Archive for the ‘SPAM’ Category

Safe computing for the holidays

December 21, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Taking time off to spend with family and friends is such a treat, but alas for many it is hard to stay away from the computer.  If you are going to do some online shopping, play a new game or check your work email, be sure to practice safe computing.  Your home computer may not have the same protection as work, so before you download that file or visit a new site make sure you are protected.

Protecting your computer

1)  Make sure your operating system is updated and all security patches are installed.  If you are using Windows, go to Control Panel Home, then Windows Update. This page will show you if you are up to date or if you need an update.  If you are out of date, follow the instructions and consider turning on automatic updates.  If you have a Mac, the update is similar to Windows so just follow the instructions.  If you have Unix or Linux, you are probably an expert and know how to patch your system.

2)  Browse safely.  Be sure your browser is current and that you are protecting against malware.  Malware are those nasty intruders that we often call viruses, trojans, worms or spyware.  For Windows, you can use Microsoft Security Essentials.  It is a free Microsoft tool that runs in the background and will alert you when a threat is identified.  Remember no protection is 100%, so you have to think before you click and be prepared to remove infections.

3)  Use a firewall. Firewalls can be hardware or software and screen Internet traffic as a first line of defense.

4)  Use spam filters. Most email programs include a spam and junk filter.  Not only can you trash unwanted junk mail, but you can disable email links (recommended) and be warned of malicious content.  There are many malicious emails that look legitimate so be careful when opening emails and never click on attachments or links unless you are certain of the source.

5)  Download safely. Only download from sites that you know are legitimate and reputable. When you download, save the file and be sure that your antivirus software is set up to scan when you open files.  A good rule to follow when opening anything is when in doubt – don’t!

6)  Have a computer expert you can count on.  If you are unfamiliar with computer protection, be sure to have someone who you can consult for advice and help.  It seems complicated, but there are many tools that are easy to configure that run automatically to keep you safe.  Be sure you are protected so that you can enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends rather than fixing your computer.

7)  Be sure you have a current backup.  Just in case the worst happens, you can restore to your latest backup.

Online information and help is abundant, but be cautious that you don’t get fooled by malware that pretends to offer help.  If you get a pop-up that claims it will remove an infection from your computer for a price, stop and call your expert!

If you need help or have comments/suggestions, please feel free to contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

All of us at LAN Systems wish you a safe and joyous holiday season.

One-Third of World Spam

December 28, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]With the arrest of Oleg Nikolaenko, the young Russian responsible for billions of spam messages each day, the world is wondering what it would be like with one-third less spam.

There are over 250 billion email messages sent each day. With 86,400 seconds in a day, that’s about 3 million email messages a second.  Conservatively, 80% is spam.  That means that 2.5 million emails each second are spam.  Many of those emails are caught by spam filters, but the spam that makes it to inboxes still cause major problems.  Spam is profitable and despite the repeated warnings, people still click on spam.

Ordering pharmaceuticals or fake Rolex watches from spam hurts you in two ways. First, they take your money for the item and you get an empty box if you get anything at all.  And second, you can be highjacked and become part of the botnet.  A botnet is like the Borg for computers. Your computer is taken over and does what it is commanded to do – send more spam!

Botnets sound like science-fiction, but they do exist and have attacked millions of computers.  Most infections occur on home or small business computers and start with a computer that does not have an adequate firewall or anti-malware protection. At one time, Oleg’s Mega-D botnet had over a hundred thousand infected computers sending billions of spam messages each day.

So will the world see a reduction in spam?  Probably not, but it does give pleasure to all the haters-of-spam that at least one culprit is behind bars. For now, he’s being held without bail.  I don’t know if Federal prisons still serve Spam, but he could develop a newfound love for fried Spam, Spam sandwiches and Spam with eggs.

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Promoted Tweets: lead or gold?

May 16, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]Promoted tweets have been with us for such a short time, but already declared a success by Twitter and doomed by the blogosphere.  Virgin America claims its fifth highest sales day for special to Toronto launched by promoted tweets.  But they did have a 50% offer so that could have helped.

In truth, promoted tweets will most likely be a successful venture for Twitter and its business model.  Twitter’s COO tells that the company is under no pressure to make a profit from its investors and that they are focusing on the user experience. So we should see only a modest amount of targeted ads that are high value to the user.  The type and frequency of ads will be a barometer of Twitter’s intent. 

