You wake up one morning and see that you have an astounding 500 emails in your inbox. It’s an unexpected sight, and you can’t help but wonder, “What in the world happened?”
That’s when you learn that you’ve been a victim of email bombing.
Email bombing is a malicious act in which an attacker sends an enormous amount of emails to a victim’s inbox, causing it to overflow and become overwhelmed.
The impact of email bombing can be severe and can have both personal and wide-ranging implications.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what email bombing is, the risks associated with it, and how to mitigate its effects.
What is an Email Bomb?
First things first, an email bomb is a type of cyberattack that can easily flood your inbox with dozens or even thousands of unwanted emails in a matter of seconds. While email bombs are most commonly used as a form of spam, they can also be utilized as a hacking technique. And let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that!
So, how does it work?
An email bomb can be carried out by either a single person, a group of people, or a malicious software program. These attackers will generate an enormous amount of emails and send them all at the same time. The inbound server will become overwhelmed with the influx of emails and will ultimately crash, giving the attacker a chance to cause chaos.
Now, it’s important to note that an email bomb is not the same as a Denial of Service attack. In a DoS attack, hackers will target a website or a server, rather than an email account.
Nevertheless, both these attacks can be a real hassle and can cause significant damage.
What Are Signs of Email Bombing?
So how can you tell if you’re being targeted by an email bomb?
One of the most obvious signs is a sudden influx of spam mail that’s much larger in volume than your usual traffic. You may see hundreds or even thousands of messages flooding your inbox in a short period of time.
This can make it difficult to find legitimate emails and may even cause your email client to crash. If you notice a sudden and dramatic increase in email traffic, it could be a sign of email bombing.
Slow Network Performance
Another sign to look out for is slower network performance. Email bombs can put a strain on your network infrastructure, causing it to slow down or even crash. This can affect your internet browsing, file transfers, and other online activities.
If you’re experiencing slow network performance along with an increase in spam mail, it’s possible that you’re being targeted by an email bomb.
Tone of the Email
The tone of the spam mail can also be a clue. Email bombs are often carried out by individuals or groups with a specific agenda, such as activism or revenge. The messages may contain threatening or aggressive language, or they may be designed to discredit a person or organization.
If you notice a sudden influx of spam mail with a specific tone or theme, it could be a sign of an email bomb.
If you see a never-ending stream of emails popping up on your screen, it could be a sign of email bombing. The bombardment of unwanted messages can cause your email client to constantly refresh, leading to an overload on your system. Your system may also become laggy and slow, so whenever you start experiencing any unusual behavior on your computer, check your inbox for email bombing.
Unsubscribe Links Don’t Work
Most promotional emails contain an unsubscribe link that enables users to opt-out of the distribution lists. With email bombing, however, the unsubscribe function may not work. Clicking on the unsubscribe link can activate the spammers to send more emails, making the matter worse.
If you wish to opt out of a mailing list and you can’t find the unsubscribe option, then mark the message as spam and delete it.
One of the most significant concerns with email bombing is the long-term impact on your email account. If the bombardment isn’t caught early enough, your inbox may get overwhelmed, which can lead to diminished productivity, missed deadlines, and, in some cases, loss of data.
You may also encounter the issue of exhausted storage space, which can result in the loss of older emails or the need to upgrade to premium storage space.
What Are the Dangers of Email Bombs?
Apart from the obvious inconvenience of having to sift through hundreds or even thousands of unwanted messages, email bombs can also cause damage to your computer or network.
Certain email bombs can contain viruses or malware that can infect your computer, and a larger-scale mail bomb can slow down or crash servers.
Not only that, but email bombs can be used as a way to gather personal information or to launch more targeted cyber attacks.
What Are the Different Types of Email Bomb Attacks?
Let’s talk about different types of email bomb attacks so you can be well-equipped to defend your inbox.
The easiest and most common type of email bomb attack is mass mailing. This attack involves sending many emails to a single email address or a list of email addresses. These emails usually include spam messages or other junk mail that quickly fill up your inbox and make it impossible to sort through your important emails.
Next on the list is list linking. List linking happens when attackers get their hands on a list of email addresses and use a script to send out multiple copies of the same email (like confirmation emails) to every email ID on the list.
This attack can result in an overload on your email server, which inevitably crashes your email client.
Zip Bombing aka Decompression Bomb
If you thought that regular email bombs were bad enough, you really don’t want to come across a zip bombing attack. This type of email bomb attack is a little more advanced and involves the attacker compressing a file to an absurdly small size, and then loading it up with data meant to choke your email client’s processing power.
The result? Your email client’s memory gets overwhelmed, resulting in a system crash.
Another email bomb attack that’s a little sneaky is the one that targets large attachments. These attackers send emails that contain files that are so big, downloading them can cause your email client to crawl to a stop.
This type of email bomb often happens when an attacker targets a specific recipient and tries to exploit their email client’s inability to download large files.
How to Prevent Email Bombing
Everyone who uses email services can become a target of such attacks, but don’t worry, as some practical measures can be taken to reduce the chances of being a victim of email bombing.
Keep Business and Personal Email Addresses Separate
Your personal email account may be susceptible to email bombs from hackers that may disrupt your privacy.
By having separate email accounts, you can avoid such hackers from gaining knowledge about your personal and business activities. Having two separate emails with two factor authentication for login can be useful when it comes to managing your emails and keeping them more organized and less chaotic.
