A common complaint from people is that they receive dubious looking e-mails from seemingly themselves; how can this be possible, and why is it happening?
The quick answer is that the sender of an e-mail can call themselves whatever they want to, and the name in your inbox does not necessarily correspond with the actual e-mail address from which it is sent.
For example, my e-mail address is email@example.com. Only I can send e-mails from this address. However, when people I e-mail receive e-mails from myself, the name that appears in their inbox is ‘Ian Vickers’. Why is this? This is because you can edit the covering name of your e-mail address to whatever you want it to be and it does not have to be at all related to the underlying e-mail address.
In other words, I could quite easily call myself ‘Joe Bloggs’ and send an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org without any issues. The words ‘Ian’, ‘Vickers’ or ‘Diamond Discovery’ do not have to appear in the covering name associated with an e-mail.
Why is this? Simply put, companies that manage people’s e-mails realise that people’s name and titles change as they go through life, whether it via marriage or professional qualification, and that they require the ability for their name to appear as they choose. In addition, many people who have common names often have to end up with e-mail addresses that can be quite different to their actual names. Also there may be a need to differentiate between two employees with the same name who happen to work within the same organisation.
Given all of this, why are you receiving e-mails from yourself that you seemingly never sent? The answer is simple; spammers have appropriated your name or your e-mail address title (not your actual e-mail address) and have used it to cover the e-mail address from which they actually sending from. It is a rouse, and there is nothing technically you can do to stop people doing this.
A good analogy is postal mail. You can write whatever return address on the back on an envelope; it doesn’t necessarily mean that you wrote that particular letter at that address or that you sent the letter from that address. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you live or use that address either.
So what can you do? First of all, ask yourself the obvious question “Did you send this e-mail?” Chances are you probably did not. If you want reassurance that your e-mail address has not been hacked, the best way you can check is to look in your ‘Sent’ e-mail folder. Does the e-mail you have received from yourself appear at the date and time it appears to have been sent to your inbox? If not, your e-mail has not been hacked.
The second thing to note is that you should not open the e-mail. The reason the spammer has appropriated your name is so that you will open the message out of curiosity. Either the message will be a money making scam or something more malicious, such as a message containing ‘malware’ (software that can infect your computer). There is no need to open it and if you really have to, there are safer ways of doing so.
Thirdly, select the e-mail without opening it and block the sender. If you hover your mouse cursor over the e-mail name of the sender, you should see the underlying address from which the e-mail is sent – invariably this does not correspond with the e-mail address ‘on the surface’. You will then be blocking this underlying e-mail address and not yourself, and you will no longer get messages from this particular spammer.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a common tactic amongst spammers so chances are you will receive mysterious e-mails from yourself again in the future but from other senders. The best way to deal with this is to repeat the three steps outlined above again and when necessary.
The key thing to do is not panic; this is a common scam and it does not necessarily mean that your e-mail address has been hacked or that your details are particularly vulnerable. However, if having gone through the process above, and if you are still convinced something more malign is going on, get in touch with your e-mail provider who can double-check this on your behalf.
To find out more about e-mail hosting and Diamond Discovery’s e-mail hosting services, call 01656 725800 or e-mail email@example.com today.
26. How often do e-mail providers back up my e-mail?
This varies from provider to provider depending on the service level agreements they offer their clients.
Free e-mail providers such as Gmail will have multiple servers to ensure continuity of service. However, if you were to accidentally delete your free e-mail account, those service providers would probably not be willing or even able to restore your deleted data.
27. I am changing webhost, who also manage my e-mail; how will my new webhost migrate the e-mail archive securely?
This varies from webhost to webhost, but make sure that you understand the procedure that a new webhost is going to follow and that you are happy with it.
28. I want to change webhosts, who also manage my e-mail; how do I go about notifying them that I am changing providers? What information does my new webhost need from my business?
Your new web hosts will need access to your existing accounts, so they will need your administrator login details.
29. Can my new webhost stop spam e-mail?
The best way to stop spam measure is to be mindful about the way you use your email account. You will never stop spam but the following behaviours and actions will limit the spam you receive.
Avoid opening spam emails and clicking on links in those messages; this could lead to even more spam.
Don’t buy anything that is advertised in a spam e-mail. By doing so, you comprise your e-mail’s security and you may also infected your computer with malware; malicious computer viruses. By buying from spam e-mail, you are also rewarding and encouraging those who sent it..
