An old e-mail scam is making a comeback. This time it’s more interested in stealing your name and e-mail address book than stealing your money.
The first step is usually an infection by a virus that steals your name, e-mail address and the contacts in your address book. The information is then used to forge you e-mail and send out unsolicited e-mails. Since the virus uses the victims e-mail address, it enables the spammers to hide their true identity.
This new form is very dangerous because there is no telling what sort of e-mails will be sent. The victim can even get in trouble with the law if their address is used to send fraudulent e-mails.
Once infected, the victim should disconnect the infected machine from the Internet and install a good anti-virus and anti-spyware program. Changing your e-mail address is not a sure way to beat this as your old e-mail address is still active on the machine.
It is also important to contact all the people in your address book warning them about this. It’s a very cumbersome work but it will be vital to save yourself from embarrassment. The other reason is that the virus might send itself to your contacts infecting them as well. Because your e-mail address has been forged, your contacts might open attachments believing them to be from you.
There are several ways to protect yourself from attacks of this kind: Firstly, do not open suspicious e-mail messages. If you receive suspicious messages even from people you know, always contact them or call for confirmation. Secondly, never open the attachments in a suspicious e-mail as that is how the payload of a virus is often delivered. Always delete the suspicious e-mails. Get a good anti-virus that has e-mail scanning capabilities. Have a good anti-spyware program installed as this is the best way to detect spyware or malware installed on your system. You should also ensure that you have a good firewall running on your system. Firewall controls how information comes in and out of your computer, hence a good firewall policy will often defeat viruses that seek to send information from your computer.
There are many free anti-phishing tools available online to help you protect against malware and spyware including AVG free edition and Malwarebytes which have a good anti-malware solution. Most of these can be free for the basic version but you can upgrade to a paid version.
The best way to beat these types of scams is to be vigilant when you are online. It is amazing to see that ,as much as anti-virus companies are coming up with virus definitions to deal with known threats, the virus developers are also coming up with new variations of older viruses.