According to this Consumer Reports article:
Too many consumers’ defenses are down. Twenty percent of the households surveyed didn’t have antivirus software installed. Thirty-five percent didn’t use software to block or remove spyware. And consumers in roughly 795,000 households continued to buy products advertised through spam. Most homes had a firewall installed to block hackers. Still, based on our findings, we project that about 2.4 million U.S. households with broadband, who are hackers’ prime targets, remain unprotected by a firewall.
Thing Number 1:
If you are one of the people in one of the 795,000 households I have a question for you:
What the heck are you thinking? (This, mind you, is the edited version, after counting to 10 (and actually after even more editing)...).
You actually pay money to people who send you unsolicited email for their products and/or services? Did you get what you paid for? If not, were you too embarassed to report it?
Here's the simple truth: people that purchase items advertised (and I use the word "advertised" here extremely loosely) in Spam are the problem - not the spammers themselves. If you stop feeding them, they will go away!
Not everyone is computer- or web-savvy. That's ok. There's no test you must pass before you purchase or own a PC and obtain internet access - and I don't think there should be. The internet is a wonderful thing. But like all wonderful things, it can be abused. And it is being abused by people who are taking advantage of those less computer- and web-savvy than themselves.
Here's a few simple rules I follow regarding email:
1. If you don't know who the email is from, don't open it - period. It may contain some really important information, but if it's really that important, someone will follow up with a call.
2. If you know who the email is from and it contains an unexpected attachment, don't open it. You can always email the person who sent it to you and ask them if they sent you an email with an attachment.
3. If curiosity is just eating you alive and you cannot take it and you just have to see the picture the email subject states is attached just in case it's real and not botware that will turn your broadband connection into a denial-of-service attack in the name of some holy cause or other, please see item 2 above.
4. Never ever ever (ever) buy anything advertised (again, using the term loosely) in an unsolicited email. By unsolicited I mean an email that arrived in your email inbox through no action of your own. If you must have the item, please buy it somewhere else - even if it costs more. Trust me, you're doing us all - and probably yourself - a great service.
Thing Number 2:
There are lots of good antivirus software packages out there. AVG will allow you to download a free (as in beer) version of their software "for private, non-commercial, single home computer use only." This means you can download it and install it legally on your home computer for free. If you're in the 20 percent of households without antivirus software, please visit this link immediately.
Thing Number 3:
If you're part of the 35 percent of households that don't use antispyware software, and if you run a Windows operating system, you can download Windows Defender here. Spyware can do lots of nasty things - you need to protect yourself. Windows is particularly vulnerable because it runs on the majority of desktops on the planet (not necessarily because it's less secure... a topic for another blog entry, perhaps...).
Thing Number 4:
Apologies for the tone at the start of this blog entry. Nothing torques me more than this sort of abuse of people and technology. And this entry discusses bad people using technology to abuse others!
Thing Number 5:
If you send a link to this post to everyone in your address book, something wonderful will happen to you during the next week. ;) (... definitely a topic for another blog entry...)
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