McAfee helps users fight spam in 2007

Security software vendor McAfee has published a list of suggestions that it believes will help users keep their ‘No or Less Spam’ New Year resolutions.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  January 14, 2007

Security software vendor McAfee has published a list of suggestions that it believes will help users keep their ‘No or Less Spam’ New Year resolutions. In order for internet users to prevent their e-mail address becoming a spam target, the company recommends people the following tips: * Never respond to spam. Even if you simply request the removal of your e-mail address from a mailing list, you are confirming that this e-mail address is valid and that spam was successfully delivered to your inbox. Lists of confirmed e-mail addresses are more valuable to spammers than unconfirmed lists, and are subsequently bought and sold for further use by spammers. * Check to see whether or not your e-mail address is visible to spammers by typing it into a web search engine. If your e-mail address is posted on any web sites or newsgroups, remove it possible to help reduce how much spam you receive. * Disable in-line images or simply don’t open spam messages. Spam messages frequently include so-called ‘web beacons’, which enable spammers to determine how many, or which, e-mail addresses have received and opened a message. (Most current e-mail programs disable in-line images by default to prevent this from occurring.) * Do not click on the links in spam messages, including unsubscribe links. These frequently contain code that identifies the e-mail address of the recipient and again can confirm the spam has been delivered and that you responded. * When unsubscribing from e-mail, the main rule to follow is this: if you didn’t originally opt-in to receive it, or if you don’t recognise the sender or firm sending the e-mail, then you shouldn’t unsubscribe. Trying to unsubscribe from one e-mail can start a flood of mail from other sources, so if you are unsure it is best not to unsubscribe and block the mail another way (i.e. by using Gmail or Hotmail’s ‘report spam’ features). When unsubscribing, always check that the link in the e-mail heads to the correct company website and not a ‘phishing’ site. * When filling out web forms, check the site’s privacy policy to ensure your data won’t be sold or passed on to other companies. There may also be a checkbox to opt out of third party mailings. Check it! * Never respond to e-mail requests to validate or confirm any of your account details. Your bank, credit card company etc. already have your account details and 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 website 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.) * If you have an e-mail address that receives a 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. * Set up two e-mail addresses, one for personal e-mail to friends and colleagues, and another 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. “Most spam is recognisable without even opening it,” said Patrick Hayati, the regional director of McAfee Middle East. “The e-mail might come from someone you don’t know and be about something you’re not expecting. For example, it might offer fake degrees, prescription drugs, or be promoting a money making program.” Hayati added that the best way for users to stop receiving spam in the first place is to buy anti-spam software to block it, or discard their e-mail addresses entirely and start using new ones.

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