Currently, promoted tweets are on a cost-per-impression pricing model, but that could change if they realize quick success and acceptance by the user community.  Of course the advertisers like it, they are getting great exposure and that means name recognition.  But today’s online user is turned off by ads and has adapted by ignoring them. Persuasion is a powerful tool, but once we realize we are being persuaded – resistance is easier.

Ads that we consider spam are easily blocked, but what about subtleties.  With so much obvious fodder in cyberland, our natural defenses tune them out. But what happens when the laws of persuasion and selective perception marketing are newly applied.  It takes a while for our skills improve so we can ignore the new ad stimulus.  It’s not easy to resist because people desire new possessions.  Our buying impulses are quite predictable because product marketing is successful and profitable especially online.

Twitter can’t make everyone happy with promoted tweets no matter what formula they use. Purists want no advertising on the Internet and advertisers want to be highly visible on successful sites. There is no middle ground.  But Twitter can learn from the mistakes of others and if users don’t like the ads, they’ll tweet about it.

If the number of retweets is any measure of success, the launch of promoted tweets was embraced by the Twitter community.  But changes come quickly in cyberspace, so we’ll observe, analyze and redefine our expectations as Twitter learns the advertising ropes.  It makes for good blogging!

What do Confucious, Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump have in common …

April 26, 2010

[tweetmeme source=lansystems only_single=false]… they are quoted hundreds of times a day on Twitter.

For the record, I like a motivational quote as much as then next gal.  The targeted quote used to introduce an article or chapter can be informational and inspirational, but thousands of quotes a day on Twitter are just Internet fodder.

Successful social media aficionados have to post and tweet many times a day even if they have nothing of consequence to say.  Right?   No. You can reach your desired audience with interesting and beneficial information while maintaining your decorum.  Got to use a quote here – “Less is more” Robert Browning

Etiquette in the virtual space has the same rules as in the physical space.  You would never spam someone at a dinner party and if you did you wouldn’t be invited again.  Before jumping into your sales pitch, you’d take time to get to know the person and establish rapport. Before sending endless correspondence, you’d ask permission and if declined you would happily respect the request. 

Online doesn’t mean anonymous. In fact, your local online community is a just that – a community.  Although it’s larger, it still has the same expectation of etiquette, manners and acceptable behavior as any community. You are expected to be polite in person and online.

Facebook and other online social sites give us the opportunity to have more friends than ever before.  That’s because we can more easily keep up with the activities that make us friends.  It is estimated that before social media, we had an average of 150 friends.  With social media, that average is up around 700.    But we still expect kindness, politeness and courtesy from our friends.  I like Aliza Sherman’s 10 Golden Rules of Social Media as a guide to using the online communities. Regardless of the media, we are people communicating with people. 

As the social media and marketing experts (that’s all of us) decide what is an effective online strategy and as our expectations of social media as a marketing tool are redefined, we should remember what our mothers taught us –

If you can’t say something that’s not spam, don’t say anything”

“There is no substitute for good manners”

“Silence is golden”

and “Don’t forget the Golden Rule.”

Until next time … shhhhh

Fighting Spam

March 31, 2010

[tweetmeme source=lansystems only_single=false]

Over 90% of email is unsolicited and unwanted. Junk emails flood the electronic delivery system with messages that we just don’t want and phishing schemes fool millions each year.  These abuses waste time and resources and are one of the biggest productivity drains that businesses face.

Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of all spam but you can manage the problem and protect your business from incidental damage.  Make sure you have a clear email policy and train users so they don’t fall for spam tricks. 

  1. Use a Spam Filter – although spammers work on beating the filter, this is your best first defense.
  2. Never reply to spam, not even to unsubscribe – often this just confirms your email is valid.
  3. Disable automatic downloading of HTML pictures –  spammers get confirmation that you opened the message if the graphics (pictures) are downloaded.
  4. Don’t participate in chain emails – these often harvest email address and many recipients find them irritating.
  5. Don’t respond to email requests that ask for personal information or money – this is the most common phishing scam.
  6. Use privacy settings on your accounts – especially for social media sites, don’t publically list your email address.
  7. Use care when giving your email – if you list your email on any site (or on your business card) remember it increases your chances of being spammed.
  8. Don’t spam others – if you have a eNewsletter or send email information be sure you follow proper protocol and allow your recipients to easily unsubscribe.
  9. Turn off read and delivery receipts and automatic response to meeting requests – these responses are used to validate your email address.
  10. If you receive spam in your inbox, you can forward it with the proper header to uce@ftc.gov.

More technical notes at www.lansystems.com/technotes.html