Top Tips For Fighting Spam

You can protect yourself from spam in email and instant messages by following these tips:

  • Install a comprehensive PC security package and keep it up to date. An email filter and PC spam-blocking software are absolutely critical. Obtain security software available from Broadband Security which lets you enjoy a worry-free internet experience by protecting your identity, by eliminating viruses, spyware, email scams, hackers and online predators, and by providing automated back-up for important files. A firewall monitors PC activity and prevents Trojans from installing on your computer.
     
  • Protect your email address and instant message ID. Do not post them on newsgroups, chat rooms, websites, blogs, social networking sites such as MySpace, or online service directories. Try setting up two email addresses, one for real use and one for newsgroups and chats. You should understand privacy policies and forms, and use opt-out options. When you register with any site, pay particular attention to the data-protection information. Make sure you don’t give the site the right to sell your email to third parties. Sites often have a little check box already ticked consenting to these rights. Read the text carefully and either remove the tick, or add it, depending on the wording, to ensure you opt-out and don’t provide consent.
     
  • Use great caution when opening attachments on your PC, PDA, or wireless device. Configure your anti-virus software to automatically scan all email and instant message attachments. Make sure your email programme doesn’t automatically open attachments or automatically render graphics, and ensure that the preview pane is turned off. Refer to your programme’s safety options or preferences menu for instructions. Never open unsolicited business emails, or attachments that you’re not expecting – even from people you know. Opening the attachment launches the virus, sidelining your computer and sending copies of itself to everyone in your email address book. If you aren’t expecting the attachment, don’t open it. Ever.
     
  • Educate your children not to fill out online surveys, or register for contests or fan clubs. If they want to become a member of a legitimate site such as Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, have them come to you first so you can read the site’s privacy policy.
     
  • Watch out for phishing scams. If you get a spam email, don’t click on any links within it, especially ‘unsubscribe’ links. All clicking on these links may do is confirm to the spammer you’re a real person at that email address and encourages them to send you more. Instead, open a separate web browser and visit the site directly. You can also verify that an email is legitimate by calling the business directly. Sometimes links to web pages contained in the email are ‘personalised’ so the spammer knows it was you that clicked on them, which further confirms your identity
     
  • Do not reply to spam. Never send your credit-card information, National Insurance number, and other private information via email or instant message.
     
  • Create a complex email address. This makes it more difficult for hackers to auto-generate your email, or target your email for other types of attacks. Try to use letters, numbers, and other characters in a unique combination. Substitute numbers for letters when you can. A sample complex email is [email protected]
     
  • Create smart and strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack. Try incorporating capital letters, numbers and special characters – and use more than six characters. An example of a strong password is Go1dM!n3.
     
  • Never enter your personal information in a pop-up. Sometimes a phisher will direct you to a real company’s website, but then an unauthorised pop-up created by the scammer will appear, with blanks in which to provide your personal information. If you fill it in, your information will go to the phisher. The pop-up blocker in the McAfee Internet Security Suite helps prevent this type of phishing attack
     
  • Use security software to protect your email account. Security software available on this site will significantly reduces your chances of becoming a victim, and gives you a worry-free internet experience. Keep it running, and be sure to download the regular virus updates.
     
  • Don’t panic. If you suspect hackers may have got hold of your financial data, contact one or all of the major credit bureaus – Equifax UK at www.equifax.co.uk or Experian at www.experian.co.uk. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. They will be able to provide you with lots of advice to prevent further loss. You should also report this to your bank or credit card company.