11/10 - Spam attack! Guard your e-mail address with your life - East Valley Tribune: Business

11/10 - Spam attack! Guard your e-mail address with your life

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Posted: Monday, November 10, 2003 8:30 am | Updated: 2:05 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Q: I clicked on some group lotto thing and entered info to get into some lottery thing. I specifically did not check the boxes asking if I wanted advertisements sent to my e-mail.

Needless to say, I now receive about 500 junk e-mails a day. Is there any way to stop them from coming other than clicking on the unsubscribe boxes on each e-mail? - Jodie

A: "How do I spam thee? Let me count the ways!

I spam thee to the depth and breadth and height

My verified spam list can reach . . .

I shall spam thee to death!"

This is the creed by which all spammers live, and, unfortunately you made a series of mistakes that has pretty much tainted your current e-mail address to the point of no return.

The first mistake that you made was falling for any kind of "lottery thing" that a Web site offers. Most, if not all, are simply scams to get you to divulge your precious e-mail address (which you did) so that they can sell it to spammers.

If you think that the scum of the Internet is going to let you opt-out of being a massmailing victim, your newness to the Web is showing. They pay no attention to the individuals who say they don’t want to be bothered and in fact use this method to "verify" your address to include it in the verified lists that they sell.

Clicking on the "unsubscribe" boxes or links in a message simply adds insult to injury. On messages that you never asked for in the first place, replying in any way is a guaranteed method for your email address to be propagated to lots of other spammers.

At this point, you have inadvertently advertised your current e-mail address too many times and to too many malicious groups (in reality, all it takes is one). I would highly recommend you go through the pain of changing your address and learning how to protect your new address.

Once you get a new address in place and sent to those that should have it, I suggest that you do the following in the future:

• Don’t be so gullible — The Internet is loaded with those that take advantage of uninitiat ed users. Visit Web resources such as www.scam busters.org that will help you better understand the common tactics used by these operators.

• Get a second "throwaway" e-mail address — Everyone should have at least two e-mail addresses: One they safeguard from all but the most trusted users and one that they use for everyone else. You can get free e-mail accounts from places like mail.Yahoo.com and Hotmail.com. When the spam becomes too much to handle, simply kill the address and create a new one.

• Don’t give out real addresses unless it’s necessary — Many Web sites will ask you for an e-mail address, but often times you can insert a completely invalid address and still gain access to the content. Don’t even use your "throwaway" address unless it’s necessary, or you will be throwing it away often.

• Don’t unsubscribe from anything that you did not personally subscribe to in the first place — Those of us who operate legitimate "opt-in" lists conform to what are considered industry standards for subscribing and unsubscribing. If, for instance, you wanted to receive my free weekly newsletter, you must go to our Web site and type your e-mail address into a form that we have posted for subscribing. You will then be sent an e-mail message asking you to verify that you truly wanted to be on the list. Only then will you start receiving our newsletters, which will all have the steps for being removed from the list as well.

If you can’t remember whether you signed up for something or not, don’t unsubscribe or reply to a message asking to be removed until you do a little investigating.

Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the "Computer Corner" radio show at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR (620 AM) and the "Tech No Phobia" television show at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Cox 9. Readers may send questions to datadr@aztrib.com.

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