New ways to fight spyware, spam
By Jay Dougherty May 20, 2006, 2:55 GMT
Washington - Thanks to spam and spyware, no one could blame you if you dread logging on to your computer these days.
Too often it seems that you're either ridding your inbox of piles of unrequested, irrelevant e-mail messages or worrying about whether the latest computer slowdown is the result of some malicious software that's integrated itself onto your system.
If you're fed up, you have plenty of company. Virtually every major antivirus vendor now has an anti-spyware solution and an anti-spam solution. But most of the offerings, unfortunately, leave a lot to be desired.
There are, however, a few new approaches that have proven themselves to be both useful and important in the battle against the dual threats of spam and spyware and go a long way toward helping you regain your productivity.
There are two problems with most anti-spam programs on the market today. First, they don't do a very good job of catching spam. Even Microsoft's impressive filters in its Outlook 2003 e-mail client leave you with the job of sorting through a lot of useless messages that managed to sneak their way into your inbox.
Second, most anti-spam software filters out spam only after you've downloaded your e-mail messages. So even though you might not see as many spam messages in your inbox with a software filter, you still have all that spam residing somewhere on your system.
OnlyMyEmail (http://www.onlymyemail.com) has a unique solution for both problems. OnlyMyEmail is not a software application you install in addition to your e-mail client. Instead, it's a filtering service that removes the spam sent to you before it ever reaches your inbox.
Essentially performing as an intermediate filtering service, OnlyMyEmail works with any e-mail program on the market. When you sign up for the service - which costs three dollars per month but is available for 30 days in a free trial - you're given clear and explicit directions on how to configure your e-mail program. Once properly configured, you download your e-mail as you usually do. But instead of receiving mounds of unwanted messages, you get primarily legitimate messages.
The service sends you a report at specified intervals that indicate which messages have been filtered out. If you detect an error, you can set up the service to allow messages through. You can also check the site on a daily basis, if you wish, to see what it has filtered. That's not a bad idea when just beginning to use the service.
OnlyMyEmail's filtering is widely considered the best in the business. Using the service is like turning the clock back ten years, to a time when the word 'spam' referred primarily to a processed meat product and not to junk e-mail. If you've started to avoid e-mail because of the amount of junk you receive, the price of OnlyMyEmail is well worth the peace of mind that you'll gain.
--- Privacy expert
Spyware and malware are more prevalent than viruses these days, and yet the tools available to fight spyware have left a lot to be desired. Some new attempts bear watching, though.
Acronis, maker of disk imaging and maintenance tools, recently released Acronis Privacy Expert Suite 9, which includes an effective 'malware' shield that alerts you when pernicious software attempts to infect your computer. Software updates are available on a daily basis to keep up with the ever-increasing threat posed by new types of spyware and malware. The updates, naturally, can be automated.
Most spyware reaches your computer through the Internet, though. So for those who are loathe to install a new software program, another way to address the spyware threat now exists in SiteAdvisor.
SiteAdvisor (http://www.siteadvisor.com) is a free service that will tell you whether a web site that you intend to visit could potentially infect your computer with spyware or malware. To use it, you just visit SiteAdvisor, type a Web address into the 'Look up a site report' box, and click Go.
Within seconds, SiteAdvisor returns a brief report about the site, informing you of whether any dangerous or undesirable surprises await you. This is a good tool to use if you're visiting a questionable site for the first time.
SiteAdvisor works by sending out hundreds of Web spiders or crawlers to sites around the Internet. These cyber-savvy snoops send back to SiteAdvisor information about which sites are waiting to cause trouble for you - either through depositing spyware or malware on your PC or by launching a phishing attack.
Vigilance is usually what's required to stay ahead of the combined threats posed by spam and spyware. But with tools such as those discussed here, you can let down your guard, just a little.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur