Imagine you decide to attend a party. At the party, you have fun, meet some new people, and visit with old friends. Yet, you’re very careful to keep your wallet in a safe place and you certainly wouldn’t be foolish enough to give out any personal information to strangers. Unfortunately for you, though, there is a thief skulking about the party. This thief is a skilled master of disguise and has several tricks planned to extract your valuables from you. Because this party is filled with people you know and are comfortable with, it can be somewhat difficult to identify those who are dishonest.
In the virtual world, spammers are much like sneaky thieves who infiltrate parties, attempting to extract information from you. There are several underhanded ways they may try to gain your trust. Recognizing their tactics is a prudent way to protect yourself. So review this list and make sure you’re aware of the potential threats.
- Twitter Ashton Kutcher may love twittering, but so do spammers. How they do it...Spammers may post links to malware sites, post duplicate tweets again and again, or follow and un-follow you (or anyone else) to draw attention to themselves. What you can do...If you suspect spam, report it to Twitter immediately. They’re working hard to squelch the influx of spam on the site.
- Facebook With a popular movie about its founder now in theaters, it’s one of the most popular social networking sites on the Web. How they do it...Spammers may actually go to the trouble of creating a fake account and attempt to “friend” you on the site. Once you trust them and add them to your friends list, it’s all downhill from there. What you can do... You can report any suspected spam activity to Facebook, but you can also be proactive. Don’t friend random people; try to stick to befriending those you know, or at least a friend of a friend.
- Message Boards and Forums Although most savvy Internet users know better by now, we can all slip up from time to time. How they do it...Simple. You get excited about a post and in your reply you include your email address. Perhaps your email address is automatically included in your signature. What you can do...No matter what, make sure not to ever leave your email address in a public forum. Ever.
Other sites notorious for their susceptibility to spammers include Myspace, newsgroups, chat rooms, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, and dozens more. Yes, that’s right – most of the sites you use everyday are probably targeted by spammers. So protecting yourself by being aware is key to staying safe.