New Digital Spam: How Bad Guys Try to Trick You; How to Avoid the Traps

The latest forms of digital spam include clickjacking, junk apps, bad QR codes, and much more. Here's what you can do to stay safe.

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And though Apple screens apps before permitting them inside its walled garden, bad ones do sometimes get through. An app claiming to be the 4.0 version of the Camera+ app gained access to Apple's App Store; last month, it was busted as a fake. The real Camera+, created by developer Tap Tap Tap, sells for the same price, but it's only at version 2.4.

Advice: Try to be discerning about the applications you install on your computing devices, even if they come from the Apple App Store. Malicious code has snuck in on occasion, too. Since disgruntled mobile users are usually quick to give negative feedback on apps, I'd recommend that you never download anything that has a one- or two-star rating.

Push Notification Ads

Thousands of Android apps shove marketing icons onto your phone's start screen or push advertising into your notification bar, often without warning. By bundling their adware into popular Android programs, marketing companies may push ads to millions of new smartphones each week.

Most Android users hate the swarm of marketing on their touchscreens, though they may not have a clue why the ads are showing up on their phones. Unfortunately, getting rid of the adware after your phone is invaded can be difficult, since you probably won't know which app snuck it onto your handset.

Advice: Sometimes you can opt out of receiving the ads, but the mechanism for doing so may not be there or may be hard to find. If you can figure out which marketing firm is pushing you ads, try visiting its website. Sometimes the company gives consumers a way to opt out of receiving ads from them.

Audible Spam

I have a friend who says that there's a special place in hell reserved for websites that launch music when you land on them.

While I wouldn't go that far, commercial websites that automatically start playing music, noisy ads, or some type of sound when you visit them are annoying. Either you're at work and it's inappropriate, or you're listening to music and don't need a sound war to break out. Since I like to work in complete silence, I find these loud interruptions especially jarring.

Advice: To get around noise pollution while browsing, keep your volume muted. And while you're at it, why not leave feedback at the site indicating how much its audible spam bothers you?

Not Going Away Anytime Soon

The problem of spam is not likely to disappear. But by being vigilant about where you stray online and about what information you give to others, you can at least avoid inadvertantly contributing to the ugliness yourself.

What spam bugs you the most? Let us know in the comments below.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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