How often have you gotten an e-mail message from your friend that, when you open it, consists of an advertisement and link to an herbal supplement, weight-loss Web site or impotence drug? The odds are your friend’s e-mail account could have been hacked or spoofed. Never click the links found in these suspicious messages.
As the New York Times explained in its Gadgetwise column, this is a on going threat. Often, hackers infect people’s computers with malware that attempts to spread itself by sending messages to the e-mail accounts in their address books.
Other times, hackers will attempt to forge e-mail addresses to trick recipients into opening them. Then there are those advanced hackers who gain control over other people’s computers and then use them to send out waves of spam messages.
You can protect yourself by never following the links in e-mails that, despite who supposedly sent them, appear suspicious. It’s also wise to contact your friend right away. Such victims might not know they’ve been hacked. The Times also recommends that you protect your computer with up-to-date anti-virus software.