Broadly categorized, spam includes unsolicited advertisements, hoaxes and proliferation of malicious software – malware. The inconvenience and danger to the user is increased by the fact that the costs of sending email are next to zero, and authors of spam have many tools and sources available to acquire new email addresses. In addition, the volume and variety of spam makes it very difficult to regulate. The longer you use your email address, the higher the possibility of it ending up in a spam engine database.
Some hints for prevention:
- If possible, don't publish your email address on the Internet
- Only give your email address to trusted individuals
- If possible, don't use common aliases – with more complicated aliases, the probability of tracking is lower
- Don't reply to spam messages which have already made it into your inbox
- Be careful when filling out Internet forms - especially beware of check boxes such as "Yes, I want to receive information about ... in my inbox."
- Use specialized email addresses – e.g., one for your work, one for communication with your friends, one for online purchases, etc.
- From time to time, change your email address
- Use an antispam solution such as ESET Smart Security's Antispam module.
However, many companies send unsolicited bulk commercial messages. In these cases, email advertising crosses the line and becomes spam. The amount of unsolicited commercial email has become a serious problem, and shows no signs of abating. Use of the ESET Smart Security Antispam module is an essential aspect of protecting your email address from spam messages.
Computer Virus hoaxes try to generate fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in the recipients, bringing them to believe that there is an 'undetectable virus' deleting files and retrieving passwords, or performing some other harmful activity on their system.
Some hoaxes are meant to cause emotional embarrassment to others. Recipients are usually asked to forward such messages to all their contacts, which perpetuates the life-cycle of the hoax. There are mobile phone hoaxes, pleas for help, people offering to send you money from abroad, etc. In most cases it is impossible to track down the intent of the creator.
In principle, if you see a message prompting you to forward it to everyone you know, it may very well be a hoax. There are many specialized web sites on the internet which can verify whether an email is legitimate or not. Before forwarding, perform an internet search on any message you suspect of being a hoax.
The email can look very genuine, and will contain graphics and content which may have originally come from the source that it is impersonating. You will be asked to enter, under various pretenses (data verification, financial operations), some of your personal data – bank account numbers or usernames and passwords. All such data, if submitted, can easily be stolen and misused.
It should be noted that banks, insurance companies, and other legitimate companies will never request usernames and passwords in an unsolicited email