Don’t be tempted to reply.
Don’t threaten the sender of the spam e-mail. Your threats may be read and those sending spam e-mails have legal rights too. Threatening messages you send could lead to criminal prosecution.
Avoid ‘unsubscribe’ options. Such an option in a spam e-mail is actually a con in itself; instead of removing you from the spammer’s e-mailing list, clicking on the unsubscribe option will confirm that your address is active to the spammer, leading to even more spam.
Use a disposable, free email address for mailing lists and other non-essential communication. If get a lot of spam at this address, you can simply delete it and set up another; you are therefore not compromising your main business e-mail addresses and it removes clutter from your professional inbox.
Be wary about supplying your main business e-mail address. If in doubt about the enquirer’s credentials, it is better to give out an alternative e-mail address you have access to (see above).
Don’t publish your email address on your website. Putting your email address on a website means it can be detected by a ‘spambot’ which collates e-mail addresses for spammers. A professional alternative is to use a web contact form instead.
Set up spam filters with your e-mail provider. Your e-mail provider can set up spam filtering software that will limit the amount of spam you receive, while also providing you an option to review the spam folder in the event any genuine e-mail gets wrongly labelled as spam.
30. What do I do if I have received a threatening e-mail, an e-mail that contains a virus or an e-mail with illegal content?
This very much depends on the nature of the e-mail, if the sender is known to you and if the e-mail was automated or not.
You should consider using anti-virus software of your machines to prevent any technological damage or problems as this mitigates againts viruses and malware.
Threatening e-mails or e-mails with illegal content should be flagged up with the Police.
31. How can I tell if an e-mail is spam or has a virus or not?
Normally, a spam e-mail will have a peculiar e-mail address from the sender, and this e-mail address will not be accurately addressed to the recipient. In other words, if the sender’s e-mail address does not look professional and if the e-mail does not address the recipient by their name, it is highly likely the e-mail in question is spam.
Spam e-mails often feature spelling mistakes and often have attachments that the main e-mail is asking you to open. Spam is often from organisations or people you do not deal with, and if it is from them, it gives itself away by having random, strange content.
If in doubt, find out the company’s genuine website by using a search engine and calling the appropriate telephone number (DO NOT use any of the contact details provided in the suspect e-mail)
32. How can I block someone from sending me an e-mail?
Different e-mail systems have different means of doing this, but all e-mail providers and e-mail clients offer ways of activating a block against a specific e-mail address.
Contact your e-mail provider to find out the best way of doing this given the e-mail systems that you are using.
33. An employee is leaving my company/ has been fired from my company; how can I stop their e-mail address and stop them having access to their work e-mails?
You can ask your e-mail provider to forward email to the departing employee’s address to your own work address. As the company owner, you have legal access to all your employee emails.
To prevent the former employee having access to their e-mail account, you change the login details (such as the password) so they are locked out of the e-mail account at the point they leave your organisation.
34. I have a new member of staff joining my company; how quickly can my webhost set up a new e-mail address? What information do they need to do so?
This is a process that normally just takes a couple of minutes for most web host companies, but this is dependent on the service level agreement they operate by. In any event, give your webhost as much advance warning as possible to ensure that the new employee’s e-mail is set up your system by the the time they start.
The only information a web host will need is the name you wish to have on the e-mail address.
35. I want a new webhost to host my work e-mails; how can I move my e-mails across to a new provider?
Contact the new webhost directly and they will provide the instructions you need to follow.
Make sure that your new webhost ensures that you have backed-up your e-mails securely before the final transfer of services.
You will also need to notify your old provider and terminate any renewal of service that is scheduled with them.
36. How do I set up a signature for my e-mails?
This can be done directly via the e-mail service provider’s control panel in a web browser or via an e-mail client.
Please note that if you are using an e-mail client, the signature will only be used on e-mail sent via that e-mail client and the device on which that e-mail client is installed. You will need to replicate the signature on the e-mail client’s on your other computers and devices.
37. How do I set up an ‘out of office’/ autoreply?
This can be done via your e-mail service provider’s control panel, which can be accessed via a web browser.
The settings and functionality will vary from e-mail provider to e-mail provider.
