VISUAL NEWSLETTER – MAY 2004
The Internet has become a battleground for many computer users. The onslaught of Viruses and Spam (Junk E-Mail) continues without any sign of a letup. I personally receive no less than fifty viruses and junk e-mails a day. Some people have come back Monday morning to as many as 1000 of them.
Junk E-Mail causes continual lost productivity as users wait for it to download and then have to sort through the junk to look for valid e-mails they might actually want to read. There are several ways that you can get on these junk e-mail lists. If you register a software product that you buy or download, there is usually a page where you must tick off whether to accept e-mail notices from the developer or their associates. If you fill in your e-mail address and leave these fields ticked off, the merry go round will begin. I have begun to enter false e-mail addresses when required to avoid this ongoing problem. In some cases however, software developers will e-mail you a release code to use their product. Without your valid e-mail address you won’t get the code.
If you have a web-site and your e-mail address is listed on it, there are also search engines that will scan your web-site and automatically pick up your e-mail address. In some cases this is added to a specialized database for your industry if that can be determined from scanning your web-site.
Viruses have also become a daily occurrence for many e-mail users as well. Phrases such as: “Your bill is attached”, “Here is your file”, etc. usually accompany these viruses. If you open the attachment without protection, your computer will become infected. Internet worms do not even need your assistance to attack your computer. They only need an open TCP/IP connection, which is all too often supplied by your internet provider.
Once you are on some mailing lists it is difficult to get off. Your address can be shared among thousands of vendors and it can be sold over and over again to new companies looking for your business. Some legitimate e-mail marketers give you the ability to stop these unwanted e-mails, but many others do not or simply ignore your requests to “Stop The Madness”.
There are several ways to deal with the problem. In many cases the simplest way to resolve the problem is to change your e-mail address. You must then e-mail all of your legitimate contacts to make sure that they have your new address but this will eliminate the problem immediately. Products such as Norton’s Internet Security will funnel most of the junk e-mail into a separate folder where it can be easily emptied. Even with such a product you can have Spam arrive in your Inbox and good e-mail end up in the Spam mailbox by mistake so be careful with it.
Some Internet providers are beginning to offer services to trap unwanted e-mail before it is sent to you. This saves you the time spent downloading it but unless you can specify a complete list of valid e-mail contacts, you may miss new mail that you would want to receive. For the time being there is no easy answer to this dilemma.
Viruses on the other hand can be
largely controlled. Internet worms can be blocked by using a good router and
firewall. This is highly important for home users of