One of the scourges of modern life, spam is a nuisance that many of us have just come to accept as our lives become increasingly reliant on electronic communications.

Unsolicited messages and advertisements are nothing new. We’ve all had unwanted leaflets clogging up our mail boxes and annoying phone calls offering double glazing, cable TV or a new credit card.

But when it comes to spam – unsolicited electronic messages sent in huge bulks – a more sinister background often lies behind that annoying advert, whether it’s an offer of Viagra, an enlargement of certain body parts or the opportunity to increase your stocks portfolio.

Named after a famous Monty Python joke, spam is big business for those that send it. Whilst very few emails actually result in a sale, the low costs associated with sending a mass of messages at the touch of a button mean, be they email, text message, fax, forum or blog posts, newsgroup posts or instant messages, make it extremely lucrative. The estimated global cost of spam, including costs and manpower to deal with the problem, has been put at US$107bn.

Of course, responding to or even receiving spam could result in you getting much, much more than you bargained for, with spam being increasingly used as a means of distributing far more than just annoying adverts, which is where an antivirus software program with anti-spam functions could come into its own.

There is a growing trend for spam to be used as a means of distributing all manner of malicious software, spyware, Trojans, viruses and phishing scams. Links directing users to websites designed specifically to infect PC’s with spyware and Trojans or to convince us to share our most sensitive information.

Avoiding spam, as Mrs Bun in the Monty Python sketch found out in the 1970’s, is impossible although of course, little did the writers back then know that a joke about canned meat would take on such a different meaning today. All that you can do is take preventative measures to minimise your exposure to the risks that it poses.

Installing antivirus software that includes an anti-spam feature is essential. Even the best of us can be fooled from time to time and so having an anti-spam program scan your emails to identify any rouge messages gives you that added level of protection. The anti-spam feature found in K7 TotalSecurity is also complimented by anti-phishing measures which highlight any suspicious looking websites that request sensitive information.

In the rare event that some do slip past the anti-spam security checkpoint, remain vigilant. Be suspicious of any unexpected emails and, if in doubt, delete it from your inbox. In most cases, if a person needs to contact you for legitimate reasons, they make another effort to get in touch.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.

If you want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, please submit the form below.