How to Tell If Your Computer Is Sending Spam?

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Spammers frequently use other computers, referred to as "zombies," to rapidly disperse mass emails without compromising their own identities and to evade spam blacklists. Prior to becoming a zombie computer, your computer must be infected by a worm or trojan that allows the spammer to gain control of your system. If you do not regularly update your Windows operating system and your antivirus software, actively run a firewall or take other basic security measures, it is possible that your computer is sending spam.

  • Check your email for bounced-back emails in your inbox or trash. Examine any "Delivery Failure" notices you receive. Check the header, the content of the message and the recipient.

  • Examine your computer for intense resource usage. Hold down "Ctrl" + "Alt" + "Del" at the same time, then select "Task Manager." Click on the "Performance" tab and check the "CPU usage." A high percentage of CPU usage may indicate that your computer has been infected.

  • Click on the "Networking" tab in Task Manager. Examine your "Network Utilization," and determine how often your computer is using your Internet connection. A high, consistent bandwidth usage may indicate that your computer is sending spam.

  • Try to update your antivirus definitions or to install an antivirus suite if you do not currently have one installed. Perform a full scan on your computer, if possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you cannot update or scan with your antivirus software, your computer has likely been compromised by a trojan or virus. Physically disconnect your computer from the Internet by unplugging the network cable, shutting down the modem and router or unplugging the dial up modem.
  • Always install the latest Windows updates. Keep your antivirus software up-to-date, and enable a firewall to protect your computer from trojans and other security risks.

References

  • Photo Credit cable modem image by IKO from Fotolia.com
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