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I use gmail, and about 3 weeks ago I started getting a couple e-mails a day from random sources. All of the e-mails contain gibberish text like this:

 6 5 4 8 2586 8016 70170
  2 1 08 05 60 172 01 5463412 5410
  the stinging did working interpret our Or fire sudden of they spurts
our together of
 will they will worried be things as and take and stupid by lots
arefat  4 3 0 643 4033 8 71054 2438264 46850
  8 6 4 8 8 87 3178 375345 560723 3
  fire the working interpret together of of Or spurts they sudden
stinging our our did
 stupid lots will and will things be arefat worried take by and they

And the exact same named PDF attachment that I can only assume is malware:

pdf malware

The e-mails all come from different addresses and no matter how many times I report them, they come in twice a day. Is there someway I can get these filtered to my spam or trash folders in the least constraining way possible -- so people I know can still send me PDFs?

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    You can simply ignore them/delete them/mark them as spam, no? And there's no need to speculate - download this PDF and upload it to virustotal.com. Just don't let the browser open it directly. If you're targeted you may be compromised just by opening/viewing it. Aug 18, 2022 at 5:19
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    If you use a mail client rather than going to the web UI at gmail.com, you could involve your anti-virus software in the filtering process (assuming this PDF actually contains malware as opposed to containing a message encouraging you to send them something of value). Otherwise, that's Google's responsibility to do server-side. Reporting those will help them, but they only have so many resources for their free services.
    – Adam Katz
    Aug 18, 2022 at 15:53
  • @ArtemS.Tashkinov Surprisingly nothing showed up on virustotal.com. The various e-mail addresses sending out the PDF appear to be infected with something though (assuming they're real accounts), so not sure I completely trust them.
    – Mordred
    Aug 19, 2022 at 19:13
  • I'm pretty sure the PDFs themselves are safe and are simply used as a final payload for the message, so that Google's automatic filtering didn't/couldn't detect obvious SPAM. I've seen it on many occasions. Aug 20, 2022 at 8:41

1 Answer 1

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Spam in emails is something that is extremely difficult to get rid of. Once your email address is leaked and in a database used by spammers, you will receive unwanted emails more or less frequently, depending on the exposure of that database.

You have an email address, so people can send emails to you. That’s the whole point of it. It is like having a mailbox. You cannot really prevent others to put ads in it.

What you can do, is asking for your mailman (in our analogy, this is the gmail server) to drop this junk so you don’t have to see it.

But ultimately, it will be your call to decide whether or not you want to open an email.

Fortunately, there are some tools that you can use to help you in this task.

  • Signal sender as spam: this will help gmail better analyse future incoming emails and senders, improving their detecting mechanisms.
  • Add filters: gmail allows you to define filters based on multiple parameters, like email subject, or senders email address and even keywords in the content of the email. This can be useful for your case since you see a pattern in the junk emails that you receive.
  • Ultimately, you can filter all emails except the ones coming from a whitelist (let it be a domain or specific addresses). Again, this is done via filters and is probably a bit overkill, but it can work depending on your needs (if you know exactly in advance who you want to receive emails from).

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