily guessable/random generateable.

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Occasional Contributor
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Re: Huge increase in Spam emails

I have 6 emails accounts (family members and so on) and only one gets all the spam - which makes me think it is something specific to that email account. There is hardly anything in Spam folder

Had no problems for 19+ years - but no matter how hard you try guarding the actual email name it is hard...

For example, I recently received an email copied to every customer of a tutoring college (which ironically offers an ICT course)

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