Beware links in emails

Links may not deliver the result you expect.

With the holiday season, we can expect to receive deceptive emails that try to trick us into clicking links to bogus web sites. These emails are sent by the millions and you may receive one despite your email provider’s best efforts to protect you from malicious emails.

There are many tricks that scammers use to get you to read, and ultimately click, their ‘bait’ email. The often will use a current event or an interesting celebrity to entice you into opening their email in the first place, then tantalize you with some sneaky message that lures you into clicking their special link.

Often, the scam is simple. Find some nice person and tell them a sad story to beg for assistance. Find a celebrity and send messages that you have a secret mail from the celebrity or some special offers about the celebrity. It often is some promise of a picture or a video. The fraudsters often play on your emotions with subtle, leading headlines and subjects.

Usually these bad guys are seeking to steal your money, or get you to help them in some criminal plan that makes them money. The worst are those seeking to steal your identity or uncover personal information.

• Be wary of any email from an unknown sender. Real emails are consistent, the sender’s name and email address should match.
• Be suspicious of an email from someone you know, but which is not typical for them, such as a personal request from a distant associate.
• Never trust emails asking you to go to a web site to get more information.
• Scammers often rely on honest people who want to help in an hour of need.
• If you get an email that seems to be legitimate, you can contact the company by looking up their phone number from an official phone book.
• If you get any mail asking for information about your workplace, what you do, who you know, or for any inside information about yourself, be very wary.
• Official correspondence from outside agencies can always be confirmed by calling the agency or the contact who is claiming to write you.
• If you get an email that provides you with names, addresses and phone numbers, you cannot assume that the mail really came from that person or agency.

In particular, beware “Phishing Scams”

Phishing scams are usually operated through a seemingly authentic e-mail to a victim. The message appears to have been sent from a reliable source, like your bank or a national organization. Scammers may claim that a bank account has been compromised and that you need to verify your information in order to access your account again. The link that appears in the message is designed to fool you. It actually leads you to a website that is crafted to appear to be the real web site (for instance a bank or a company you do business with).

To fool you, the website is a copycat page with a form to fill in with your log-in and personal information.

Scammers then obtain your log-in, billing, and private information to store for fraudulent purposes.

Banks and professional organizations usually do not use an e-mail when their customers’ accounts are compromised. If you are in doubt, call Customer Service for the bank or company. If the email contains a phone number for the bank, do not trust it. Look the organization up at an official listing service and call Customer Service directly to report a suspicious email.

Always contact the establishment by phone or postal mail if you receive any e-mail that appears questionable.

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Dire Warning – My Advice to Web Surfers

Welcome to the Internet, a wonderful place that it’s inventors envisioned as a system to put full encyclopedias of knowledge at your fingertips.

Best of Intentions

Modern technologies offer us a wealth of enticing services all delivered by your ability to access the internet. Some people have compared the internet to a superhighway of information.

 

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The lofty ambitions of the scientists who created the world wide web were to deliver authorative references to research, permit collaboration between research teams and to deliver a scientific reference to scientific papers and later, class room notes and even full course textbooks.

 

Enter the Dark Side

However, commercial corporations looked upon this ability to communicate and sought to use it for profit purposes. Unwary public servants were swayed by the promises of economic revolution, and allowed the internet to become a commercial enterprise.

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The influence of the corporations assured favorable regulation for corporations who quickly purchased media components so they could have a share of the upcoming wealth.  Many checks were written, many favors were cashed.

 

The Worm Turns

Several years after the commercialization of the internet we see that it has become a communications medium delivering ignorance and celebrating public folly.  Anonymous trolls dispense vitriolic arguments unrelated to any intelligent discourse that dilute the value of public forums.  To the point that we now expect public forums to be packed with hate speech and slander.

Instead of enriching our lives the internet has now become a dark hole full of hateful monsters that intrudes into our lives, and our children’s lives, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So how do we counsel our children to not be affected by the well of ignorance that the internet has become? We shall explore that in further chapters.

 

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We like to think that only bad people have anything to fear from authorities. The naïve user assumes that if they do nothing wrong, they will never have to defend themselves from any investigations. Experience proves otherwise. Totally innocent people have had their lives intruded by authorities following false leads in digital cases. Your identity can be used to commit a crime without your knowledge and you can be investigated for things you never even knew existed.

 

Don’t Be a Victim!

Did you know that criminals can intrude your computer through the internet and then use your system to commit acts against other computers. Of course, when the digital evidence is examined, the authorities will come to you. Even if you are totally guilt free you can be intimidated and harassed. You can be fined or denied service by the determination of a company or agency who you never get to see or talk to, in a hearing you do not even know is happening. You need to protect yourself, even if you are a straight-arrow, obey the rules person. We shall discuss that as well.

Tell Your Friends to Watch This Space!

We have come to rely on this invention, but we have to understand its risks if we are to use it wisely.

And safely. 

Stay tuned, I will have more to say soon.

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