Norton UK Blog
How to avoid Ad Spam
There was a time when Spam was just processed meat in can. Like it or love it was something you put on your dinner plate. Today, however, it’s come to mean something totally different—and its meaning seems to be changing all the time, as spam tactics and cyber threats get more sophisticated.
What Is Spam?
Is it advertising, or just junk mail that ended up in your Inbox? Ad spam is generally something you wish you hadn’t encountered while online. This can include junk mail containing unsolicited products or services, pop-up advertisements whizzing across the screen, or even unfamiliar text messages sent to your smartphone.
Why Protect Yourself
Aside from being annoying, spam is also used by cyber criminals to harm hundreds of thousands of people each year. These scams can exist in the form of emails claiming to be from trusted financial institution, e-commerce sites, or government agencies. They can also appear as pop-ups delivering unbelievable savings or discounts. Ad scams have also been known to target social media sites and networks. Next time you see that unbelievable offer in your email box, think is it too good to be true?
How to Stay Safe from it
There are several ways you can protect yourself from ad spam.
- Always read the subject line of every email carefully before opening it. Often spam will appear in all caps, offering services or products you did not request or unrelated to your interests altogether. Flag these messages as spam and remove them from your inbox.
- Never send financial information like credit card numbers or your personal data via email. Ad spam that asks for personal information in an email or pop-up window is not secure.
- Often emails or pop-up windows will provide clickable links which take you to a familiar website. These sites can actually be illusions of the real thing. Look for an SSL Certificate, padlock icon to the left of the URL, or green highlight in the URL bar to indicate the security level of the site. If you do not see any of these items, leave the site immediately and report the scam to the appropriate company.
- If you’re still unsure, look carefully at the website URL. Is it spelled correctly? Sometimes a cyber-criminal will use a slight variation on the website URL. If you notice something off about the URL, don’t hesitate to report it.
- Spam can also attack your computer and cause it to go haywire. To avoid getting a virus (also called malware), make sure you’re up to date on your operating system, update the web browser, and install anti-virus software.
- Software like Norton AntiVirus monitors the programs and files in your computer by using a type of virus dictionary to check for misbehavior. If something starts acting funny, the software will let you know that a threat has been detected and give you options on how to proceed. Installing anti-virus software is the best line of defense against ad spam.
Have you been a Victim?
If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, a cyber-attack, or online scam due to spam, you must alert the network administrators and any company associated with the ad spam.
If financial accounts were compromised, you should take the appropriate action to close the accounts. To be safe, watch carefully for unauthorized or irregular charges on your monthly statement.
Depending on the size and scope of the problem, reporting it to your local authorities may also be advisable, especially if the spam was geographically specific to you area.
Ad spam is more than annoying: it’s also dangerous. Don’t let this nuisance get the best of you. Follow these tips, and you’ll be a few steps ahead.