Spam is a Pain in the Ass!

The following statistic bears repeating – last month (June, 09), over 90% of email was spam, and of this total more than 83% was sent our way by botnets. (Data from MessageLabs‘ June report).

Botnets or not, personally, I don’t really care where the spam comes from – it’s a major pain in the ass!

I operate multiple email accounts most of which I established 10/12 years ago. Recently, I setup a new email account on Gmail to allow readers of my WordPress site to contact me directly. Almost immediately, I noticed the type of Spam directed at this account was considerably different from the daily spam going to my long established accounts.

Generally, the spam aimed at my older email accounts is fairly harmless and not particularly dangerous, since most of it is calculated to attempt to sell me something I don’t want, and that I have absolutely no interest in.

While these emails are not harmless given that sending spam violates the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) of almost all Internet Service Providers, it’s the phishing emails aimed at my relatively new Gmail account that causes me the most frustration.

The following graphic (this is only one day), clearly illustrates just how pervasive this type of phishing Spam is. Most of this spam has the following in common: notification that the reader has won a huge sums of money, or that they will have access to a huge sums of money but only after a payment of  hundreds of dollars.

Spam is pain in the ass

Click for larger.

As well, in almost every case the spammer requests the following type of personal information:

Your name

Your current address

Your phone number – both land line and cell

It seems to me that phishing spammers target new or relatively new email accounts, more often than well established accounts. And why not?

In a spammer’s view, I suspect, the theory is – an experienced Internet user is less likely to respond to this type of email, while the percentage of relatively new users who respond should be higher due to the new user’s inexperience. Without a doubt, there are some people, somewhere, who will respond to this nonsense.

Opening this type of email is definitely not recommended since, at a minimum, opening one lets the spammers/scammers know that your email address is “live”. Generally not a good idea, since this virtually guarantees you will receive a lot more spam.

You may well be curious when it comes to emails like this, but don’t let your curiosity override your common sense. Security experts argue (none too successfully it seems), that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly” or opening the types of files and emails that are clearly dangerous.

You may be lucky, and you may be able to recover control of your computer if your anti-malware applications are up to date, and the malware signature recognize the intruder as malware. But I wouldn’t count on it. Often, anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

It is beyond dispute that the Internet now fits the criteria of a world that is not just perceived to be, but is in fact, personally threatening to uninformed or casual Internet users. I could go on, but I think the message here is clear. Think carefully before you click on unsolicited emails.

Not clicking will ensure your safety and that these email will remain nothing more than a pain in the ass.

2 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Email, email scams, Interconnectivity, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Phishing, Windows Tips and Tools

2 responses to “Spam is a Pain in the Ass!

  1. Once again I have to say I sure wish this article was required reading before you could get your Surfer’s License…

    (As a tech, I all too often hear, “but nobody told me that!”)