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05 Mar 2007

Spam can be bad for your health

Slimming pills bought online can be dangerous for internet users

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned that computer users are putting their lives at risk if they purchase slimming pills marketed via spam.

Last week, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) confirmed that a growing number of women are buying appetite suppressing drugs over the internet in an attempt to lose weight. Almost 60 percent of all spam sent across the internet is in relation to medication and pills.

The sale of dietary supplements containing Ephedra is illegal in the USA, but this does not stop spammers promoting it as a weight-loss aid
The sale of dietary supplements containing Ephedra is illegal in the USA, but this does not stop spammers promoting it as a weight-loss aid.

"There are two big dangers in buying slimming pills over the internet. Firstly, you are buying drugs without medical advice which may be inappropriate for your physical condition and could do you more harm than good. Secondly, you have no guarantee that what you are actually buying is the real medication. It could be that the spammers are increasing their margins by selling you bogus medications that you may have an unpleasant reaction to," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Spammers don't care about people's health, they only care about their profits. If you have a medical problem consult a doctor, not an internet crook."

Sophos's Security Threat Report 2007 revealed that medical spam is the most commonly encountered type of spam, overshadowing stock spams and pornography.

"Spammers clog up the net with unwanted messages, making life harder for all email users and pushing goods onto the unwary," continued Cluley. "Weight-loss products are just one of many goods peddled by spammers, and many computer users faced by the growing mountain of spam would like to see spammers sent to jail for a diet of bread-and-water."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend against the threats of spam, spyware and viruses.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.