Simple tips for dealing with spam, Part 1

17 January 2012

Dear URI Community,

For as long as we have had email as a means of communication, we have had spam or unwanted and potentially malicious emails with viruses embedded in attachments and links. Some of these are obvious and some appear to be sent from people we know. With the increased popularity of Facebook, we are starting to see an increase in spam generated from that social network as well.

It is understandable that you will want to help minimize spam and to protect your friends and colleagues from potential harm. When you receive messages to circulate a warning so that your contacts are prepared, you may be tempted to act on that suggestion. However, the act of circulating that message undermines your intention and actually creates more spam and may be forwarding a virus that is embedded in that very warning. Here are a few simple tips:

  1. When you see spam, delete it from your inbox and empty your email trash.
  2. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know and it is not likely that they actually sent it,delete it from your inbox and empty your trash. If you are concerned about your friend, call them or send them a completely new email (don't forward the suspicious email).
  3. If your email or Facebook account has been taken over by a scammer. Immediately change your password and make it strong (use lowercase, uppercase, numbers and special characters) and long (the more characters the better!). Not sure if your account has been hijacked? Check your Sent folder to see if there are messages that went out from your account that you did not compose.

Please don't perpetuate the problem by opening and forwarding suspicious email and even sending warnings about spam and viruses. The best actions are to delete these messages and to have good passwords for your own online accounts.

Be well,