Spam, also known as junk mail, is unsolicited email. In most cases, spam is used as a method of advertising. However, spam can be used to send harmful links, malicious programs, or deceptive content to try to obtain sensitive information such as a social security number or bank account information.
When used as an attack method, spam can include links to an infected website or an attachment that could infect a computer. These links or attachments can result in lots of pop-ups designed to capture your attention and lead you to advertising sites. Excessive pop-up windows can quickly cover a user’s screen, taking up resources and slowing down a computer. In extreme cases, pop-ups can cause a computer to lock up or display a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).
Many antivirus and email software programs automatically detect and remove spam from an email inbox. The ISP often filters most spam before it reaches the user’s inbox. Some spam still might get through. Watch for some of the more common indicators of spam:
- An email has no subject line.
- An email is requesting an update to an account.
- The email is filled with misspelled words or strange punctuation.
- Links within the email are long and/or cryptic.
- An email is disguised as correspondence from a legitimate business.
- The email requests that you open an attachment.
Most spam is sent out by multiple computers on networks that have been infected by a virus or worm. These compromised computers send out as much bulk email as possible.