1. There is money to be made in spam. The goal of the spam racketeers: crack your passcodes, dig into your credit card and bank account information and sell it to third parties. The method: set up zombie “spam host” computers all over the world that will send virus-laden spam emails. The viruses will then burrow through your security layers and trace your every move and keystroke. In fact, your computer could be functioning as a spam host right now. Why is that fairly devastating? Because you could end up on a spam blacklist tomorrow… and as an internet marketer, the last thing you need is a tainted IP address, ticking people off with unwanted spam that you had no idea you sent!
2. Spammers transmit viruses via files and links. The purpose of a virus might be, a. to destroy your system “for sport,” or b. to hack in and gain access to your files and personal information. If you open emails from parties whom you don’t know and start clicking and downloading things, there’s a good chance you’ll infect your machine. The evil doesn’t even have to come from email. It could be lurking in a harmless, fun little celebrity clip you wanted to download. Spammers play those kinds of tricks.
3. Spammers often lead double lives as… surprise… programmers. This is why internet security is never really “up to date”. Spammers hack and crack the old code, render it obsolete with nifty programming tricks, and force the purveyors of such technology to develop new methods of protection and charge their clients more money to upgrade. Imagine for a minute how much cash can be made from living a Dr.-Jeckyl-Mr.-Hyde spammer/programmer playing-both-sides-of-the-coin existence. It’s almost… criminal. Wait, no, it IS criminal!
4. Spammers can hack your system via social networking software. It’s as simple as connecting when you’re connecting, typing in a few commands and gaining instant access to your machine. Again, the motive is typically identity theft. A spammer might have himself a fine old time dipping into your bank account every now and again. If he’s logging in as you, who would know?
5. Spammers are not mentally challenged, as their spelling would have them appear. They spell words incorrectly on purpose to get around the various spam blocking devices in your email and on your server. It obviously works, or you wouldn’t get so much spam.
6. Spammers can invade your privacy with a dirty little tool called a keylogger. Once they gain access, they download a program that monitors and records exactly what you’re typing – including YOUR PASSWORDS. You can bypass a keylogger with an anti-keylogger, but if you’re resorting to that you’ve likely got some other issues that need emergency attention anyway.
Now that you know the stark truth, what will you do to protect yourself? Read on for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are Five “Stupid User Tricks” You Can Use to Thwart the Evil Trojan Horse and Other Unwelcome Visits from Spammers
1. Run a firewall program. It doesn’t have to be whatever high-priced breakthrough bells-and-whistles technology Bill Gates is putting out. Your firewall can be one of the freeware programs put out by any one of a number of trusted internet security experts. Make sure your firewall is of course current, and stays engaged and active in the background as you’re working. Your firewall won’t do you much good just sitting there in “off” mode, taking up space on your hard drive.
2. Never view your Microsoft Outlook in the “preview pane.” Here, the innards of your email take mere seconds to become exposed. Next thing you know, YOU’ve been exposed.
3. Don’t set your file download preferences to “automatic download” – you might as well put down a welcome mat for hackers. Even if you’re Quick Draw McGraw and never let funny emails get by you, there’s always the slight chance of that one slip-up where your wrist lurches forward, the email pops open and suddenly you’re downloading the demon seed and sealing your own demise.
4. Don’t talk to e-strangers. No kidding – online networking has become yet another way for the evil spammer to maraud as an innocent party who just wants to be your new pal, when really he wants to ogle your PayPal. If you meet up with potential customers on the internet, make sure that you speak to them on the phone or in person before conducting any business.
5. Don’t EVER download executable files. Executable files end in .exe. These are program files, which are what spammers use to worm their way in and wreck your system and your life. Don’t download them from email, don’t download them from a random website that you think looks cool, and don’t download them from your “virtual buddies.” And especially, don’t download an .exe file if your friend sends one in the form of “a really funny email forward.” Spam = Not Remotely Funny.
6. Control-Alt-Delete or pull the plug. If you hear unearthly groans emanating from your machine after visiting a new website or opening a suspicious email, something’s afoot and it’s most likely a Trojan Horse. Do a control-Alt-Delete and view what’s running. If it looks strange, hit Control-Alt-Del again and restart. Or, simply PULL THE PLUG to halt the invader — then get that firewall going, like I told you to, dang it!
7. Run anti-spyware and anti-virus regularly. There are plenty of freeware programs for these purposes available on the internet. Do your homework, learn which ones are the most reputable, get your layers of protection in place and then make sure you clean house regularly.
8. Change your passwords every so often. If someone hacked your machine at one point but you wiped him out with your handy Trojan Horse eradicator, that’s super. However, if he still has your passwords? Not so great. And definitely do not use your pet’s name as your password and then go on six different user groups and start yapping to everyone in the free world about what that old rascal, Muffy the Cat, did again today.
9. Don’t use online banking services. Just don’t.
10. Send your ezine through a secure autoreponder system. NEVER send your email newsletter mailings from the email program on your personal computer. All that a spammer has to do is subscribe to your list and give himself permission to send you offensive mail anytime. Don’t set up one of those free PHP forms to collect subscribers, either. You’re setting yourself as a prime target to be hacked and have your server infiltrated. Next thing you know, you’re one cooked goose, and all because you took the low-budget route. Not smart!
I wrote this because I don’t want you making the same mistakes as a web business owner that I did. I hope it comes in handy for you.
Copyright 2006 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
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