Your computer could be a ‘bot’ sending out spam and even viruses to other computers.
Many creators of malware and viruses create programs that allow infected computers to come under the control of a main computer that sends out commands. Some viruses will simply hijack a computer and make the computer send out spam without the computer owner even realizing it.
Spam can be transmitted unknowingly by your computer directly through your internet connection. Sometimes a person’s email, instant messaging accounts, or social networking accounts will be taken over and used to spam thousands of people.
You can protect your computer and make sure you aren’t sending out spam with the following tips.
Keep your firewall up.
Most systems come with the firewall enabled, but some may allow it to be turned off. You should always keep your firewall up. Windows users can find the settings under Control Panel and Internet Options. Keeping your firewall enabled limits the amount of data coming in and out. Two way firewalls minimize malicious code and information going both in and out. A basic firewall will minimize the risk of viruses and spam getting on your PC in the first place.
At the least a firewall will help prevent your computer from connecting to ‘parent’ computers that are trying to control and send commands to infected computers.
Keep software up to date.
Hackers often exploit weaknesses and holes in operating system coding. Keeping your computer up to date ‘patches’ up these holes and reduces the risk of viruses, malware, and spam getting into your PC.
Also you’ll want to keep your anti-virus software up to date and active to do scheduled scans of your system. Freeware programs such as AdAware and SpyBot Search and Destroy can add to your arsenal against viruses and programs trying to exploit your system.
Regular scans with your anti-virus software can help identify and remove malware and programs that are harmful to your computer, including programs designed to transmit spam from your PC.
Don’t click on or open suspicious links and files.
Even if a link, email, or file seems to come from a trusted friend or source, verify that they sent it to you. Many times a person’s computer or online accounts will get hijacked and send out spam and viruses in their name without their knowledge.
Check your social networking, e-mail accounts, and IM accounts on a regular basis to make sure your accounts aren’t being hijacked for spamming. Many people have these accounts compromised when they log-in on a phishing site which then uses the log-in information to take over the account.
Keeping an eye on your computer and your online accounts can help you catch spamming and viruses before they get out of a hand.
Regular updates and virus scans can block entry of programs designed to take over your computer and remove existing ones.