Spam emails

Spam is the common reference to unsolicited bulk electronic messages. The following information is about handling spam at RMIT:

What is spam?

Spam is the common reference to unsolicited bulk electronic messages. Spam is usually transmitted to a large number of recipients who have not requested those messages. It is transmitted via electronic mail messages, but increasingly SMS messages (text messages delivered to mobile phones). It is usually, but not necessarily, commercial in nature i.e. generally promoting or selling products or services.

The bulk of spam messages also share one or more of the following characteristics:

  • They are sent in a largely untargeted and indiscriminate manner, often by automated means
  • They include or promote illegal or offensive content
  • Their purpose is fraudulent or otherwise deceptive
  • They could collect personal information in breach of the National Privacy Principles (the recent extensions of the Privacy Act to business)
  • They are sent in a manner that disguises the originator; e.g. from an internet address other than that shown in the message as received, often involving the unauthorised use of an innocent third party's e-mail server
  • They do not offer a working address to which recipients may send messages opting-out of receiving further unsolicited messages.

More about spam

How is a message identified as spam?

Google has its own algorithms to identify spam emails.

It identifies spam-like behaviour in messages and awards points for each instance of spam-like behaviour found in a message.

When a message receives a score above the configured spam threshold set, then the message is considered likely to be spam.

When a message considered as a spam it will be delivered to the spam folder, bypassing the inbox.

What is a false positive?

It may happen that a message is falsely identified as being spam because the message exhibits spam characteristics. Characteristics can be as simple as a message from a known spam address, or the message contains sales type information. See Mail marked as spam.

Black Lists

Black Lists are compiled and managed by both commercial organisations and some volunteer organisations, usually comprised of Mail Administrators.

Black Lists contain the name or IP addresses of systems or networks that continually send out spam messages. All messages received from a site or address would normally be treated as spam and usually will be rejected by the organisation and won’t be delivered to recipient’s mailbox.

White Lists

White Lists contain the names of email addresses, or sites that are trusted by RMIT. Mail from these sites will be allowed to bypass spam filters. Mail from some sites may have a sufficient number of spam characteristics for it to be identified as spam. White Lists are used to allow message from these sites to bypass spam scanners.

If you have an address relevant to RMIT that you would like to see added to the White List, then you can send a request to the Service and Support Centre. This request should include a sample email from the site.

The Mail Administrator will review the request, to determine if the site can be added to the White List.

Why do I get spam?

Spam distribution lists are generated from a range of sites. These include:

  • Vendors sell customer and contact lists for distribution
  • Web sites that you have accessed and left your email address
  • Competitions you have entered
  • ISP’s, newsgroups and distribution.

How can I request a block on a source of spam?

If you receive messages that you would like blocked, you can configure your mailbox to filter those messages, or you can report them as spam.

For more detail, refer to Gmail spam and suspicious emails.

Any request to whitelist or blacklist mailing address at the domain level should be directed to the Service and Support Centre.

The Mail Administrator will review the request, and if the site can be blocked e.g. if no other staff member or student will require emails from the site you are requesting to block, then they will do this.

Managing spam


To check for any spam emails, just click on the ‘spam’ folder in your normal email account, which is listed alongside your other folders. From here, any spam emails will be displayed, and you can determine whether to deliver these to your inbox, and block or approve senders.

Make sure you regularly check the spam folder so you don’t miss anything important that has been quarantined.

Tips and troubleshooting

View Gmail spam and suspicious emails to find out how to:

  • add approved senders to your mail
  • block a sender and mark as spam ongoing
  • delivering legitimate mail marked as spam

Look out for Spam and phishing emails

To find out more about spam emails and how to avoid them, see sections above.

For information on phishing scam emails and how to spot them, visit the Security web page.