By Niall Roche
Anybody reading this article is no doubt very familiar with the issue that we've all come to know and hate - spam. It's become part of your life to receive dozens or even hundreds of pieces of spam every day. People react differently to spam though. There are those who can just patiently delete each of these pieces of junk each day. For others, however, the issue of dealing with an inbox full of junk email goes beyong mere frustration - it can even lead to anger.
It's time to wake up to the problem folks. What was once an annoyance has now become a real threat to you. Those junk email messages are no longer just annoying adverts. The latest wave of spam presents a far more worrying personal and financial danger than most computer and Internet users are even close to realizing. Organized crime has now gone online and spam is one of their favourite ways of ripping you off and funding their other illegal businesses. They have no interest in selling you anything. No. Their interest lies in stealing what you have and maybe even implicating you in some of their online crime.
Are you ready to learn what dangers lurk inside your inbox? It's important that you become fully familiar with the threats you need to watch out for. How well you can deal with each of these threats will depend very much on whether or not your PC is fully protected against them. All computers that connect to the Internet should be protected with both firewall and virus protection software. If you're not using both of these then now is as good a time as any to invest in them. You cannot have a safe online existence without them. Now let's look at the threats.
Viruses: One of oldest and most common computer security threats viruses are as "popular" today as they ever have been. No computer user takes viruses seriously until their PC is infected with one and then the panic starts. Movies lead computer users to believe that a virus will announce itself and warn them they have 24 hours to try and fix the problem. That's utter rubbish. Viruses do their absolute best to sneak onto your computer without being noticed. For example you get an email saying you've won a free screensaver for your computer. You click on the link to download the files and you now have at least one virus infection - most probably a trojan virus. This type of virus can destroy data, steal passwords or just download piles of other nasty software onto your computer that will cause more harm.
Phishing: Viruses are a concern but phising is a real worry. Phishing is the use of social engineering to entice you to release highly personal and volatile information. Example of this would be disclosing your social security numbers, passwords or even credit card details. How do they go about this? Quite easily. You'll receive an email that seems to come from companies like Chase Manhattan, Ebay or Paypal saying that your password has been hacked, you need to update your account details or some other such message. There's a link in the email that will bring you to a page where you can resolve the problem mentioned in the email. The webpage will look and feel exactly like the companies homepage but once you type in your personal details the spammer now has those details and can log into your account and do whateve they want. You've just become a victim of phishing and potentially identity theft.
Hopefully now you're more aware of the threats that can linger in your email. A virus can hide itself in a picture, video or audio file. Phishing is becoming incredibly sophisticated. If you're using firewall and antivirus software then you've reduced the threat by at least 90%. If you're not using these types of software then you need to invest in them today - before disaster does finally strike.