The Norman Transcript

Business

January 4, 2014

Did Santa send you some spam?

NORMAN — You may be eligible to receive government education money bill!” “Did you suffer a Gallbladder injury while using Birth Control?” “We want to buy your home for Christmas! Sell Your Home Today!” “Make $10,000 for Christmas!” “Bounci36D sent you a Holiday picture!”

As the holiday season moved on, many people noticed a huge increase in the amount of unwanted email they received. This is not unusual; it happens every holiday season. The message subjects listed above are a very small example of the spam email I received. The Internet bad guys make a huge effort every holiday season to scam as many people as possible, and this year was no exception. While some spam is from legitimate marketers, most of it is not.

Many spam emails had subject lines that simply read, “Christmas.” Upon opening the message, the reader would find a link leading to a shopping website that has unbelievably good deals on all sorts of fabulous merchandise. This is where things would start to go downhill. The website was probably bogus, and you never got anything out of the deal other than a big, fat credit card bill and the displeasure knowing that you had become a victim of identity theft.

Some dangerous spam emails contain links to alleged shopping websites, but when you click on the link, a message pops up telling you that you need to install a special “viewer” or some other file in order to see all of the good deals on the website. When you install the viewer, guess what you’ve really installed? A virus, of course. This tactic led to the huge success of the Storm virus in previous holiday seasons.

Another way that spam emails sucker in their victims is the promise of E-cards, or electronic greeting cards. You may receive an email claiming that “a friend” has sent a Hallmark holiday greeting card. Click on the greeting card attachment, and, bam, your computer is infected with a virus.

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