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PC users contribute to spam growth

20 April 2013, 14:57

Cape Town - Spam represents not only an annoyance to web users, but also a danger as criminals often use the unsolicited messages as a delivery method for malware and phishing attacks.

According to Blue Coat Systems, spam continues to grow and human behaviour contributes significantly to the spread of the practice.

Chris Pace, director of Product and Solutions Marketing at Blue Coat Systems chatted to News24 about the scourge of spam and how to combat it.

News24: How do spammers decide what targets would work best for spam?
Chris Pace: Any e-mail address is a target nowadays! The nature of these threats lately seems to be focussed on getting users to click a link which takes them off to an infected site.

News24: How important is user behaviour is fighting spam?
Pace: It's amazing how many people will click a link even when they are reading an e-mail that clearly isn't relevant to them.

Spam messages will pretend to be a flight confirmation or a notice that a package has been sent, yet people who have neither booked a flight nor made an order for delivery will click on that link.

We've also recently seen spam messages that link to viruses on dropbox.com. The best advice here is: If the content of the message clearly isn't for you, don't click the link.

News24: Besides AV and anti-spam software solutions, are there any simple ways to avoid spam attacks?
Pace: 99% of all e-mail is spam and most email providers put anti-spam in place for their users. You'd be wading through an awful lot of junk e-mail if that wasn't there.

But as most modern spam messages now use links to websites with malware on them you do need web protection or antivirus too.

News24: How can users prevent spam on social networks?
Pace: The success of social networking spam, especially on Facebook, is based almost entirely on the sharing of links or liking of pages.

This happens because people aren't checking what permissions they're giving to apps and pages. So, when you click the link to watch the video that your friend shared you're often also allowing that page to share posts on your wall too, so your 500 friends including your grandmother can all see it.

News24: On what platform do you see the highest growth of spam?
Pace: E-mail is available on every platform, but smarter bad guys are now beginning to create threats designed to work whether you receive the spam e-mail on your PC or your mobile device.

News24: On mobile, are some operating systems more susceptible to spam and malicious software than others?
Pace: Spamming is a technique that generally doesn't make a distinction between operating systems and most spam today will direct to a phishing site to try and steal information.

It's simpler and often much more effective than a virus.

News24: Which e-mail client, in your view, has the best native spam filtering tools?
Pace: Most web based e-mail systems are able to use a number of anti-spam engines to more protection than just one. Most of the big name webmail providers will take this approach.

- News24


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