Make Sure Your Email Delivery Software is Up to Date and Patched
One of the most important measures you can take to prevent email bombing is to ensure that your email software is running on the latest version and is updated regularly with security patches.
Email delivery software that is not updated is more likely to be hacked by hackers and can lead to email bombing. Updates and patches to your IP address and email software are intended to fix bugs and security issues in the software. Keeping your email software up to date can save you from potential damage.
Add Antivirus and Keep it Updated
Antivirus software is an essential tool for effectively preventing email bombing. Antivirus is designed to detect and protect your computer from malicious software that can harm your device and network.
By adding antivirus to your system, you can successfully protect your computer from malware and prevent email bombing. It’s essential to keep your antivirus software updated to ensure that it’s always ready to detect and remove any potential threat.
Employ Tarpitting to Block or Slow Traffic
Tarpitting is a technique used to make it difficult for attackers to send bulk emails, in other words, slowing down traffic that could potentially be harmful.
With tarpitting, incoming traffic patterns are analyzed and malicious sources are deliberately slowed down or blocked. This technique is helpful in blocking unwanted and persistent emails from hackers and keeping your data safe to avoid unwanted downtime.
Consider Blocking File Attachments or Limit Maximum File Attachment Size
Consider blocking certain file attachments or limiting the maximum file attachment size that can be sent. Cyber criminals often use email bombing to send massive files, taking up all of your inbox space. By limiting or blocking these files, you greatly reduce the risk of an email bombing attack.
Make Sure Out of Office or Bounce Back Messages Are Only Sent Once
Another tip is to make sure that your out-of-office or bounce back messages are only sent once. These messages can quickly become repetitive, adding to the flood of emails in your inbox. By ensuring that these messages are only sent a single time, you can cut down on unnecessary clutter in your email.
Limit Send Permissions to Internal, Authorized Users
By restricting who has access to send emails, you greatly reduce the possibility of an internal employee accidentally setting off an email bombing attack.
Don’t Post Plain Text Email Addresses Online
This leaves you open to automated bots that scour the web looking for email addresses to target. Always use secure contact forms or images with your email address embedded instead.
Finally, you may want to utilize a secure email service like Sekur. This provides end-to-end encryption for all your emails, making it nearly impossible for hackers to intercept or attack. With these extra security measures, you can rest easy knowing that your email is well-protected.
Tips for Surviving an Email Bomb Attack
While an email attack can be annoying at best and catastrophic at worst, the good news is that there are some steps you can take to help you survive. Here’s what you need to know.
Use Failover Services for Inboxes
One of the best ways to survive an email bomb attack is to have a backup email account that is not connected to your main email. This is known as a failover service for inboxes. It’s like having a spare tire in case one of your tires goes flat.
You can sign up for a free email service like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook and use it as your backup email account. Make sure to set up forwarding from your main email account to your backup email, so you don’t miss any important emails while dealing with the email bomb attack.
Avoid Mass Deletion
It can be tempting to start mass deleting all the emails that are flooding your inbox, but this can be a big mistake. Some of those emails could be important, and deleting them could result in missing critical information.
Instead, take the time to sort through your emails carefully. You can quickly delete spam and unwanted emails, but be careful not to delete anything significant.
Use a Bulk Mail Filter
Many email services offer a feature called bulk mail filtering. This can be helpful for surviving an email bomb attack because it automatically directs all mass emails to a separate folder. This way, you can quickly sort through your inbox and focus on the essential emails without being overloaded with the mass emails.
Use Custom Spam Filters
Custom spam filters take filtering to the next level by allowing you to set specific filters to weed out unwanted emails. This can be helpful for surviving an email bomb attack because you can create filters to direct all emails from specific senders to the trash. This way, you won’t have to worry about sorting through them during the attack.
Make Sure Online Passwords are Changed
Make sure to change your passwords frequently and use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using obvious words or phrases and try to use a unique password for every account. By doing this, you’ll increase the security of your accounts and reduce the likelihood of hackers gaining access to them.
Implement CAPTCHA on Website’s Subscription Forms
One way attackers bombard you with unwanted email is by bombing your email subscription forms with fake email addresses.
One way to counter this is by adding a simple CAPTCHA test to your subscription forms. CAPTCHA requires users to perform a task that computers cannot easily recognize, such as identifying text or solving a visual puzzle. By adding a CAPTCHA test, you can ensure that real humans are subscribing to your emails, and it limits your exposure to fake emails and spam.
Send Opt-in Emails to New Subscribers
Opt-in emails let people know what type of content will be sent, allowing them to unsubscribe just as easily if they don’t want to receive future messages. Sending opt-in emails not only reduces spam reports, but it also helps you send relevant and engaging content, resulting in better engagement metrics.
Have Strong Inbound Security in Place
Having excellent inbound security measures in place is essential if you’re receiving countless emails per day. You can use SPAM filters to help you sort through the pile-up. Also, check your email filters to ensure you have the necessary settings to block unwanted emails.
Encryption is another great way to secure your email messages, making it harder for attackers to intercept and read your emails.
The Takeaway: Sign Up for Sekur
Sekur is a secure messaging app that’s designed to keep your inbox safe. It can save you from experiencing continuous email strikes and most importantly, protect your files from getting corrupted.
At the onset of an attack, Sekur reduces the severity of the attack by suppressing the flow of incoming emails, giving you time to investigate the source of the emails and nip it in the bud.
By using Sekur, you’re taking a proactive approach to protecting your system from threatful emails. Make it your go-to!