A little over a week into the semester and students, faculty and staff may have noticed an increase in spam and hoax e-mail messages crowding the inbox of UNM e-mail users. Spammers often target universities around the beginning of a new semester, hoping to get at least one new student or professor to fall for their cyber scams. IT offers several tips to help you keep your e-mail and computer free of spyware, malware and hoax e-mail messages.

1. Never click on a link in an e-mail message, and always be suspicious of links in e-mails. This is one of the most common ways that viruses and spyware are spread. Instead, open up a new browser window and type in the link URL address.

2. Always know who is sending you messages. Spammers have many new ways of spoofing a sender's e-mail address, so even if the message looks like it's from someone you know, it might not be. If you don't know the sender, or if the message appears strange, or the subject line is too general (even if it looks like a message from a friend), just don't open the e-mail!

3. Always have antivirus software and a firewall installed on your computer. Antivirus software regularly scans your computer system, targeting and quarantining possible viruses. A firewall can help to keep criminals from getting into your system and taking confidential, personal information such as your SSN, bank and financial information, and passwords. UNM IT offers Symantec Antivirus Software at no cost to all UNM students, faculty and staff. Visit IT Downloads to get this free software onto your system.

4. Use common sense. If you ever receive any kind of e-mail asking for your user name, password, bank account number, PIN, be suspicious. Think of it this way. If it's not information you'd give to a stranger on the street or over the phone, don't give it out in an e-mail message.

There are many ways you can help protect your personal information, your computer and the UNM network. Visit. IT Security for more information.

Media contact: Vanessa Baca, 277-0987; e-mail: vjbaca1@unm.edu