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Security while using MSN Messenger

MSN Messenger is one of the most popular targets for hackers, viruses and various scammers.

Viruses
Most of the MSN viruses spread as simple messages. For example, you could see a chat from a friend which says "hey check this pic out!" followed by a link to a picture or a file sharing request. Upon clicking on this link, a virus will be downloaded to your computer and it will immediately start sending these links to your friends in your contact list. This is how these viruses spread really quickly.

Some common symptoms of a computer virus infection are:

  • Slower than usual execution of common tasks
  • Pop-ups and unwanted spam advertisements
  • Inability to change system settings
  • Deactivation of your existing Antivirus
  • Slower access to the network
  • High memory and internet data usage even when the computer is idle

There are a lot of ways to protect yourself from a virus, such as:

  • Do not click on suspicious links
  • Always keep your antivirus up to date
  • Scan your computer frequently
  • Remove unused software frequently
  • Use a pop-up blocker

While using MSN messenger, it is important to use common sense while clicking on links, because they may be malicious. It may cause loss of data and security and can also be responsible for losing your reputation amongst friends and business clients. They may block you for sending them spam or even report you to Microsoft who may disable your account.


Scams
The most common scam is when a stranger adds you to their contact list, usually with a display picture of a hot girl and a promiscious Live ID. Then they attempt to strike up a conversation with you, which quickly turns into an offer for visiting their webcam videochat, "which only needs a credit card to verify you are over 18".
Obviously, this is a scam to cheat you out of your money by signing you up for some unwanted adult service, or simply steal your credit card information.
Make sure to use common sense when talking to strangers. Also, sometimes it is easy to detect these scams, because often they are not human, but rather software programs, or "bots". They usually follow a set script, so if something in your dialogue does not make sense, you are probably talking to one of these bots, so stay away.
You may choose to use the "Block and report abuse" function in your MSN Messenger to deal with these scammers.

Other types of MSN Messenger scams include "phishing" scams - you can learn more about them here.


Avoid Giving Out Your Username or Password
You may receive an instant message or an email from an official-looking Live IDs that might request you to "confirm" your username and password for "account maintenance" or "security reasons". Please keep in mind that real MSN Live staff whould never contact you to provide such information so, if somebody from ID such as "MSNAdmin" or similar is trying to get you to disclose these details, you should avoid answering and add this ID to the ignore/block list.

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Already itching to install cool add-ons for your instant messengers? Learn about Mindspark's addon SmileyCentral, or the Iminent addon from Iminent SA. Smilies General are another alternative.
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