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How to keep your email free of spam

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Email software’s, like, way smart. Despite an ever-growing number of unsolicited (and in some cases downright nasty) email, there are tools a-go-go to keep your inbox safe from spam.

As luck would have it, the good peeps at Intel have worked and slaved over a list of the very best tools for you. Read on…

The spammers’ arsenal

Just one of the many ways spammers compile lists of email addresses is by trawling through publicly-available information on websites. Web spiders crawl the internet, downloading pages that commonly contain email addresses. Pages with “mail:to” and generic [email protected] links are both the bee’s knees and cat’s miaow for opportunistic email harvesters.

Newsgroups, blogs, and discussion boards are easy prey. A super-simple computer program can extract thousands of unsuspecting email addresses in one fell swoop. Social groups are also vulnerable if they choose to forego password protection on web-based mailing lists. Similarly, emails posted by individuals in blogs and forums are low-hanging fruit for spammers.

Protect and secure your inbox

Here’s the bad news: it’s almost impossible to stop spam altogether. But the good news is there are a number of precautions you can take to avoid scams, protect your personal information, and keep your email address safe.

First things first: Update your software. Keep your operating system, mail/news client and antivirus software current to avoid your beloved computer morphing into a “spam zombie”. Also, install (and use!) a firewall. Yes, even if your computer is part of a protected network.

We will, we will block you. Simply deleting spam ain’t going to deter baddies from sending more. You’re going to have to bring out the big guns: filtering tools. No capiche? Filtering tools cleverly train the software to block spam before it arrives. Typically you can activate it by right-clicking on the spam message, clicking Junk Email, and adding the sender to the blocked list. (The tech equivalent to Coventry.)

If in doubt, don’t reply.
As tempting as it is to confirm whether there’s $5 squillion sitting in the bank account of some nice old reverend from foreign climes who’s devoted his life to poor children and very cute puppies, we both know this one pongs to high heaven of over-ripe spam. Unless you know with certainty who sent the email, never respond or click on links within the message. Avoid opt-out, unsubscribe, download, update or upgrade links in particular.

And stay on guard for scam artists that mirror the addresses of well-known brands such as PayPal and eBay. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never, ever respond to email requests to validate personal account information. If in doubt, check the security information for the email in your mail client.

Use disposable email addresses. Here’s one you may not have considered: Never use your primary email address to register on forums, social groups, blogs, chat rooms or mailing lists. Instead, for public use set up one or more “disposable” email addresses through a free provider such as Hotmail, Yahoo! or Gmail. They’re a piece of cake to create, and easy to disable if your junk box goes coco-loco. It’s also a good idea to use disposable email addresses when making certain purchases or submitting resumes to job sites.

Track down your email address on the interwebs. Searching for your complete email address via the usual search engines will enable you to see if it’s posted on any sites, newsgroups, blogs or forums. And if you can see it, so can spammers. Log on to said sites and remove or change the address to a disposable one. If you’re unable to recall the login details, contact the site’s customer service.

Keeping your email address safe and sound is an ongoing job. By consistently adhering to safe, preventative practices you’ll see a noticeable reduction in the number of security threats and unsolicited mail you receive.

And, while you’re at it, if you’re looking for a new laptop or desktop computer with built-in hardware security features, look no further than computers with Intel Inside.

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