Computer Viruses and Spam

Computer viruses and Spam are discussed together in section because they are related problems - both are unwanted and unsolicited intrusions, and both can be serious threats to your computer and even to your business.

See Virus and Spam Filtering for more details on the impact viruses and spam have on business today.

Computer Viruses

A virus is a program that  automatically copies itself, thereby "infecting" other computers without the user knowing it. They are typically designed to replicate by broadcasting themselves through your email program and often change or destroy computer data. Sometimes they are a simple prank, such as an annoying pop-up message on a certain day, but too often, they are a malicious attempt to damage your data and programs.

Closely related to viruses are Trojan Horses, which are files that claim to be something desirable but, in fact, are malicious.  Trojans contain malicious code that damages data and sometimes even steals and transmits your data and personal information. Trojans are activated when you bring the program into your computer - for example, by opening an email attachment or downloading and running a file from the Internet. 

Do I really need to worry about computer viruses?

Absolutely!  Viruses are a serious threat to your computer and your business that simply cannot be ignored.  Security experts estimate that one in every 300 emails sent is infected by a virus. So if you don't take action to protect yourself, you will most likely find yourself with a computer virus

  Computer viruses do more than just put your computer at risk - they can even put your business at risk. Without virus protection, you can easily pass on viruses to your clients, which can seriously harm your customer relations. If you are using email, you simply must have virus protection. However, as new viruses arise and evolve on a daily basis, the job of keeping your virus protection current and functional becomes increasingly time-consuming and expensive. And many popular anti-virus programs simply don't catch email viruses effectively. 

SPAM

Spam is slang for unsolicited email - the equivalent to junk mail you receive in your mailbox, but more prevalent, largely because it costs the sender virtually nothing to send it out.

Spam is not as much of a risk as viruses, but it is a growing problem that wastes both time and resources. In fact, it has recently been reported that 10% of incoming email is unsolicited email, and that proportion is growing. A recent study has concluded that the cost to US businesses alone exceeds $AU 15 million per year! Not only is Spam expensive, but also typically inappropriate, fraudulent and often offensive. Spam protection is therefore another important aspect of managing your email communications that you can't ignore. 

What's the solution? 

Virus and Spam senders get more sophisticated all of the time.  To protect yourself, you need automated protection and good internet and email habits. 

Voice Virus and Spam Protection

Your best protection is Voice Virus and Spam Protection. For just a few dollars per month-a fraction of the cost of most anti-virus and Spam protection programs-we will automatically scan all incoming and outgoing email, maintaining and updating our virus and Spam database on a continual basis. You don't have to buy or maintain any software at all. We do it all for you.

Good internet and email practices

In addition to Voice's SPAM and Virus Protection, you should also adopt good anti-Spam and anti-virus practices. Here are a few noteworthy suggestions:

  • Be very careful about where you give out your email address. Only give it out to friends and business associates. Once your email address gets on spammer mailing lists, you will be inundated with SPAM.

  • Never give out your email address on web sites. Many require an email address to access the site or download something. If you must enter an email address, set up a separate email address. Set up a web-based email account on hotmail.com (which isn't good for anything but Spam anyway) or some other web based email service.

  • Keep your real email address away from, chat rooms, mail lists and newsgroups.

  • Never respond to Spam, or purchase anything from a spammer, even if it is a product that interests you. Spam is not a legitimate way of conducting business, so you are likely to be defrauded.

  • Be very cautious about opening email attachments, even from someone you know. Remember that many viruses will come from someone you know. If you are suspicious, email back and ask the sender about the attachment.

  • Don't respond to emails requesting that you forward the message, even if it promises money. These are almost always hoaxes used by spammers to collect new active email addresses.

  • Online petitions are generally a waste of time, because they never get read by the intended recipient. Most politicians and activists will tell you that email petitions are totally ignored.

  • If you are sending an email address to a group of people, place the multiple addresses in the BCC address field. This hides their email addresses from other recipients. Request that others do the same when sending emails to you.

  • When forwarding emails to groups of people, send them via the BCC field, this shields their address from others. Ask others to send emails to you this way too.

  • When you receive email from someone you don't know, be very cautious and never open attachments.

  • Learn to use your email programs filters. For example, select Message Rules under the Outlook Express Tools menu. You create as many email filters as you like.
    Voice Spam protection adds **SPAM** to potential Spam messages, allowing you to easily identify them and even set up automatic filters.

  • Add spammers to your blocked senders list. This is only partially effective because so many spammers change their email address constantly, but it will still eliminate a significant portion of your spammers.

  • Mailwasher is an excellent (and free, although so good that I made a donation!) program that lets you preview email messages and headers before you download them. It even allows you to "bounce" the message, convincing spammers that your address is no longer valid. It's an easy-to-use and highly effective tool.




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