Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Where's a Super Hero when you need one?

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It’s a hostile environment out there, folks. Filled with thieves, robbers, and others that desire their chance to ruin your experience on the Internet. Thieves and robbers that want to steal you computer’s time, AND others that want to relieve you of your hard earned cash!

Is there anything that can be done to keep us safe? A super hero that will leap into the fight and ‘beat up’ the bad guys? Well, unfortunately, Wonder Dog and Superman don’t really exist. But never fear! There are things we CAN do to safe guard our systems and our bank accounts.

Let’s discuss the bank account thing first since that will take less and actually is easiest! I’m talking about the class of SPAM known as phishing. This is a Cyber crime! State and US Federal laws have been put in place to catch and stop these people. It’s a form of Fraud!

Someone writes an eMail that tells of an unfortunate or fortunate occurrence where millions of dollars are involved and you have either won a Lottery, have been chosen to be next of kin to some poor deceased person who left his or her millions in a foreign bank, or they need you to represent them in some business deal. All you need to do is give them your banking information, your name and address, and other personal information and they will contact you and tell you all about the situation. Don’t do it!! They will ask you to go somewhere, taking an amount of money to pay ‘legal’ fees or some such thing. They take the money and it’s payday for them and you lose! You’ll never see the money again, nor will you be contacted again. Or if you are, it’s to pay out more cash! These folks prey on any one they can find and there is no huge fund of money in a bank somewhere just waiting for you. There isn’t a lottery involved. All that’s involved is relieving you of your cash, and that isn’t good.

What to do with these things? You can do three things to fight this junk. First, don’t respond! If you want to check out the validity of the eMail, don’t. It could be another avenue of theirs to get you involved in supporting their life style. Secondly, see if your local police have an Anti Fraud or Computer/Cyber Crimes Unit and contact them. This stuff is grist for their mill. In other words, it’s what they are there for. Get in touch with them, forward the eMail to them, whatever it takes. Let them ‘follow up’. If it’s legitimate, they’ll let you know. If not, they’ll catch them and put a stop to it. If you don’t want to do that, then ignore the eMail; delete it. Do nothing!

I read an article from Bob Rankin today where he says the biggest cause of Viruses, Spyware, and adware is an uninformed user community. He calls them ‘etards’. Unfortunately, he’s right. Yes, the term is mildly insulting, but we all know people that do idiotic things like respond to SPAM, buy from adware, and respond to phishing eMails. Do they get what they deserve? I say “No!” We need to see to it that our friends and families understand that their responses encourage more of this junk. After all, doesn’t it make more sense to buy products from a local merchant than some faceless business that throws an popup ad on the computer? The local business will be there if you need them while the other guys are miles, maybe even oceans away. I have to tell you, I can find most things I want or need locally so I don’t need to buy from a SPAMMER that is selling anything. If I have to go on-line for something, I shop around and if the deal looks good and the name is well known, I will buy over the internet.

So spread the word! Let’s become those super heroes and help stomp out the stuff that slows down, gets in the way, and damages our computers and our lifestyles!.

You know, when I started this posting, I was intending to write about Firewall software. I guess the ‘Soap Box Syndrome’ sort of took over. I’ll do the Firewall next so watch for it.

Be careful out there. But, no matter what else happens, HAVE FUN!