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Spam Increasing, and This Time it`s Personal
By: Joe Eitel
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    Table of Contents:
  • Spam Increasing, and This Time it`s Personal
  • Personal Spam is Everywhere
  • Avoiding the Pitfalls of Personal Spam

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    Spam Increasing, and This Time it`s Personal - Personal Spam is Everywhere

    (Page 2 of 3 )

    The study by Cisco found that more than 0.4 percent of all spam sent in September were targeted attacks. That might sound low, but since 90 percent of all e-mails sent worldwide are spam, this means 800 million messages a day are attempts at spear phishing. A year ago, targeted attacks with personalized messages were less than 0.1 percent of all spam.

    Investigators are also finding that "personal" spam can pertain to the type of spam already discussed,such as e-mails trying to trick business owners into coughing up credentials for their Google advertising accounts, personalized "whaling" e-mails to executives claiming that their businesses are under investigation by the FBI or claims that there's a problem with their personal bank account.Experts have come to find out that other "personal" spam literally gets personal -- as in too close for comfort. Spammers are now known to call personal cell phone numbers and leave text messages. Unlike junk e-mail that can be deleted with the click of a button, text-message spam costs money for the person who receives it and chips away at the mobile phone's aura of privacy.

    U.S. consumers are expected to receive about 1.5 billion spam text messages this year, up from 1.1 billion last year and 800 million in 2006, according to Ferris Research, a San Francisco market research firm. Those are conservative figures; some estimates are far higher. Verizon Wireless said it blocks more than 200 million spam text messages every month and cell phone companies are ramping up efforts to shut them out by taking spammers to court and using more sophisticated filters.

    Spam is often a nuisance, but more malicious messages can lead to a new form of fraud called smishing -- a variation of a spam e-mail attack known as phishing. Smishing attacks disguise themselves as legitimate messages from e-commerce or financial sites such as eBay, PayPal or banks and seek to dupe consumers into giving up account numbers or passwords. Most text messages are sent without any form of encryption, allowing tech-savvy spammers to intercept the messages and get access to personal information.

    No matter what the vehicle for personal spam, one thing is clear; it's on the rise everywhere.For those who regularly use instant messaging services like Yahoo Instant Messenger and Microsoft's MSN Messenger, it's not a secret that IM spam arrived long ago and shows no signs of leaving. Recently, however, there has been a major influx of Skype spam. Sure, it's not an entirely new problem either; there has always been some type of spam on Skype. Skype user message boards devoted to spam go back well into 2006; the spammers back then ranged from online casinos to Chinese gibberish, but the attacks have become more serious and more apparent than ever before.

    What was noted as an "alarming trend" on Skype a year ago is now taking sharper focus and more people are paying attention. Users have complained of never having been as inundated by personal spam on Skype as they are now. Some users complain of receiving calls from unknown individualsposing as officials from banks asking for personal account information while others receive cryptic spam calls that say nothing more than, "Hello, FBI." Some Skype spammers tell users that "Windows Requires Immediate Attention" and that their "Security Center has detected malware on your computer!" No matter how personal spam strikes, it's important that Internet users are constantly on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious or sounds fraudulent. It's necessary to use a discerning eye and good judgment when choosing to give out your personal information, whether it is information concerning your bank or your social security number. Let's take a look at how to avoid personal spam and what to do if you encounter it.

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