New Breed of Spam Clogging Inboxes Everywhere

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

Knoxville (WVLT) - You probably have the filters on your computer to keep from getting junk e-mail, but as technology advances, so do the efforts of spammers.

Apparently, spam has found a new way to get to you and as Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud explains, your firewalls and filters may not be able to stop it.

If your mailbox seems to constantly be over quota, filled with a bunch emails from people you don't know, you could be victim to the latest trend in spamming.

"Spammers are using graphics instead of text to put spam out," says VolunteerTV.com Editor Rich Sobolewski.

It's called "imagespam", a new breed of junk email that's fooling many spam detectors into thinking the email is from someone you know.

"Firewalls aren't pickup up the spam they are just seeing pictures thinking it's from one of your friends and it's going right through," Sobolewski explains.

The antispam industry seems to be having a hard time keeping it away, nine out of ten emails out there are spam and image spam accounts for anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of it.

So what can you do? Web experts say changing your password *isn't* the answer, instead you need to make sure you're signed up for a spyware program.

Once you've signed up, double check all your settings to make sure they are on, and then keep it updated, companies are constantly trying to win this image spam war, creating new software everyday.

Last, give your main email address only to people you want sending you messages, give the other one out when a company asks for your email or when you sign up for things.

But if you're still getting junk and accidentally open one of those un-familiar links or letters, experts say don't worry.

"Chances are if you click on an email, recognize you know it's spam, run your anti-virus software to be safe and you should be fine," Sobolewski says.

Some of the latest spam messages are promoting something called penny stocks, in which spammers buy inexpensive stock of an relatively unknown company and then send out messages trying to get you to jump onboard.

When enough people do, they sell their shares.

Protecting your Computer
Some pointers from VolunteerTV.com’s Editor

Invest in a good Antivirus Program and Firewall Program: Sure, you may drop $50 for the software, but it is a lot cheaper than having to deal with worms, viruses and identity theft. Many internet service providers (like Comcast and AOL) are now offering antivirus software free of charge with you subscription.

Update you Antivirus/Firewall Software Regularly: Security software companies create new updates daily. You should do this daily, but about once a week is still safe.

Update your Operating System Regularly: For most that’s Microsoft Windows (though some use Mac, Linux or others). You should check for updates when you check for Antivirus/Firewall updates. In the past six or so months Microsoft has put out several security updates, you should probably get them. Scratch that, you should DEFINITELY GET THEM! [Link goes to Microsoft Update site]

Back up your important information: If you keep important information on your computer, you should always make a back up copy that you can keep somewhere that is not connected to the computer, such as a CD, DVD, or removable hard drive.

Be Familiar with what is on Your Computer: If you know what is supposed to be on your computer, you will know what is not supposed to there.

Become more knowledgeable: If you have some spare time on the internet, try Googling (you can use which ever search engine you like, I like Google) some keyword like “Internet Security,” pretty soon you’ll have a good understanding of what’s going on in the digital world and people will be asking you for tips. [Link goes to Google.com]

Don’t be afraid to ask a professional: Most people have a computer expert at work and many stores that sell computers have people who can help you; after all that’s what they are getting paid for, right? The old adage is true: “There are no stupid questions!”


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