Email Bomb: How to Hide from Attack?
Do you receive thousands of unnecessary emails to your email address every day? Most likely, you were exposed to an “email bomb attack,” a type of DDoS attack.
What is a DDoS attack and how does it work? Read the detailed description in our recent article.
An email spam bomb attack is one of the most difficult to decipher attacks. Automated bots are usually used for this purpose. They add hundreds of unnecessary subscriptions to the list of subscriptions for a particular user’s email. They include not only ads, but also promotions, newsletters, discussion forums, and more.
More than that, the effects of an email bomb attack can last for years (if you don’t unsubscribe from each sender), even though the attack was committed only once. The hackers may also target the user with phishing emails and try to download malware to their computer.
How can you protect your computer and email from unwanted emails and ads? Today we’ll analyze the email bomb attack and find out how it is dangerous and how to hide from it.
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What is an email bomb?
An email bomb is a type of DDoS attack that is intended to cause email failures. Such attacks began in the early 1990s. The first targets were journalists who wrote independent articles about what was happening in the country.
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Today, this type of attack is used everywhere. Anyone can become a target: from a simple user to a government official, a celebrity, or even a millionaire.
In addition, unlike the first electronic bombs, today’s versions can evade a lot of spam filters that totally disable the functioning of email. The failure rate varies from a complete denial of service, to minor inaccuracies in operation.
All cyberattacks on email can be held by a perpetrator, or they may be created by a whole network of bots. There are 5 main types of email bomb:
- A mass mailing is a mailing list of a large amount of network traffic to a particular address. This attack is provided by a special bot or script.
- A link list is the deliberate inclusion of a specific email address on many subscriptions that send unnecessary content. As you know, many services do not request verification in order to sign up. This means that your email address can be registered without you knowing it, and you become a target for a spam bomb attack. Such an attack is the most difficult to prevent. It comes from official sources that are not considered to be spam.
- A ZIP bomb is a bomb that sends some files to a particular email. Unpacking them will consume a lot of available server resources. This will damage performance.
- An attachment is the sending of certain emails that contain numerous attachments. Such an attack is aimed at overloading the data storage or completely stopping its operation.
- A reply-all is an attack aimed at automatic responses to many emails. These emails are usually random.
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How does an email bomb work?
As a rule, an email bomb includes a specially created script that is used to make an attack. As a rule, such a script is sent from a specific email address to thousands of registration forms on websites that don’t require CAPTCHA or opt-in email. So, such forms are classified by sites as legitimate and secure.
In addition, an email bomb attack can serve as a distraction. At the time of the attack, a fraudster can try to steal data or engage in other malicious acts against a network while the user or administrator is unaware or unable to respond.
The irreparable damage that is caused to users from this type of attack is the transformation of their email addresses into useless and broken addresses. In addition, before making a certain address useless, the fraudster may copy all the data about the user’s financial transactions on the network.
Such an attack lasts, on average, a couple of hours until measures are taken to block the attack. However, there are hidden text message bomb attacks that can last up to a year and only slightly disrupt email work, sending numerous spam mailings.
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How to prepare for email bomber attacks
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent or predict an email bomb attack. Because each user with a valid email address can send spam messages to any other address.
However, you can still prepare for such an attack using a special plan of recommendations for this:
First, you should upgrade your email software and uses all existing antivirus features.
Second, you can use “tarpitting”. This special feature blocks and slows down traffic from the sending IP address if this address exceeds the specified message limit per minute.
Third, pay attention to the function of blocking file attachments in ZIP, .exe, .rar, or any compressed formats.
Fourth, in the settings, you can select a limit on the size of attachments per email.
Fifth, you need to ensure that the response to messages is sent only once and not repeated.
Sixth, you should adjust the sending restrictions item in the settings. You need to select the option to send you messages only by internal authorized users.
Finally, avoid frequent posting of your email address on the internet, as scammers can make a similar site and then create spam campaigns using your email.
*Note: If you are the site owner, and you want to protect yourself against this attack, then you are recommended to implement a CAPTCHA on the site.
What to do during an email bomb attack?
- The most important rule is to avoid deleting such messages and follow all the rules for using the email service.
*Note: When analyzing emails, you should pay attention to suspicious actions, such as unauthorized withdrawals or purchase confirmation emails that may be hidden in the message stream.
- All mailboxes you use must have a bounce and notification feature to protect important email messages.
*Note: Your email’s built-in filters can help to prevent receiving spam emails in the inbox. If you apply these filters, add all the necessary email addresses to the list of favorite senders.
- You can also try to implement different filters for spam. They block messages under the title Subscription or Confirmation. However, you will have to check the stability of this filter manually, and make sure any legitimate subscriptions are exempted from the filter.
*Note: As usual, all important accounts should be protected by multi-level authentication.
Email is no longer as trustworthy as it used to be. Data encryption methods that are used to protect user data are becoming obsolete every year. However, developers are in no hurry to improve these tools.
Therefore, the best way to protect against an email bomb attack is to switch to the encrypted Utopia P2P ecosystem’s decentralized email and forget about cyber threats.
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