Archive for April 2010

Have You Been Phished?

Phishing (sounds just like fishing) is what thieves on the internet do to get your personal information. In fact, it is just like fishing – they use bait (and you are the fish.)

What does phishing look like? It can look like an email from your bank. They tell you that there has been suspicious activity with your bank account, and in order to avoid having the account frozen you need to click a link and verify your information on their web site. If you click the link, it will take you to a web page that looks just like your banks login page. You enter your username and password, you may then see a page saying thank you for validating your information, or you may see an error page that says please try again later. The problem is you didn’t actually go to your bank’s web site; instead you just gave your login information to the bad guys.

Another scheme frequently seen at this time of year is an email from the IRS and SURPRISE, it’s good news! You are eligible for a tax refund, and all you have to do is click on the link and submit your tax refund request. And oh, if you don’t respond within 48 hours they will assume the refund in invalid and it will be suspended. You’ll be in for another surprise when you later find out that it wasn’t really the IRS, and you gave your personal information, including your social security number to the bad guys.

Who are these bad guys? How come they don’t get caught? Well, you’ll find them in China, eastern European countries and Russia. That’s why you’ll often find these emails filled with poor or awkward grammar. They buy lists of email addresses and send them out by the millions. There are lots of “phish” in the ocean, but you only have to catch a few to make a lot of money.

How do you protect yourself from phishing attacks? First and most important, NEVER click on links in email. Even if you get an email from a friend, are you sure they intentionally sent it? Many viruses will scan through an address book and then send an email to everyone with a generic message like “this is so funny, check it out” or “did you see this video of you online?” If you’re not expecting the email, DON’T CLICK. The same goes for attachments. Don’t fall for fake messages from UPS, FedEx, etc. Ask yourself “did I give them my email address?” You probably didn’t, so you can be sure they didn’t send it.

The Internet is a big world filled with gleaming cities and dark alleys. As long as you’re aware that there are bad guys who are trying to steal from you, simple precautions and common sense will keep you safe.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems

“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

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