Spam. In some ways, it's the electronic equivalent of junk mail and junk phone calls. Spam is not only an unsolicited and annoying nuisance, it's also a pervasive problem that's clogging and overwhelming the Internet's email systems. Spam accounts for approximately 80 percent of worldwide email volume.
In other ways, spam is worse than junk mail or junk phone calls. Although some spam is simply unwanted but legitimate advertising, much of it is worse. It can include everything from scam offers to malicious code--all designed to wreak havoc on your financial well-being or on your computer. Here are some of the most current and prevalent spam threats:
For Young and Old
Speaking of kids, be sure to explain spam to them. They're so comfortable with PCs that they fearlessly click on everything, including things they shouldn't. Make sure they don't open email from people they don't know. Warn them not to open attachments blindly because they may release spyware, viruses, or inappropriate content. Ask them to show you any email that they aren't sure of before they open it.
If you think your children will be harmed by content that might appear in spam, you should consider if they are old enough or mature enough for their own email accounts. For younger children, make sure to set the spam folder settings in their email and review their incoming email subject lines when they log in.
The Spam List
Keep your email address off of spam lists by keeping it low profile. When you post your email address in an online forum or provide it to others in a message, try to hide it so automated tools used by spammers will be tricked. For example, instead of using email@example.com, type "marian at Norton dot com" or "marian at n0rt0n d0t c0m."
Create an email address you use just for online shopping and another email address for correspondence. With free Web email it's easy to create multiple accounts so you can limit the spam that appears in your primary account.
What to Do
So far, there is no such thing as a "do not email" list. Until there is, you'll have to take care of spam yourself. Fortunately there are good tools to help you do that. Most email programs include spam filters that detect and isolate spam. Many Internet service providers filter out spam so it never reaches your PC. But to get thorough protection against spam, you'll need to install security software such as Norton™ Internet Security or Norton 360™ to screen, detect, and block spam, and to eliminate viruses and spyware that may already reside on your PC.
Should spam slip through these filters, take the simplest approach to suspicious emails and just hit delete.