Compared to the growing dangers to the virtual world, the wild west might look like a sanctuary for kittens. Having my blog hacked by Russians, I know what I’m talking about. A common threat are emails that appear to come from friends. I fell for one the other day and my screen froze. My computer guru had to set me free. If you don’t have a guru, the FTC offers some useful advice about ransomware. (Click)
A new gambit making the rounds is called, “artisanal” spam. AARP printed an article on the subject recently, but the information bears repeating. As writer Sid Kircheimer explains, artisanal spam is sent out in small batches. (“Beware of Smart Spam,” by Sid Kircheimer, AARP Bulletin, November 2016, Vol 57, #9, pg. 12) Lower numbers allow messages to fly under the radar of junk mail filters. The correspondence looks personal and appears to come from a business you’ve contacted in the past. If your medical data has been breached, for example, you might receive spam disguised as a medical bill.
For hackers, Linked-in is as porous as wet sand. Kircheimer explains, once you click on the site you’re vulnerable to malware which sends your key strokes to spammers or those with criminal intent. Goodbye passwords for online accounts.
To reduce the likelihood of being hacked do as follows: inspect the address as well as the name of the email sender. “A long series of letters or words after ‘.com’” suggests you are connected to a spammer. If in doubt, verify the message by a separate email. Beware of requests to update your information online, even if you are a business customer. “Legitimate companies don’t ask you to click on a link,” says Kircheimer. They direct you to a websites. Be especially careful of emails pretending to come from credit card companies. They may look legitimate because they cite the beginning numbers of your account. But don’t be fooled. ‘…like phone numbers, many credit cards begin with the same digits.” (Ibid, pg. 12.)
P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a fool born every minute.” That wouldn’t be so bad if a crook wasn’t born every 30 seconds.