Skip Navigation

The dark side of the net an issue for all Internet users
Wednesday 29 October 2003 10:45:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BBC News Online has featured an item based around The Work Foundation's iSociety project which suggests people are being put off of broadband because of spam and virus threats.

Spam is certainly not just a feature of broadband, it is a feature of having an e-mail account, and even dial-up users should not ignore it. In fact, a dial-up user is more likely to find spam and email bourne viruses annoying becuase there is less bandwidth available to download the data. It seems a common misconception is that the speed of your Internet connection is proportional to the amount of spam received.

The number one rule is NEVER open an email attachment, if it is from an unknown source always delete it. If it is from a known source, do not trust it either, email addresses can be easily faked. If you must open an attachment, save it to disk and ensure that your Anti-Virus software has given it a clean bill of health first. Secondly always keep your Anti-Virus software up-to date.

The situation with virus propagation is similar, running a Windows computer directly connected to the Internet without any form of firewall and anti-virus software is asking for trouble. There is as much risk from leaving a dial-up computer online for 2 hours unprotected, as there is a broadband connection for 2 hours.

The solution lies with retailers, the service providers and the operating system developers. Windows XP comes with a very basic firewall, which while it only protects the computer from incoming attacks rather than email bourne viruses, its wide use would have helped protect people from most of this summers problems. Other third party software firewalls are available, some are free and some for a fairly low price including: Norton Internet Security, Kerio, ZoneAlarm, Sygate and Outpost.

Spam is also relatively easy to control, one step to stopping it becoming a major problem is to ensure your email address is only given out to trusted parties, and never put it onto a web-page. A lot of spam originates from software trawling web pages looking for email addresses. Software is available to filter the spam, two types of software exist, server side which ISPs and techies will use, then client side which is what people will run on their own home computer. When looking at prospective ISPs, spam filtering is something that should be considered, otherwise you can install your own spam filtering software, some examples of which are: MailWasher, SpamPal, Outlook 2003, Norton Internet Security

Note: The listing of a software package in this news item is not an endorsement but simply a listing of what various people are using.


There are currently no comments about this news item.

You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.