Spam and other on-line threats, a page of Kuder's Humor and Wisdom website.

 

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What is spam?  Spam is unsolicited commercial e-mail, sent out in bulk.  Per Fighting Spam for Dummies, 80% of all e-mail is spam; and spam costs $9.4 billion per year.  The European Union has banned spam.  The US Congress has not.  I suggest writing to your congressman, and provide a format, below.  Spam is primarily used to promote classic scams like appeals to send money to Nigeria, free vacations or cable TV, account verifications placed by identity thieves (phishing), sale of prescription drugs without a prescription, claims to enlarge sexual body parts, sales of large e-mail lists (which amount to creating additional spammers), quick (and/or easy) ways to get rich, lose weight, get an unsecured credit card or erase accurate negative information from a credit record.

 

What about software programs to control spam?

Most Spam control software programs (such as those made by Microsoft, McAfee and Symantec) just result in putting suspected spam files in a separate folder.  But since these spam control programs sometimes put stuff you want in the spam folder and sometimes leave spam in your inbox, such programs are not very helpful.  Some e-mail services, such as Earthlink, ask any senders not on your approved list to read a graphic, rather than text message and ask the sender to copy it into a blank  (automated programs, called scavenger bots, often used by spammers, can’t do this to harvest your e-mail address) and then send you a request to be added to your approved list.  This seems to me like a fairly good approach. 

 

What to do about spam:

 

If you don’t like getting unsolicited commercial email, do the following:

 

1. Never reply to a spammer (not even to request to be removed from their list!) - that will verify the validity of your e-mail address (and the fact that you read it) and result in your getting more (not less) spam. 

 

2. Never post your real e-mail address (the one you actually check for incoming messages) anywhere on the web.  If you do, spammers, will definitely pick up your address with software that requires little or no effort on their part, and the spam you will get will multiply.  When websites require an e-mail address to get information you want, use a temporary, disposable e-mail address. 

 

3.  Forward any spam you get to the Federal Trade Commission (spam@uce.gov).  Paste the following message into the body of the communication: Subject: Notification of a spammer   Body: Attention: Federal Trade Commission:

I have included full headers to help you identify this spammer, who sent me this bulk, unsolicited, commercial e-mail ("spam"), pasted below.  This type of communication is a waste of my time, and wrongfully shifts the spammer’s rightful costs of advertising to the Internet Service Providers who are burdened with the cost and time-delaying effects of spam.  Experts say that spam accounts for about half of all e-mails and drastically slows down the speed of the whole Internet.  Please do what you can to stop the spread of spam.  Please take what action you can against this spammer.  Thank you.

--Then paste the headers, then paste the spam you got.  To find the headers in MS-Outlook, right click on the subject line, then go to options.

If it is too much trouble to forward every spam email you get to the FTC, just forward the most offensive ones.

 

4.   Send spam to http://spamcop.net and paste in the following addressee (spam@uce.gov) and header:  NOTIFICATION OF A SPAMMER, The spammer below is using your resources to send out bulk unsolicited commercial e-mail ("spam").  See information regarding your customer, pasted below. I have furnished full headers. I hope you can take action against this spammer.  

Note: I have found that this approach takes even longer than reporting spam to the FTC, but it results in spamcop reporting spam to the ISP that allowed the spam.  This could result in the ISP canceling the account of the spammer.

 

5. Report spam to: http://myfloridalegal.com/spamenfo.nsf/complaint.

 

6. Add the www.SpamBlockerUtility.com to your Outlook software.  It will add a button bar to your Outlook and Explorer, and will move spam you get to a separate folder, as it comes in. It doesn’t result in the offense being reported to anyone.   Click on the link above to download this software to your pc.  If you later decide you want to unload spamblocker from your pc, you can do so through your pc’s control panel.  Commercial software programs, such as Norton anti-spam use the same approach as this free software option.

 

7. One effective method to stop spam is to change your e-mail address to another address, when the volume of spam you are getting is too high; close out the old address, and notify the people you want to correspond with of your new address.  That’s a pain in the butt, but effective

 

8.  Join the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail: http://www.cauce.org.

 

9.  Write a letter to your congressmen.  To determine who your congressmen are anywhere in the USA, go to this website: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/   or http://www.house.gov/

Here is what to say (You can put it into your own words, if you wish):


Please support stronger anti-spam legislation

I strongly urge stronger legislation to prohibit spam.  Spam is bulk unsolicited commercial e-mail and is primarily used to promote classic scams like appeals to send money to Nigeria, free vacations or cable TV, account verifications placed by identity thieves (phishing), sale of prescription drugs without a prescription, claims to enlarge sexual body parts, sales of large e-mail lists (which amount to creating additional spammers), quick (and/or easy) ways to get rich, lose weight, get an unsecured credit card or erase accurate negative information from a credit record.   Receiving such junk is nothing but an annoyance to most recipients.  Those who are naïve enough to respond almost always are victimized.    Per Fighting Spam for Dummies, 80% of all e-mail is spam; and spam costs $9.4 billion per year.

