New Virus Makes YOU a Spammer!

Dennis Faas's picture

No matter how protected we think our computers are, no matter how much money we invest in acquiring the latest antivirus software, hackers still find a way to target our computers. While computer viruses are almost as old as computers themselves, a new type of spam has surfaced that not only victimizes computers, but shames the good name of the innocent end-user.

If you have experienced "undeliverable" email messages that bounce back into your inbox, or if you notice this happening in the near future, it may be the result of "backscatter".

The latest rave in the field of spamming is the creation and execution of a virus known as "backscatter spam". What it basically does is fill up email accounts with worthless clutter and slows down inbox activity to a virtual standstill.

"Backscatter" is sent to you once a spammer collects your information from a second virus source that specializes in extracting email accounts from random users.

What's different about the "backscatter" virus?

It stores your email address and sends junk mail (perhaps to friends, relatives and co-workers) that makes it look as if you are endorsing the products the spammer has attached to your name.

If that isn't bad enough, the spammer does not verify if the email addresses even exist. What that means is that every email message sent to a non-existent email account shows up in your inbox. This could be one or one million, depending on the number of email accounts the spammer has listed and due to the severity of the virus itself. Imagine the embarrassment after having friends and relatives open an email message that they believe is being sent by you, only to find advertisements for designer goods or explicit materials. (Source:

In response to "backscatter", a number of security administrators are now adopting a free technology standard called BATV (Bounce Address Tag Validation) to mark outgoing emails with virtual tags that check the validity of all undeliverable emails. (Source:

Still, analysts are advocating that the best way to avoid being the victim of "backscatter spam" (for the time being at least) is to keep up-to-date with the latest spam filters available online or at your favorite retail location.

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