38. How do I change the name of an existing e-mail address / account? i.e. Jo in Marketing is now married, and no longer want to use her maiden name.
You would have to create a new email address, but with the old email address remaining in place; all the emails sent to the old address will then be forwarded to the new address.
You should also set-up an auto-response on the old address, which would notify senders that a new email is now in use for that person and inform them what that new e-mail address is.
POP accesses your email mailbox on the remote internet server and downloads email messages to your local computer. Typically an e-mail client will provide the option to leave copies of the downloaded messages on the server or delete them after they have been downloaded. If you use POP to access your mailbox from more than one device, e.g. desktop PC, laptop, tablet or phone, the messages stored on the different devices can quickly become out of sync.
If you use the ‘leave a copy’ option, each device will download unread e-mails from the server with no indication of which of these emails you may have deleted, read, flagged or filed on any other device from which you POP access your email. Folders that you create and organise on one device won’t be replicated on the other devices.
If you use the ‘delete’ option, e-mails that are downloaded to one device will not be downloaded to any of the other devices.
In short, POP does not replicate what you do with your e-mails on your local device with the server or any of the other devices you use POP access.
This is where IMAP comes in, as IMAP allows users to store and manage their email on remote servers that synch with all of your devices. This is due to a two-way protocol. Being able to synch your e-mail correctly is extremely important for businesses, when employees will typically have at least two devices; a main computer and a mobile device.
17. How do I synch my e-mail across multiple devices?
As explained above, you will need to set up your e-mail access as IMAP for this to happen. You can do this only if your email host provides IMAP facility. Other database email services such as Microsoft Exchange can also be used. Typically these will provide more and better functionality and will cost more.
18. I want to set up multiple e-mail addresses for my new business; how do I go about this?
the equipment being monitored is provided partly or wholly for work
the employer has made all reasonable efforts to inform the employee that their communications will be monitored.
This activity will take place within the parameters of the current Data Protection Act, and should be clearly spelt out in the Employee Handbook or other company documentation given to employees at the point of employment.
20. How secure & private is my new e-mail address? Who has access to it?
Different e-mail providers offer different levels of assurances.
As a professional organisation, it is best to identify your IT security needs and requirements and talk to a professional e-mail provider (such as Diamond Discovery), who would be best placed to answer your specific questions and build an e-mail system that meets those needs.
21. Can I redirect mail sent to my old e-mail address to my new one? How do I got about doing this?
Yes, although you will need to ensure that you do not close or terminate your old e-mail account prior or during the setting up of your new e-mail account.
Your new e-mail provider will be able to offer the best advice, which will be dependent on how your existing e-mail address is configured or hosted.
22. How much does it cost to have and set-up an e-mail address?
A private email address with any of the main providers is free but you get what you pay for; you will not necessarily get the support, security and backup a professional organisation would require.
Costs start to come in when you want to set up business email addresses using a domain name that you have registered; you have to buy the domain name in question in the first instance. Domain names vary in cost according to their desirability, their availability and who already owns them.
The ongoing costs of professional e-mail will vary from provider to provider, and depending on a particular business’ e-mail needs and requirements – professional e-mail provision is cheaper if you only require four e-mail addresses as opposed to 400.
23. How do I get an e-mail address with my company name in it?
You will need to register and buy a domain name (web address) that will form the basis of your e-mail address i.e. you will need to own www.joeblogsaccountancy.com to set-up and use the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
24. Does my e-mail address need to feature my company name?
Your e-mail address can be anything you want it to be as long as it is available and you own the relevant domain names.
However, all professional concerns should think about using their company name in their e-mail address as it looks professional and it offers reassurance to any recipient that any e-mail sent from your organisation is genuine and is coming from a reputable source.
25. I don’t own the domain name/ web address that I wanted for my business’s website; can I still use it as part of any e-mail address?
Unfortunately not; you must own the registered domain name in order to sue it. Otherwise your only recourse would be to use a free e-mail address service that would also feature the provider’s name e.g. email@example.com.
Other options are available to you if the domain name you specifically want is not available, such as using different suffixes on the address i.e. using .co.uk as opposed to .com.
You may also want to use an acronym or an abbreviation as another alternative.
