Spam Increasing, and This Time it`s Personal
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As a new year is upon us, we have much to be thankful for and even more to look forward to, but according to many experts, anyone who owns and uses a computer has something unexpected coming their way: a major influx of personal spam. Since the advent of e-mail, spam has been an annoying part of everyday life. The problem, though, is that we are now inundated by spam in all of its various forms -- from e-mail to texts -- and it is becoming more personal, more dangerous and more legitimate-looking in terms of its appearance.
The question of what spam is, isn't difficult to answer, but finding out where it originates is an entirely different story. Essentially, spam is characterized as the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages. As mentioned previously, the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, but the term can be applied to similar abuse in other media spanning a wide range of fields, such as instant messaging, web search engines, blogs, wikis, online classified ads, and so forth.
A new study by Cisco Systems Inc. found an alarming increase in the amount of personalized spam, which online identity thieves create using stolen lists of e-mail addresses or other stolen data about their victims, such as where they went to school or which bank they use.Unlike traditional spam, most of which is blocked by e-mail filters, personalized spam, known as "spear phishing" messages, often sails through unnoticed. This type of spam is sent in smaller chunks and often comes from accounts the spammers have set up at reputable Web-based e-mail services. Many of the messages are expertly crafted, linking to perfectly designed web sites that are completely bogus or immediately install malicious programs onto your computer.
Spam's popularity can be blamed on the economic viability of the practice. Advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists and it's proven to be incredibly difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings. The kind of spam that features advertisements for products or services isn't making anyone rich necessarily, but personalized spam has proven to be incredibly lucrative for online predators who have wiped out entire bank accounts, maxed out credit cards of unsuspecting victims and stolen countless identities.
The rise in this type of personalized spam is obviously very worrisome for the average person who routinely purchases goods and services online or manages their credit cards, checking accounts or other financial information via various websites where their personal information might be at risk. Gone are the days of offers for Viagra; spam is no longer about easy, cheap advertising, it's now about taking unsuspecting Internet users for all they're worth. Personalized spam is clever and misleading, and the numbers of Internet users becoming victims of bank fraud, identity theft and other serious crimes is on the rise. It should come as no surprise that this spike is in direct correlation with a rise in personalized spam. Let's take a closer look at specific kinds of personalized spam and what Internet users can do to avoid becoming a victim of fraud or other serious Internet crime.
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