Reduce spam – don’t be a zombie

spam1Every year spam becomes a bigger issue. People ask me why…surely no one’s falling for the Nigerian scams, right? No one really buys generic viagra from strangers?

Actually, they do. And if 0.0001% of all spam receives a response – that’s 1 in a million – those spammers make millions.

Sadly, the costs of sending all those emails are next to nothing. Spammers use hackers, trojan horses, and viruses to take over “zombie” computers. All the email is routed through these unwitting accomplice PCs and servers. So they send millions, they receive a small but steady flow of responses, and they get rich.

Think this isn’t for real? One time we were talking to a prospective client about their email issues. When we got on their server, we found a dozen spammers connected, with 4,000 emails queued up and ready to send. We booted them off, only to have another dozen reappear within minutes. Until a better firewall could be put into place, there was little to do but disconnect Internet access.

It’s not limited to servers either. We brought in a client PC that had been infected by a virus. While we were working on it, someone accidentally connected it to our Internet connection, and it sent so much spam our very own email was temporarily blacklisted. Legitimate emails sent to clients and prospects bounced until we got that corrected.

The solution? It’s all about security. If you thought a robber was casing the neighborhood, you’d check the alarm system, your deadbolt, your window locks…do the same thing with your computer network. Make sure you’ve got a business-class firewall, anti-virus protection on every single machine, and intrusion detection if you can afford it.

Keep in mind, robbers can break into even the best protected homes if there’s reason; likewise, hackers can break into any network if they really want. Just be sure  you haven’t left the front door wide open.

Not sure if your current IT guy has you covered? Have an independent third party run an external scan. If they can get in, so can the spammers.

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