What is it?
Anyone with an email account is increasingly likely, from time to time, to be sent unsolicited/junk email, commonly known as 'spam'.
It is Hampshire County Council's policy to take all reasonable steps to prevent the receipt of such mail by the users of its IT services but without hindering normal business.
There are lots of different types of spam, but regardless of which type of email you may receive in your inbox, the action to take is always the same - do not open the spam, delete it from your inbox.
- Types of spam
Phishing emails look like they've come from websites you trust, such as your bank or credit card company, and will ask you to provide personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information. Never respond to this type of email.
This type of spam is not really any different from junk mail delivered via the postal services. However, under an EU directive, anyone in the EU who wants to mail you advertising or marketing material on a regular basis must have your permission to do so.
Hoax virus warnings
These emails pretend to come from an authoritative source (eg. AOL, Microsoft, IBM) and warn about new viruses, encouraging you to forward the email to your friends and colleagues. Never forward this type of email. If you are unsure about it speak to your departmental IT support contact. Virus warnings believed to be genuine should be raised to the IT Service Desk.
Pornographic and obscene
Pornographic and obscene text and images can be extremely upsetting and worrying. If you are particularly upset, talk to someone about your experience - you may want to speak with your line manager or contact the Employee Support Line.
Emails promising money (known as 'advance fee fraud')
There are a number of variations but typically, you will be promised a large sum of money if you help with transferring sums of money to the UK. Do not be tempted - responding to this type of email has cost many people thousands of pounds. Find out more on the Hampshire Constabulary website.
Investment related fraud
Follow the advice provided above for 'advance fee fraud'. Get rich quick schemes rarely, if ever, deliver what they promise.
Emails which encourage you to forward further emails to all of your friends and colleagues are simply 'electronic chain letters'. Examples include referring to the plight of a terminally ill child, promising donations for treatment from a named organisation for every forwarded email.
- Spam filter
All incoming email is scanned by a filter (a piece of software called Mimecast) which decides if individual emails should be blocked, held in quarantine or delivered to your Outlook inbox.
Regrettably, some spam may still be received directly in your inbox, but for every item received in quarantine or your inbox, there are hundreds blocked by Mimecast.
Messages on hold (in quarantine)
If the email filter thinks that an email may be spam, it will quarantine it and send you an email with the title "Email Filtering Service Messages on hold for ******@hants.gov.uk".
When you receive a quarantine email, you will see a list of all current quarantined emails, and for each email you have three options:
- Permit Sender - will release the email and allow all future emails from the sender through to your inbox
- Release Email - will only release the current email, future emails may be quarantined
- Reject Email - this will block the current email and any future emails from the sender.
Click on the appropriate option for each email listed. When you have dealt with each email, you can delete the "Email Filtering Service" email.
Tip: When you select one of these options, a Mimecast pop up window will appear confirming the action has been successful - this will happen for each message listed on the email, please close these windows down.
Quarantine notifications are sent regularly (four times a day Monday-Friday and twice daily Saturday and Sunday). But you can check what messages you have on hold at any time by opening the Mimecast tab in Outlook.
View 'On Hold' messages (at any time)
You can view Email Filtering Service Messages at any time. This is useful if you are expecting an email but haven't received it in your inbox and suspect that it may have been quarantined.
To view messages that are currently quarantined:
Go to the Mimecast tab, click On Hold Messages then Personal On Hold.
A new window will open which will display all 'on hold' messages for you.
On the Personal tab, scroll through the list on the left and select an email to view the content on the right (NB. the Moderated tab is not available to use and should be ignored).
Once you've selected an email you can view what action you want to take. The options you see may vary:
Permit Sender Releases the email to your inbox and adds the sender's email address to your list of permitted senders. Block Sender Blocks any future emails from this sender.
Report Spam Report the email to the Mimecast Security team (the sender of the email is added to your blocked senders list). Reject The email is removed from the list. Release The email is released from the list to your Outlook inbox.