What Are the Dangers of Spam?

Spammers can send email that includes viruses, worms and Trojans that infect your computer. Not all viruses crash your computer, some are set up to spy on you when you are online. They can track what sites you visit and copy your username and passwords and send them back to the spammer/hacker. You are then left vulnerable to an even larger threat. Identity theft.

Some of these viruses attach themselves to your computer’s operating system and prevent you from removing them. They often work undetected and can only be removed by completely reinstalling the factory settings, or visiting your local computer guru.

The easiest way to stop spam is not to sign up for anything you don’t need. If you do need to sign up for something that requires an email address, use an alternate email address, so your primary email address stays as spam free as possible.

If you want to take things to the next level and get a secure email address from a company like Spam Arrest and the only email you’ll receive is from the members on your white list.

You can improve your email security even further with an encrypted email service like Pronton Mail; in addition to their Spam Filters, they have many advanced features to please even the most security conscious. The setup of all the advanced features can get very technical, though once it’s all set up correctly, it’s just as easy to use as any other web based email account.

How Are Companies Getting My Email Address?

A company can collect email addresses and forward them to affiliated partners. Here are some of the ways that companies are getting your email address.

Personal Homepages

Just about everyone has a homepage. Almost every internet service provider (ISP) offers you a place to put up your own website, but many people also include their contact information. This is not a good idea. Spiders are continually crawling the web and harvesting email addresses from websites that provide contact information.

Harvesting software searches the internet for the @ symbol. In searching for it, they recognize that this is likely an email address and therefore it leaves you open to receive their spam. By harvesting as many addresses as they can, spammers simply use the law of averages. The more email you send, the more responses you get.

Once you reply to spam, you announce that your email address is monitored and you’ll likely get even more spam. Then, spammer 1 sells your address to a network of other spammers and your inbox turns into a depository for penis enlargement and breast implant emails.

Registration Forms

Nearly all registration forms that you fill out can lead to spam. Sometimes there is a box that you can check if you do not wish to receive emails from the company or its affiliates. Unless you want to receive email from them, you should click the box. If you don’t get an option, you may want to forget the registration all together.

This registration spam also applies when you are registering a new piece of software. Many companies tell you that registering allows them to keep you informed of any product upgrades, but they also use it to send you advertising.

Contest Entries

An easy way for companies to get your email information is to post contests for things that you want to win. Of course, to enter, you must provide your email information so that they can notify you if you win. This also applies to gift offers and subscriptions.

Before signing up for a contest, check the company that is promoting it. Some of these contests are legitimate, and some of them are set up specifically to get your email address. It’s a really tricky business. The prize may not always be worth the amount of spam you receive.

Using a Password Service to Protect Your WordPress Site

It seems all we talk about is creating strong passwords and if you are like most people, you create a password that you thought was solid only to find out it is not. What’s the solution? Using a password service is a great way to create a strong password and protect your WordPress and other sites.

There are a number of these services – A few that come to mind are LastPass, Keeper and Dashlane’s password manager; in fact David Pogue of the NYT calls Dashlane’s password manager “life-changingly great”. You install the software on your computer and it will create these wild passwords that are up to 50 characters and really just look like gibberish. What’s even better is that it memorizes them for you, because there is no way you could remember these passwords. Then to keep all those passwords secure you use a master password. That way even if your passwords are stolen the hackers are going to need the master password.

A good master password needs to be strong – in fact it’s critical because all your other passwords lay in the balance of this. Follow as many password rules as you can and this one you need to memorize along with any passwords needed to access your computer.

You will need to be patient as it takes time to transition your entire life online to a password service. You’ll be surprised at just how often you use passwords. Think about it – every time you login somewhere you use a user ID and a password. Getting the system up and functioning completely can be a real challenge, but stick with it, because eventually you will be far more secure and have way less passwords to remember.

You should actually have a password service for your mobile devices and your desktop devices. These are different and will require two different downloads and if it’s a paid service two different purchases.

If you really want to boost your password security on WordPress use more than one password. Have a two factor authorization. This means that your login will require two parts of information. For example, your password and something you know. It provides an extra layer of protection in a number of applications including Twitter, Apple, Dropbox and Google.

Today is a good day to get started with your password service!

Phishing For Your Identity

Who hasn’t received an email directing them to visit a familiar website where they are being asked to update their personal information? The website needs you to verify or update your passwords, credit card numbers, social security number, or even your bank account number. You recognize the business name as one that you’ve conducted business with in the past. So, you click on the convenient “take me there” link and proceed to provide all the information they have requested. Unfortunately, you find out much later that the website is bogus. It was created with the sole intent to steal your personal information. You, my friend, have just been “phished”.

Phishing (pronounced as “fishing”) is defined as the act of sending an email to a recipient falsely claiming to have an established, legitimate business. The intent of the phisher is to scam the recipient into surrendering their private information, and ultimately steal your identity.

It is not at easy as you think to spot an email phishing for information. At first glance, the email may look like it is from a legitimate company. The “From” field of the e-mail may have the .com address of the company mentioned in the e-mail. The clickable link even appears to take you to the company’s website, when in fact, it is a fake website built to replicate the legitimate site.

Many of these people are professional criminals. They have spent a lot of time in creating emails that look authentic. Users need to review all emails requesting personal information carefully. When reviewing your email remember that the “From Field” can be easily changed by the sender. While it may look like it is coming from a .com you do business with, looks can be deceiving. Also keep in mind that the phisher will go all out in trying to make their email look as legitimate as possible. They will even copy logos or images from the official site to use in their emails. Finally, they like to include a clickable link that the recipient can follow to conveniently update their information. A great way to check the legitimacy of the link is to point at the link with your mouse. Then, look in the bottom left hand screen of your computer. The actual website address to which you are being directed will show up for you to view. It is a very quick and easy way to check if you are being directed to a legitimate site.

Finally, follow the golden rule. Never, ever, click the links within the text of the e-mail, and always delete the e-mail immediately. Once you have deleted the e-mail, empty the trash box in your e-mail accounts as well. If you are truly concerned that you are missing an important notice regarding one of your accounts, then type the full URL address of the website into your browser. At least then you can be confident that you are, in fact, being directed to the true and legitimate website.