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03 Nov 2010
By Gavin Costello
Nov
03
2010

It’s your computer, but are you in control?

spam-header

We are all familiar with the emails advertising the sorts of items which good marketers would know never to send you. Yes Spam continues to be as much a part of being on the internet as videos on YouTube or chatting with friends on Facebook.

Telstra Partner SophosLabs reports that between July and September this year the top 5 countries where spam was sent from were:

  1. USA – 18.6%
  2. India – 7.6%
  3. Brazil – 5.7%
  4. France – 5.4%
  5. UK – 5.0%

Cartoon depiction of a botnet computerMost of us would think that there are factories and offices in these countries generating these messages and spamming your inbox. However, you’d be wrong. The vast majority of the spam you receive in your inbox isn’t being sent from the spammers’ own computers but from PC’s belonging to regular members of the public. These computers have generally been infected with pieces of software which allow others to remotely control parts of the computer so they can send spam or perform other malicious actions.

Last month Microsoft reported that more than 2 million PCs in the USA are being hijacked and used by cybercriminals to send spam without the knowledge of the owners.

In other words, unless you or your family keep their computer protection up to date you could be the one pumping out all that Viagra spam.

In this study, Microsoft reported that in the last 3 months for every 1000 times Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal tool was run in Australia on Windows computers, it discovered between 5 and 10 infections. While the majority of the infections discovered in Australia try to steal data, large numbers were being controlled remotely to send spam.

If Australia can keep its Security Software up-to-date we can help win the war against Spam. The best way you can reduce the risk of becoming infected is to run anti-spam and anti-malware protection on all your computers, behave sensibly when online, and ensure your copy of Microsoft Windows or other operating system is always up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Cartoon image of computer ransomwareIf you don’t already have Security software on your computer, or aren’t satisfied with the protection you have already got, Telstra have it covered if you run Microsoft Windows on your computers.

BigPond Security Multi-Licence will protect up to three of your home Windows computers with sophisticated anti-virus and anti-spyware tools. BigPond Security also helps protect your BigPond Email address and up to 2 of your additional mailboxes. We use SophosLabs technology to help stop spam and viruses at our mail servers before they can be downloaded to your computer.

Even if you aren’t running BigPond Security, you should never open a spam message, as you could be inviting spammers in to take control of your computer. Once your computer is controlled by another, you are very quickly likely to fall prey to further virus infections which could also be placing your personal or banking details in danger.

When it comes to cyber-safety, everybody needs to know how to stay safe online at all times. Telstra’s Cyber-safety web page can provide you with some of the tools you’ll need to help you to stay safe online – no matter what your age, online interests or skill level.

You can take up a FREE 60 day trial of BigPond Security and remember to stay safe online!

Related Links

Images courtesy of Sophos Labs ‘the a-z of computer and data security threats’ available as download:  Sophos Social Media Security Tool Kit.

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Posts: 3

4 Comments

  1. rocco says:

    Excellent article :)

    Decent free antivirus exists too. Try AVG Free Edition from Grisoft. I use it at home. Never misses a beat and it’s free !!

    Also use Firefox or Chrome as your internet browser. Less popups, and no activex vulnerabilities.

  2. gwmbox says:

    AVG or even AVIRA are FREE, why buy Bigpond Security when you can get the same (or better) free.

    GW

  3. Gwynn (Telstra employee) says:

    I never knew about the Microsoft malware scanning tool, so that’s for the heads up about that Gavin, it was greatly appreciated. While it thankfully didn’t pick up anything on either of our laptops at home when I ran it over the weekend, it was an added piece of mind after my Google email address was accessed to send spam mail on Melbourne Cup Day.

    Interestingly, the activity log specified that it had been accessed by a mobile phone browser in India at the time the spam was sent. Perhaps the smartphone is becoming the new weapon of choice (or target of choice) for spammers/hackers/virus makers?

  4. Brett (Telstra Employee) says:

    Smartphones are generally used, so the ‘bot master’ controlling the infected PC’s can do this remotely via open, or unproteced WiFi networks.

    Makes it very hard to track it back to them, unlike using a home internet connection.

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