Phishing. The sound of the word brings to mind a lazy sunday afternoon drowning worms and taking it easy with the idea that it’s not so much what you catch as it is that you get to relax and unwind while trying to do it. Then you look at the word and see the “PH” at the front of it instead of the “F”, then you know you’re not talking about relaxing at all, instead you’re getting ready to defend against an onslaught of attacks. Here’s a few simple tips to stay on the winning side in that fight.
Urls In Emails
Simply put, unless you *KNOW* that the email is legitimate, then just don’t click on them at all. In the case of sites like eBay or Paypal, you should always go to the site yourself, type the url into your browser yourself and login yourself. If they have something they want you to know about they’ll more than likely notify you as soon as you log on. This is true of nearly all legitimate websites.
Phony Security PopUps
Every once in a while I’m minding my own business, surfing along and all of a sudden I get a little popup in the middle of my screen that LOOKS like a windows security alert. The message on it is usually saying something to the effect that there is a potential for some kind of malware infestation and it offers to scan and / or disinfect your machine if only you’ll click the little button telling it to.
Those things are worthless. They’re nothing but adware that’s trying to sell you something that you can’t trust and don’t need. You’re better off by far in getting Anti-malware solutions from reputable sites. You can even get very good anti-malware utilities completely free, such as AVG and AVAST. Don’t pay for something you can get free!
Online Greeting Cards
Again, unless you know for certain, it’s better to just delete emails about online greeting cards or “e cards” as they’re sometimes called. If you think somebody might have actually sent you one, then it’s best to check with them FIRST, before clicking the link to pick it up. There are some legitimate e-card sites out there but an awful lot of them are just doing it to collect email addresses and whatever other information they can about you and the people you send the cards to so that they can use or sell that information in online marketing schemes. Don’t feed the spammer, avoid ’em unless you’re certain and even then, be wary of how much of what information you give them…. keep it to a minimum.
These are sites that LOOK legitimate but whose real purpose is to trick visitors into giving up information about themselves. They could be collecting anything from email addresses to credit card numbers and more. Firefox has a function that can alert you to possible phishing websites. On the “Tools” menu click “Options”, then on the “Security” tab, check the box next to “Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected forgery.” You can have it check against a downloaded list of suspect sites or by asking Google about every site you visit [**PRIVACY NOTE**, Doing this will increase your security against phishing sites but will also mean that your browsing activity will be completely known to Google. My personal choice is to leave this turned off and use the crap detector between my ears]
There’s a lot of programs out there that claim to be finding spyware or other malware when in fact they’re more of a problem than a cure. The best way to know for sure is to check any program you’re not certain of against a list of known “Rogue Software” at http://spywarewarrior.com
[Tags]online safety, safety tips, security tips, rouge software, phishing, malware, adware, spyware, ecards, online greeting cards[/tags]