Bill Williams (IT): Support Site
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By Spyware, Emails and Spam
Bill Williams

Edit MessageUploaded - 13 Oct 2007 14:13


Spyware is software that installs without your permission and keeps track of what you are doing and may note what you are typing as passwords etc and send that information to criminals.

I advise everyone to get "Spybot Search & Destroy" from Link
and update & run it at least once a week or every time before you do any online banking.

Viewing Emails

Microsoft invented 'Pretty Email' the idea of using the web description languages HTML in emails. Unfortunately they put in ALL the facilities and NONE of the security. This has been gleefully used by spammers & virus writers as a means of tracking email addresses and installing viruses. Every time you view a spam message in HTML you are running the risk that it will verify that your email address is a live one or that it may infect you with spyware or a virus.

The only safe way of using email is to display in the old Telex manner as plain text and then only "View as Html" those messages which you KNOW are from safe sources. Yes, it's a pain in the ass, but it is much, much safer.

Alas Microsoft failed to provide "wiew in plain text" on their leading program Outlook, the only thing you can do is turn off the preview pane and open only those emails that look OK in their headers.

However for Outlook Express you can do this: Click the Tools menu then Options, then the Read tab. Put a tick in "Read All Messages in Plain Text". And OK everything.

Only the text part of the message will then show, no pictures, in the preview pane. That is normally enough to delete the spam ones and the Phishing attempts. To view genuine messages one at a time, highlight the message in the inbox index list then drop down the view menu and select "Message in HTML"


The best program that I have found for ordinary users is SpamFighter, but it only works with the most popular email programs. I advise all ordinary users: if you are using Outlook or Outlook Express join the SpamFighters

This works by everyone reporting mails that are spam, (with a single click). The program identifies messages with a checksum (think: like DNA as a signature) when enough users have reported that such & such a checksum is spam, it goes on the spam list at the Spamfighter server SF. As each of your messages comes in the checksum is calculated and sent to the SF and back comes a probability that it is spam. The addon to your email program then diverts it to a spam folder if it seems to be spam. No personal details from your email is sent to the SF only the checksum.

As most of the detection is done by humans it is self improving if the spammers find a new method.


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