 

It is enough that we are bombarded daily with junk mail and telemarketing calls.  Receiving dozens of unsolicited commercial e-mails every day is too much of an invasion of privacy because it is too easy and costs so little for the sender to perform that it in essence shifts the sender’s cost of advertising to the Internet Service Providers that are burdened with the real cost of sending this junk. Experts say that spam is so plentiful that it slows down the speed of the entire Internet!

 

Contrary to what spammers contend, this is not an issue of censorship, rather it's a matter of stopping the deceptive and damaging business practice of shifting costs from where they belong (the spam advertiser) to ISPs.  Pressing the delete button is not an acceptable solution.  By the time spam arrives in an in-box, the costs to the ISPs have been incurred and the damage done.  Also spam makes it so cheap to advertise fraud, that those who are inclined to do so just can’t resist it.

 

Please give us legislation that requires an "opt-in," where individuals don't receive advertising they don't want, and don't have to fight to get themselves dislodged from mailing lists.   I strongly oppose "Opt-Out solutions" because those approaches do not require the advertisers to bear their own costs, and place far too much burden on e-mail users to delete far too many e-mails that are far too easily and inexpensively sent.  All too often “opt outs” are only used as a means of validating email addresses and actually result in the recipient getting more, rather than less spam.

 

Please amend 47 USC 227, the ban on junk faxes, to specifically include e-mail or pass a new law that would make spammers financially liable for every unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisement received by an unwilling recipient.  Only a requirement for opt-in, and a stiff and aggressively enforced penalty for violators will stop the tide of spam.  The European Union has banned spam.  The US Congress should do the same.  Thank you.

 

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Other on-line threats - these are all software programs that can enter you PC via CD's, DVD's, Flash cards, floppy disks, e-mails!, PC downloads and the Internet, if you don't have a firewall.  If you put something on your PC that is not from a well known company, like Microsoft, be suspicious.  For even more details on PC threats than this page, see the following website: www.onguardonline.com

 

Viruses- are malicious programs imbedded in innocent looking host programs.  Files with an "exe" extension are a common format.  Protection software:  Use McAfee, Symantec or Trend Micro Software protection programs.  Get them at a discounted price on eBay.  AGV is a free virus protection program from www.grisoft.com.  Some Internet Service Providers, such as Comcast, may provide free virus protection as part of a subscription price you already pay.  Check your ISP's website to find out.
 

Spyware and adware- Like viruses, these software programs enter your PC attached to innocent looking programs.  Downloads of "free" software are a common way of getting spyware/adware.  They transmit information about your Internet habits to companies that use the information for commercial purposes.   Protection programs: ad-aware at lavasoft.de, Microsoft antispyware.  webroot at webroot.com.  Because spyware and adware are difficult to detect, you may want to use 2 or more detection programs.
 

Phishing - is a fraudulent attempt to try to get you to disclose private information, such as passwords or account numbers, by posing as a convincing looking legitimate business website.  Typically an email will be sent to you telling you that you need to verify your account because of a suspected security issue.  When you log in to what you think is a bank, or a business, such as eBay or Paypal, you are actually logging in to an identity thief.  You should know that a hyperlink can show one address, but take you to another.  When you click on a link, notice the URL that appears at the bottom of your browser, because it could be different than the one displayed on your screen that you think you are going to.  To prevent phishing, be suspicious of logging into any site as the result of an e-mail.  Be sure it is a secure site, by checking for the "https" in the URL name and the icon of a lock in the system tray.  To avoid being a phishing victim- never click on a link provided in an e-mail you receive, even if the e-mail looks like it came from your bank or an organization you trust (a legitimate looking hyperlink can be spoofed)--instead--enter the website through your browser using the website address you know is legitimate.  Report violations to reportphishing@antiphishing.org, and to the business the phishing e-mail impersonates.  Phishing schemes regarding eBay, Paypal and financial institutions are common.  They often contain logos and graphics copied (stolen) from a legitimate business website, and can look very convincing.

Misleading hyperlinks -
 

Browser Pop-Ups - You can turn off these annoying ads in the tools menu of Microsoft Explorer.

 

A Firewall - protects your pc from spying by other PCs.  Windows comes with firewall protection.  To turn it on, select Network in the Control Panel, right click on it and choose properties, advanced.

 

Deleted PC files can be recovered - Files that have been deleted from your PC, even if they have been deleted from the recycle bin, can be recovered and read by a person with moderate PC knowledge and inexpensive software.  If you have data that is sensitive and want to be sure that others can’t read it, such as when you sell your old PC to another party… “wipe” the file using Eraser software (www.heidi.ie/eraser).

 

Drastic steps:

 

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