Top Tips from 2006 to Avoiding Spam

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Here are a number of suggestions from McAfee that can help prevent your email address from becoming a target to spammers.

  • Do not post your e-mail address in an unobfuscated form on the Internet. If you need to post your e-mail address, obfuscate it so it cannot be easily harvested such as name at- hotmail dot- com, Or if you need to include your e-mail address in your signature, include a small graphic image containing your e-mail address.
  • Check to see if your e-mail address is visible to spammers by typing it into a Web search engine such as google. If your e-mail address is posted to any Web sites or newsgroups, remove it if possible to help reduce how much spam you receive.
  • Lots of ISPs provide free e-mail addresses. Set up two e-mail addresses, one for personal e-mail to friends and colleagues, and use the other for subscribing to newsletters or posting on forums and other public locations. If you have a more complex e-mail address, it is less likely to receive spam than one that could be easily dictionary-attacked. Many ISPs also offer free spam filtering. If this is available, enable it.
  • Report missed spam to your ISP, as it helps reduce how much spam you and other members of the same ISP receive. If your ISP does not offer spam filtering, use anti-spam software to reduce the amount of spam delivered to your inbox.
  • When replying to newsgroup postings, do not include your e-mail address.
  • When filling in Web forms, check the site's privacy policy to ensure it will not be sold or passed on to other companies. There may be a checkbox to opt out of third party mailings. Consider opting out to receive less opt-in e-mail.
  • Never respond to spam. If you reply, even to request removing your e-mail address from the mailing list, you are confirming that your e-mail address is valid and the spam has been successfully delivered to your inbox, not filtered by a spam filter, that you opened the message, read the contents, and responded to the spammer.
  • Lists of confirmed e-mail addresses are more valuable to spammers than unconfirmed lists, and they are frequently bought and sold by spammers.
  • Do not open spam messages wherever possible. Frequently spam messages include "Web beacons" enabling the spammer to determine how many, or which e-mail addresses have received and opened the message. Or use an e-mail client that does not automatically load remote graphic images, such as the most recent versions of Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Do not click on the links in spam messages, including unsubscribe links. These frequently contain a code that identifies the e-mail address of the recipient, and can confirm the spam has been delivered and that you responded. Never buy any goods from spammers. The spammers rely on very small percentages of people responding to spam and buying goods. If spamming becomes unprofitable and takes lots of effort for little return, spammers have less incentive to continue spamming.
  • Would you risk giving your credit card details to an unknown, unreputable source? If you have an e-mail address that receives a very large amount of spam, consider replacing it with a new address and informing your contacts of the new address. Once you are on lots of spammers' mailing lists, it is likely that the address will receive more and more spam.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date. Many viruses and Trojans scan the hard disk for e-mail addresses to send spam and viruses.
  • Avoid spamming your colleagues by keeping your anti-virus software up to date.
  • Use the firewall included with your operating system, or use a firewall from a reputable company, to avoid your computer being hacked or infected with a worm and used as a spam-sending zombie.
  • Do not respond to e-mail requests to validate or confirm any of your account details. Your bank, credit card company, eBay, Paypal, etc., already have your account details, so would not need you to validate them. If you are unsure if a request for personal information from a company is legitimate, contact the company directly or type the Web site URL directly into your browser.
  • Do not click on the links in the e-mail, as they may be fake links to phishing Web sites.
  • Do not click on unusual links.
  • Confirm the sender did send the e-mail if it looks suspicious.
  • Never give out your login details to anyone. IT departments should train their users not to give out sensitive information.

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