Protect Yourself From Spam

October 21, 2008 by Derek Vaughan

If there is one online problem that is absolutely universal it is unsolicited email, also know as spam. Anyone who has ever owned an email account has seen countless variations of the same themes over and over. Are you familiar with the `Nigerian Letter` fraud (also known as the `419` fraud)? It was actually a bit more popular a few years ago when it was somewhat fresh. It is so incredibly prevalant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation actually warns about it on FBI.gov website section on Fraud Schemes. According to the website, the email fraud goes something like this (like I said, there are countless variations):

``Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, mailed from Nigeria, offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria. The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationery, bank name and account numbers and other identifying information using a facsimile number provided in the letter. Some of these letters have also been received via E-mail through the Internet. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a "propensity for larceny" by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

``Of course we have all seen the millions of messages about diet supplements and `male enhancers`. Though we may see a bit fewer of these as the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently announced the prosecution of what was considered to be the world`s largest spam operation. According to the published reports, the spam ring was responsible for up to one third of all spam messages being sent out. The topics? The messages sent by the spammers advertised the sale of prescription drugs, and claimed that they originated from a ``bona-fide, U.S.-licensed pharmacy that dispenses FDA-approved generic versions of drugs such as Levitra, Avodart, Cialis, Propecia, Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex and Zoloft.`` FTC investigators claim that the defendants do not run a licensed pharmacy and the drugs they sold were shipped from India and received no federal approval from any regulated food or drug agency.

So how to protect yourself against spam? HostSearch.com queried top experts on the subject form web hosting firms and antispam software companies. Here are their suggestions.

With regard to the Nigerian Letter Scam mentioned above, the FBI suggests, ``If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission`s Consumer Sentinel.``

Daniel Foster, cofounder of website hosting firm 34sp.com suggests, ``Make sure your antivirus and antispam software is up to date and kept current. You should also have an email package which includes spam and virus filtering from your provider, so that you never end up getting spam in the first place. For unwanted e-mails from known contacts, most e-mail clients support blacklisting. This will allow you to add the sender`s address to a list and will stop you receiving any e-mail from them.``  
George Roberts is the founder of web hosting trade show, HostingCon and CEO at Interjuncture Corp., which provides the Easy Antispam email protection service. Mr. Roberts had these ideas for protecting yourself from spam, ``One of the easiest things to do to reduce the amount of spam you receive is to not publish your email address publicly on the web. Many spammers scrape email addresses from websites to include in their database. In my view, it`s best to let an email security service provider block all unwanted mail before it even hits your network.``

As far as emails that look legitimate but may originate from a malicious source Mr. Roberts continued, ``The best way to protect yourself against spoof and phishing emails is to not click links directly from emails. It is much better to go directly to the website of the business purportedly sending the email to determine whether the message sent was legitimate.``

Hans Kind, CEO with FlyingServers International and an expert in web hosting and online security suggested, ``Use a good spam filter, either software or hardware based. Protect your e-mail address by not providing an email address on any user forums or other online community sites. If you need to provide a valid email address, either use a non-business email address, or if you are able to create multiple email addresses, create a specific email address for that forum or community.``

Remember to be wary of emails coming from any source that you are not fully familiar with - and also, it`s a pretty good bet that you haven`t miraculously been singled out to receive millions of dollars for nothing anyway.

This content was written by Derek Vaughan and appears courtesy of the Wordpress hosting experts at 34sp.com.


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