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Spam, from me - you ARE joking!

Have YOU been told that you have SENT SCAM e-mails?

Just in case you are not aware - there are few obstacles to hackers sending e-mails which purport to have been sent from you but the focus of these pages is much more sinister - imagine the problem when they are sent TO your friends! As you may hope - when friends receive an e-mail from you - they expect it to be both genuine and free of malware!

If a friend of yours HAS alerted you to having received a Scam e-mail from you then hopefully they have told you some details or even forwarded a copy of the e-mail to you - although that may be blocked by the hacker - see below!

Currently a typical scam e-mail sent to "friends" has:

  1. a valid sender with all of the person's normal signature and style
  2. been sent to a subset of people from the sender's address book
  3. an urgent request for assistance - usually money transfer but could be a premium rate number to be called or other method of getting cash from recipients
  4. a lack of the sender's usual salutation and general introduction to the rest of the e-mail - that can be mistaken as a consequence of the urgency to respond

How to stop malicious e-mails being sent in your name

Often the spammers get access to your address book either from your PC or from your ISP's webmail system such as BT/Yahoo, Hotmail, Googlemail etc.. They may also have your id and password so can log on as you. They could have also diverted any e-mails sent to your address to go to them.

Do the following, only numbered for mutual ease of reference:

  1. Update your AV and do a complete scan of your system
  2. If the malware has been identified, then possibly download a specific removal tool for that virus
  3. More commonly these days, the address book has been captured from your online system; it is possible that the spammers have captured your id and password so you should log on and change your password.
  4. Report situation to ISP who may be able to recover your address book and secure your id and password if you have failed.
  5. Keep a back-up copy of your address book for any future occurrences.

How to reduce chances of any future occurrences

  • We strongly recommend NOT accessing e-mail systems in a web browser unless you dedicate a separate browser (not just window or tab!) to e-mail

    but - IF YOU DO then you must: close all other windows and tabs and open no new windows or tabs - especially from within e-mails!

  • Do not rely on common providers like Hotmail, BT Yahoo, AOL, etc. as they are always targets and obviously - at times - weak!
  • Use your own domain to (a) make you a much, much smaller target and the added advantage that you are then not tied to a Broadband provider
  • With your own domain, it is possible to allocate different e-mails addresses for different organisations so that if spam is sent to the alias you have given them you can block it and allocate them a new one.

    With mail clients like Thunderbird you can then also extend this to individuals as well. Recently in my experience most spam e-mails have come from the problem discussed above.

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