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Email spam, scam and threat round-up for week ending on June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

The overall volume of spam over this past week is greatly reduced, to say the least. Not only have the type of spam subjects become fewer, but the number of malware threats has dropped as well.

The few malware threats that arrived in my MailWasher Pro Inbox were in the form of attached zip files pretending to contain Better Business Bureau complaints (Subject: FW: Complaint Case 2UBG8353D9XLI0Z) or an ADP Payroll invoice (Subject: ADP Payroll INVOICE for week ending 06/21/2013).

Malicious files in email attachments are best managed by an up-to-date anti-virus program that can monitor incoming email messages, as well as files you open before running, such as zip and pdf files. I personally use and recommend Trend Micro Internet security products. It uses "in the cloud" malware definitions for the newest threats, so it doesn't bog your computer down with what would otherwise be a huge virus database on your hard drive (and loaded in RAM memory).

Also, if you operate your computer with less than Administrator privileges, and keep your bullshit detectors on high, you will be about 90% less likely to get infected by most malware, especially the silent install type. The B.S. detectors are for when an installer pops up a UAC prompt asking for the Administrator password to continue.

The bulk of spam over the last week was for herbal weight loss scams, like "green coffee" beans or "Garcinia Cambogia" pills. I did a little bit of reading up on the latter and found a lot of people, mostly women, who tried these Garcinia pills had developed some very serious gastric problems, until they stopped taking them. Very few of the commenters had any success at losing weight, without also losing their lunch ;-)

Best advice: if you need to lose weight, see a doctor and exercise more often. Exercise burns calories. Magic weight loss pills may work for a while, then stop working. Then you may regain the weight you lost (I watched this happen to a friend who tried the old Atkins Diet. Bad outcome!).

The next most common type of spam last week was for work at home scams. These are either running scams about "processing emails" (Earn $25.00 For Every Email You Process!), or are fronts for "Money Mule" recruiters (Subject: Environmental business currently seeking representatives worldwide.) (Read about Money Mules here).

The last class of spam that was measurable was for an ongoing penny stock pump and dump scam. Stock scammers have bought a large volume of shares, valued at about 20 cents US, of a company that deals in a hair replacement treatment. For about 3 weeks they have been blasting out email scams making all sorts of false claims about this company and the value of its stock. Using fake news in the messages the scammers are hoping to drive up interest, which would lead to more people being roped into the scheme, causing the value to rise quickly. If the value of this stock rises to a level that the scammers have agreed upon, they will sell off all of their stock, at a profit to themselves and their co-conspirators, but a loss to everybody else involved.

If you are a MailWasher Pro user, and you have applied my custom MailWasher spam filters, you are already protected against all of the above spam, scams and malware threats. At the very least, you will be warned about what classification any given email falls into, if any. If, like me, you set your spam filters to auto-delete known spam and threats, they will go poof before you even see them (MailWasher Pro has a restorable recycle bin, in case of false positives).

Please note: I update my custom MailWasher spam filters as is needed. If I get, or am notified about a false positive detection, I investigate the cause and fix the bad rule-condition as soon as possible.

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Trend Micro Internet Security products, for home and office users, use in-the-cloud malware definitions that are updated every day, all day, as soon as new or altered strains of viruses and other malware are detected in the wild and analyzed. By offloading the bulk of these ever changing virus definitions to cloud servers, the load on your computers is greatly reduced. All users of Trend security programs are instantly protected from hostile web pages laden with malware exploits and hostile email, by the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network.

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Wiz FeinbergWiz's Blog is written by Bob "Wiz" Feinberg, an experienced freelance computer consultant, troubleshooter and webmaster. Wiz's specialty is in computer and website security and combating spam. Wizcrafts Computer Services was established in 1996.

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