Over the holidays I decided to install a nice Christmas tree screensaver for my wife. She likes that kind of hokey stuff, and it looked pretty innocuous. So I downloaded it and installed it, and politely told it NO every time it wanted to load this other thing, and that thing, and this third thing, and what is my email address, and fifteen other things.
So finally I've got it installed, and it looks nice, and my wife likes it. But immediately, my Mcafee Anti Virus did not like it. Mcafee said it was a Potentially Unwanted Program, and I should get rid of it. I did a quick scan of running services, saw nothing suspicious, and decided to let it run it's course. My wife was happy, and that makes me fairly happy.
Until I check my Gmail account.
I always give out my gmail account to any web site, program, or registration that simply must have an email address. Prior to installing this software, that account had stayed relatively spam-free. Now, the day after installing this harmless little screensaver, I had fifteen spam messages. The next day, thirty. It's leveled off some in the ensuing weeks, but rare is the day I get less than ten.
At the office we sit behind Postini, which works so well I had almost forgotten what thirty spam messages a day is like. Now I know again.
In the long run, the brief days of happiness over a screen saver are worth the pain. I knew I'd be paying a price when I clicked OK on the "free" download, and Gmail does a fine job of quarantining spam. Now I just have to give it a quick glance to make sure nothing important is in there.