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Protect Yourself and Others - Spam, Phishing, and Spyware
Here are some tips for avoiding spam, phishing, and spyware.
Definitions of Spam, Phishing, and Spyware
- Obvious spam: Obvious unsolicited sales pitches, may take the form of appearing like a service you would want, or pharmaceuticals.
- Phishing: Spam that will try to extract personally identifiable information from you such as a login and password or an account number.
- Spyware: Possible Unwanted Programs that can install by itself or by appearing to be part of an install of a wanted application. This software can cause identity theft and cause your computer to run in a slow state.
Key Tips to Avoid Spam
- Don't reply to spam or click on its "unsubscribe" link. This tells them they have a valid e-mail address.
- Disable the preview pane in your e-mail client.
- Use one e-mail address for family and friends, one for business, and another for everyone else.
- Don't post your e-mail address in its normal form on a publicly accessible Web page.
- Don't open the message if you don't know who it's from: delete it.
- Keep your antimalware software current and up to date with patches.
Six Ways to Outwit ID Thieves "Phishers"
- Never directly respond to an e-mail asking for personal information such as log in name and password.
- If you doubt the authenticity of a message, verify it by contacting the sender. Send a separate e-mail or call the sender.
- Avoid spoofed sites by entering the Web address directly into your browser's address bar or by using bookmarks you create.
- Make sure the Web site is secure; look for a lock that is in a closed position; it can be found in bottom right of your monitor's screen.
- The URL address bar should start with www.XXXXX.XXX. This states the Web site is using and encryption method to protect the data on the Web site and the data entered into the Web site.
Spyware: What is it?
- Primarily used for gathering demographic information.
- Often piggybacks on "innocent" downloads of software from websites bundled with "free" software.
- Can be used for fraudulent purposes.
- Can control browser's home page, pop-up ads, redirect you to different Web sites.
- Can slow computer's performance and cause system and software crashes.
Avoiding Sneaky Spyware
- Download and install software only from trusted sources.
- When installing software, read the End User License Agreement (EULA).
- When going through the install process, do not just click OK, read what the installer is telling you it will install, some legitimate free programs will also install spyware as part of an agreement for sponsorship, install only the application you wish to install and not the piggyback applications.