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Just looking at spam may be safe... if you know how to take the proper precautions.
I'm interested in looking at what junk and spam I'm getting without jeopardizing myself. So I download mail in Gmail and Hotmail messages in Outlook Express and read them there. Both are good at weeding out spam and junk. They keep these for 30 days and then delete them. I want to read these at least on the Gmail or Hotmail web pages, just read and not click on anything. Is this dangerous? Might I get a malware or spyware foisted on me without my knowledge?
In this excerpt from Answercast #96 I look at safety precautions to take if you ever want to look at spam emails.
In general, as long as you are very careful not to click on anything in those messages; never enable the display of images in those messages; and never reply to any of those messages - what you're describing is usually pretty safe to do.
In fact, you can do it on the web or in your email program. Whichever one is more comfortable for you.
I tend to do it from time to time when I'm curious about where spam comes from.
In other words, I'll go over to my spam folder, I'll take a look at that the spam that I happen to be curious about. I'll open it; I won't reply to it; I won't enable images; and I won't click on any of the links - but I will "view source."
Depending on your email program, there are different ways to do that - but that will let you see the full headers and the HTML underlying the email message and so forth. Those typically are safe things to do.
Simply be very careful not to do anything that would cause anything to happen such as: replies, clicking on links, showing images.
Now. I didn't say it because it seems pretty obvious - but I'll say it anyway. Don't ever open any attachment that comes with spam.
Just don't. Those are too dangerous. There are ways for people to open them safely but they are not things that I feel in any way comfortable recommending to anybody. Attachments are things that you really need to take some extra steps before you open - so avoid the attachments.
But go ahead and have a look at the body. Just make sure nothing "happens".
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 96- How should I deal with two different programs that handle the same file extension?
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