Conscientious web users need to protect themselves from spam scams that can waste their time, steal personal information, and turn their computers into “zombies” spewing more spam throughout the Internet.
Spam methods change quickly and what was popular last month may be outdated next month. A popular one today is “greeting card spam” when someone you do not know sends you an e-greeting card. To read it you have to download a special program which could contain code would compromise your system. An insidious version of this spam scam is to use information on the web, such as at MySpace.com, to find your friends and use their name to send the card. Be very careful before downloading any program.
Stock market “pump and dump” schemes are also popular today. A spammer will buy a penny stock and then send millions of emails “pumping” the stock. If only a few people buy the stock then it will go up and the spammer will “dump” and take a profit. If you get unsolicited information that seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
To protect yourself you use up up to date anti-virus software that has the latest virus information. You should avoid clicking on links in emails but rather type in the complete URL since what you see in the email may not be where you end up. Keep your financial and other confidential information on a flash drive and only connect it when you need to access the information. Do not fall for schemes. Use common sense.