Steering Clear of Spamming and Phishing

Steering Clear of Spamming and Phishing

Steering Clear of Spamming and Phishing : Millions of people fall victim to identity thieves each year, with financial losses amounting to billions of dollars. For this reason, the security of your sensitive personal information isn’t something you should take lightly.

Now one of the first steps you should take to protect your data is to invest in an identity theft protection system. However, doing so can only go so far as to keep your identity safe if you have little idea about what you’re dealing with.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most widespread data security threats that – unfortunately – still manages to ensnare many people the world over: spamming and phishing.

What Spamming and Phishing Are

At one point or another, you’ve probably received ‘junk mail’ in your postbox or on your doormat, right? Well, “spam” is its electronic equivalent. At best, it can be incredibly annoying. But at worst, it can be very dangerous to your personal information, particularly if it is part of what’s called a ‘phishing scam’.

The first thing you should know about spam emails is that they’re sent out by cyber-criminals or spammers with the intention to:

  • Obtain bank account numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, and many more
  • Unknowingly access the recipients’ computers to spread some malicious code that can steal or corrupt data
  • Make money from recipients who actually get tricked into responding to the message (yes, there are those who do get tricked because some emails look very legitimate)

Now aside from having an identity fraud detection system in place to secure your data, there are other tips that you’ll find useful for protecting yourself against phishing and spam email.

Tips for Steering Clear of Data Security Breaches

    • Set up at least two different emails, one for private use and the other for public.
    • Make up address names that would be difficult to guess. This is since spammers use combinations of obvious numbers, words, and names to build recipient lists that they could send emails to.
    • Do not publish your email addresses anywhere on the Internet, especially on online resources that are readily available to the public (e.g. social networking sites).
    • If there’s a need to publish them electronically, you can “mask” them so spammers won’t be able to pick up on the names. For example, rather than ‘[email protected]’, publish it as Chandler-dot-Bing-at-gmail-dot-com instead.
    • You should never reply to any spam since spammers verify log and receipt of your responses. When you get tracked, the spam messages will just keep coming.
    • Be wary of messages that ask you to ‘unsubscribe’ to something that you have no idea of (you probably never even subscribed in the first place). Spammer use fake ‘unsubscribe’ correspondences to trick you into confirming that your email address in in indeed active. Simply put, never click ‘unsubscribe’ links coming from emails whose sources are unknown.
    • Ensure that you download, install, and use the most updated version of your browser since it comes with the latest security patches.
    • Take advantage of anti-spam filters that often come with your email client (e.g. Yahoomail, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird).
  • For added protection, install an Internet security solution that proactively scans emails for any security threats. There are also those with advanced anti-spam functionalities.

Now in the event you do receive spammy emails, do not access any links or download any of their attachments; delete them outright instead. If you do get such messages regularly, you should consider changing your email address to avoid the risk of security breaches.