The spam equation
Many of the anti-spam precautions seem obvious -- but, obviously, everyone isn't taking them. The good news? The number of people still gullible is small. A recent University of California study (PDF) suggests only one in every 12.5 million spam messages gets a response.
The bad news? That tiny percentage is enough to generate $7,000 a day, or $3.5 million a year, for a decent-sized spam network, the study says. What's more, the activity could add as many as 8,500 new bots into the spam network every 24 hours.
While we'd love to track down those imbeciles actually ordering stuff from spam -- if you're one of them, please leave a comment below with your contact information -- the more realistic action is just to spend a few minutes talking about proper cyberprotection. So, if you're confident in your spam-fighting abilities, relax and enjoy a complimentary pumpkin muffin.* Otherwise, read on and reinforce your knowledge.
*Complimentary pumpkin muffins available only for PC World staff
Your spam protection plan
• Thinking about responding to an unsolicited message? Maybe a pleasant request to be removed from the list? Don't. End of story.
• The same goes for "delivery failure" messages. If you don't remember sending the message being referenced, hit delete and move on.
• Avoid giving out your primary e-mail address on any forum or blog site that you don't absolutely trust. Set up a secondary "junk" account for public distribution instead.
• Similarly, don't post your primary e-mail address on your own blog or Web site. Bots will find it and add you to their lists.
• Never send money, either for a purchase or donation, to any entity you learned about through an unsolicited message.
• This is old, but it still hasn't hit home for some folks: DON'T CLICK ON LINKS IN UNSOLICITED E-MAILS. If a message from your bank tells you to click to confirm your account, ignore it. Open up your browser and type in the bank's legit URL manually, then see if there's any real issue to be addressed.
Simple enough? I thought so. And, not to leave anyone out, we've arranged to commend your continued reading with a warm cinnamon sticky bun, on the house.** You're a strong soldier in the war against spam, dear friend. Welcome to the team.
**Warm cinnamon sticky bun offer valid only for the writer of this article.
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