This really isn’t anything new–I’ve long suspected spam was using ActiveX controls to infect computers with spyware and other unpleasantries, but now a spam message that infects your computer when you opt out is gaining publicity.The usual advice applies. Turn off the preview pane in Outlook/Outlook Express, if you must use a Microsoft program at all to read mail.

Install a spam filter. I used POPFile. Outclass allows POPFile to work with Outlook, even in Exchange Corporate Workgroup environments.

Consider getting a Yahoo mail account, or, if you ever happen to get an invitation, a Gmail account. They filter your spam for you and do a pretty good job, in my experience.

If spam gets through, don’t even open it. Tell me, why would any legitimate e-mail have a subject line like “Drugs online no prior prescription needed?” Or “Gen.eric Vioxx, Gen.eric Am.bien, Gen.eric Paxil, and more?”

And of course, get an antivirus program and keep the virus definitions up to date. Newer antivirus programs are even starting to detect and eliminate spyware, finally.

One person told me he reads and responds to all spam, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t get any e-mail. If you or someone you know reads spam out of loneliness, that’s curable too. Install a spam filter and then fill the void by going to Yahoo Groups and look for an active group on something that interests you. I think every single time I’ve gotten interested in something or someone’s asked me a question, I’ve found a Yahoo group that pertains to it. The person is almost guaranteed to learn something, and chances of making some new friends are pretty high.