I received a question from a subscriber who was concerned that his computer had been used to send spam during the night.
Night before last, I left my computer on, something I normally do not do, and beginning about 2:30 A.M., about 20 emails were sent out from my account to everyone on my contacts list. The emails contained a link to different sites with ads for sexually oriented products.
I am on AT&T U-verse with wireless connection to their router. The network is password protected, but the computer was on and connected to the internet using Google Chrome. I have always had the computer remember my id and password to my email account.
When I realized what had happened, I sent out emails to my entire contact list warning them not to open the strange emails. Some of my contacts had already opened them.
I also had Vipre make a deep scan, and nothing turned up.
My questions are:
How did this happen?
How can I prevent it from happening again?
Is it likely my computer and those of my friends that opened the emails now a virus?
Thanks for your help,
Wayne wrote me from a yahoo.com account, so that gave me a hint. I also knew that his ISP (AT&T) had shifted its users to Yahoo.com email accounts several years ago, so, again I suspected that I knew what had happened.
I wrote back to Wayne to tell him that, assuming the emails were sent from his yahoo.com account, I would not assume his computer was the problem.
Apparently a lot of yahoo.com accounts have been hacked recently. I’ve received junk emails from yahoo accounts recently – that show they are coming from the yahoo mailservers, not simply junk emails from a strange mailserver that have a yahoo.com return address (which can easily be faked).
I recommended that Wayne change his password on his yahoo.com account and use something that is random letters and numbers.
For a cross-check on his computer, I suggested that he download the free Malwarebytes version from www.malwarebytes.com . It is a run-on-request scanner that has been recommended by GFI/Sunbelt as an secondary scanner.
Note that you should not have two "always running" antivirus / antimalware programs running at the same time — they can fight each other, as each tries to be the first to check each file and program that Windows touches.