Let’s say you go to check your email. Waiting in your inbox is an email advertising some kind of product, and asks you to click on a link. Chances are you just got a spam email.
In its simplest form, spam is just unsolicited commercial junk email. And it’s common – really, really common. Email spam is thought to make up nearly 90% of all email messages sent around the world.
The point of email spam? To get you to buy – and in some cases – get your personal information.
Types of spam
Unfortunately, email spam isn’t the only type of spam out there. Because email services are getting smarter at detecting spammy emails, hackers are moving on to greener pastures: social media. That has lead us to things like social spam, mobile spam and forum spam.
Social spam is just a spammy link placed on social media – in a tweet, in a comment, in forums. Forum spam is pretty easy to identify – forums usually revolve around specific topics. Forum spam will usually be off topic and seem out of place.
Did you know? Nearly 1 in 200 social media posts is spam.
Did you know? In the first half of 2013 alone, spam rose 355%.
Some hackers go phishing – aka sending out a type of email spam in hopes that they can get some personal information out of you. That can be anything from your phone number to your credit card information to your social security number.
Phishing’s bread and butter is to get you to click on a link in the email spam it’s sent you. That link sometimes might actually seem legitimate, because a lot of time this type of email spam looks like it’s from a real company, like your bank.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Don’t click. Never click a link that you aren’t 100% sure of where it came from, and where it’s taking you.
That goes for social spam too – clicking on a link could launch the spread of a virus. Something you definitely don’t want to deal with.
Protect yourself from spam
The easiest thing to do is watch where you click – don’t follow a link if you don’t know the destination.
Also consider a basic security suite. It can help protect your computer against viruses caused by spam, before they even start.