2003 - The Year of SPAM

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If you're tired of all those unsolicited messages showing up in your email inbox, you may be encouraged to hear about a new federal law tackling SPAM. However, it might not be a total cure.

The new law signed by President George Bush has some teeth in it, with stiff civil and even criminal penalties, but “Spammers” aren't worried. Many work offshore and know enforcement will be tough.

So, how do you keep from opening up an email that may contain a virus? We asked two computer experts. "They are getting increasingly sophisticated, harder and harder to detect, and they're getting more and more malicious," says Herb Lin, a senior scientist at the National Academy of Science.

And Robin Raskin, a technology reporter, says Internet service providers will offer built-in, “turnkey” services to help you keep safe. For example, MSN says it will send users updated virus protection, SPAM, and firewall protection in 2004.

And while scams threaten your financial data, your personal memories are also at risk.
"Certainly, one of the most important threats to your computer is losing precious irreplaceable information. Some of that information is things like photographs of your child of many years ago, and there's no way of recreating those photographs," says Raskin.

People also store music, family video, and even TV shows on their computers. So Raskin suggests “backup.” "Two good ways to back up your data are to use PCx like the new media PCs. The Gateway 610 has a writable DVD so you can store everything right to DVD, or to use an external hard drive, like the one from Maxtor, that has a one touch button."

Besides protecting your data, make sure you have safe access to your computer information while you’re away from home. Services like Go To My PC let you access your own desktop computer wherever you are, from any computer.

Some experts say by the end of next year, nine out of every 10 messages in your inbox will be SPAM. So, be choosy about giving out your email address. Another tip: spell out your address without using the “@” symbol. That makes it harder for a computer to pick up.