Please note that owning a particular domain name does not mean that you own the associated trademark of that name. Just because you may own www.coca-cola.com does not mean your business can trade as Coca Cola. Likewise, if you own www.coca-cola.com, Coca Cola would not be able to force you to surrender it although you may encounter issues if you were to use that domain name to sell other products, especially if they were in a similar field (in this case, soft drinks).
Can you remember a time before e-mail? It certainly seems a long time ago, with e-mail being the primary means for organisations and businesses to communicate with each other. Even with the prevalence of social networks, many people still use e-mail astheir primary means of electronic communication for official business.
Given this, as well as the launch of a new e-mail hosting service from Diamond Discovery, here are 38 things I think all business people need to know about e-mail.
This is the first part of a three-part article. Part 2 can be read here while Part 3 can be read here.
1. What is an e-mail?
In simplest terms, an e-mail is a message distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more other recipients via a computer network.
The term ‘e-mail’ itself was coined in the 1980s, as an abbreviation for ‘electronic mail’.
2. How do I choose and set up an e-mail address?
You can set up an e-mail address for free with several famous internet companies such as Google and Microsoft. These services include Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail/Outlook.com, Mail.com, and Lycos.
Internet providers such as BT and Sky also offer their own e-mail services and addresses for customers.
However, most professional organisations are better off paying a webhosting company to manage their e-mail addresses for them. Not only do paid-for services offer a higher level of customer support for organisations with multiple employees, but also such providers offer backup and online security services as well.
In addition, there has been much concern and speculation about the security of free e-mail services in the light of recent hacking and surveillance scandals, and a paid-for service can offer a level of privacy and assurance against such threats.
Last, but certainly not least, paying a company to host your e-mail will allow you to use any domain name that you own within an e-mail address. In terms of the outward branding and professionalism of an organisation, this is arguably essential. After all, which is more impressive, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com?
3. Do I need to install anything on my computer/phone/tablet to use or have access to my e-mail?
No special software has to be installed on your computer, phone or tablet to view e-mail, althoughyou will need (at a minimum) a web browser to receive, view and send e-mail messages.
Most people use an e-mail client (see below) to view, read, file and send e-mails, which is software installed on a computer that will store copies of your e-mails for reference when you happen to be offline (not connected to the internet).
4. Can I access my e-mail away from my computer?
You can access your email from any computer with an internet connection and a web browser; all you will need is your login details.
To read historic e-mails or draft e-mails when not connected to the internet, you will need an e-mail client.
5. What is an E-mail Client? Do I need one and which is the best one?
An e-mail client is software that allows you to effectively manage your e-mails without having to do so through a web browser. Such software also allows you to review and draft e-mails while your computer or device is not connected to the internet.
There are a variety of e-mail clients available on the market for both PCs and Apple Macs, while mobile phones and tablet devices have their own versions. Which one you choose and use is dependent on the computer and devices you have, and the IT requirements of your business.Diamond Discovery can advise on this.
6. How do I set up my e-mail account on my computer, phone or tablet?
Once you have an e-mail account established, you can always view your e-mail through a web browser with the links and login details provided by your e-mail service.
Most e-mail clients will have ‘set-up wizards’ that will provide on-screen prompts on configuring your e-mail for the software involved. E-mail providers will also be able to advise on how to set up their services for most e-mail clients.
There are different ways of setting up e-mail on mobile phones and tablets. Instructions will be available either with the device or on the manufacturer’s website. To do this though, you will need the login details from your e-mail provider.
7. How do I view my e-mail?
Any e-mail you receive will be displayed in what is known as an ‘Inbox’, which lists the e-mails, usually as you have received them in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first. By using multiple columns, your inbox will display all the components of an e-mail such as the sender’s name, the subject line of the e-mail, the time and date it was sent, the level of importance of the e-mail and whether the e-mail has any attachments.
Inboxes can be searched and filtered in a variety of different ways so you can find the e-mail you are looking for. To give one example, you can organise your inbox alphabetically according to the senders’ names as opposed to a strict chronological order.
You can also view e-mails you have sent via a folder known as the ‘Sent box’, ‘Sent items’ or just ‘Sent’; this folder can be manipulated and searched in the same manner as the Inbox.
Depending on the type of e-mail service you are using (POP/ IMAP), e-mail users can file e-mails into subfolders of their choosing, which helps clear their e-mail inbox and also helps archive historic e-mails in a categorised manner.
8. How can I send an e-mail?
Whether you are in a web browser or an e-mail client, you will see an option to either ‘Compose’ an e-mail or for ‘New E-mail’.
Click this option, and a blank e-mail template will open. You will need to enter the intended recipient’s e-mail address, a subject line and then the main message (body text) of your e-mail.
In this template, you can also select other options, such as the level of importance or confidentiality, or attach another e-mail or another electronic document (such as a Word document or PDF) that you want to send via the e-mail.
You also have the option to carbon copy (‘cc’) another e-mail user for their reference or blind carbon copy in another person, whose e-mail address will be hidden from the primary recipient. You can send the same e-mail to multiple users at the same time, but be careful that you are only sending the e-mail to appropriate people and that you are not ‘spamming’ (spam is unwanted e-mail) others.
9. Are my e-mails kept safe and are they backed up?
Your e-mails are kept safe from others by the login details given to you by your e-mail provider. It is therefore important that you keep these safe and do not divulge them to others. It is also recommended that you change your password at a regular interval.
Most e-mail providers (both free and paid-for) will undertake the necessary security precautions behind the scenes to address any weaknesses that they are made aware of.
Most e-mail providers offer some form of backup, although the level of service will vary from provider to provider, and will be stipulated in your service level agreement with them. This service level agreement will specify the frequency of how often e-mail servers are backed up by your provider.
Most free e-mail services offer the option of exporting your e-mails from their servers for your own records, and you may have your own copies backed up locally (i.e. on your computer’s hard drive or your company’s server) if you use an e-mail client.
10. Are my e-mails guaranteed to be delivered?
No e-mail provider can provide a 100% guarantee that any e-mail you send will be successfully delivered immediately, or even at all. This is because there are many factors that are completely outside e-mail providers’ control.
However, the majority of the e-mails you send will be successfully delivered if you are using the correct e-mail address for the recipient, your internet connection is robust and there are no issues with your internet service provider (ISP) address (some ISP addresses get labelled by systems as ‘spammers’ due to misuse of e-mail by others who use the same provider).
There are also issues such as firewalls and IT security protocols to consider. Some companies will not accept e-mails that have attachments over a certain size, to take one example.
In most cases, the sender will be informed by an automated e-mail response if the e-mail they have sent cannot be delivered to the intended recipient. In most cases, this automated response will tell you the reason why the e-mail cannot be delivered. These are known as Non-Delivery Reports (NDRs).
Most e-mail clients also provide an option to request a delivery receipt and/or a read receipt on an e-mail you send, although the recipient can choose to block or cancel this response.
If in doubt, you can always communicate with the recipient via a different method (such as telephone) if you want to ensure 100% that they have received the e-mail you have sent them.
11. Am I guaranteed to receive all e-mails sent to my new address?
Some e-mail providers and e-mail clients have spam filters that will reduce the number of emails that you receive.
The spam filters used by ISPs are based on the content of the message. If the message contains certain text, it may be dropped into the spam filter. Simply check your ‘Spam’ or ‘Junk’ folder to see what has been put in there.
These filters are essential to help reduce the unsolicited, automated messages you receive as well as any malicious messages that may contain either computer viruses, pornographic or other unwanted content.
12. Can I have multiple e-mail addresses?
Yes, you can have as many as you like providing they are different to any e-mail address that already exists.
Just repeat the process of setting up your first e-mail address, or talk to your e-mail provider about your needs and the particular purpose of each e-mail address.
13. I already have a Gmail/Hotmail/Outlook e-mail address; why do I need another e-mail address?
Strictly speaking, you don’t. If you are happy with using any of these services for personal or professional purposes, carry on using them.
However, most organisations are better off having paid-for dedicated e-mail support as that offers the professionalism and security you would need to maintain and protect your vital business e-mail correspondence.
As I have already mentioned, you may want a separate, more professional looking email for your business, e.g. ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
14. I already have Gmail/Hotmail/Outlook; can you import my old e-mails to my new address?
Yes; talk to your professional e-mail provider on how best to do this.
15. I have too many e-mails in my inbox; is there a way to file/store these away?
As already mentioned, you can create folders separate to your ‘Inbox” folder. With these subfolders, you can store emails relating to different things according to categories of your choosing, e.g. ‘Invoices’ or ‘Suppliers’.