Spams, scams, phishing and other annoyances

Scammer with Credit Card
Image from Which? April 2015

I know from my family and friends that there is nothing that worries the older IT user more than harming their computer by opening an email that starts a virus attack on their computer, or they are they are subjected to an email scam that will leave them short of money at best, and with compromised bank accounts at worst. I wanted to bring this excellent short article from April 2015 in Which? to your attention. It summarises the Top five UK email scams. Definitely ones to be on the look out for!

My golden rule as I mentioned in the previous post is “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.

Luckily these days the scammers and phishers have to rely on you actively letting them have access far more than used to be the case. Most (if not all) email programs and anti-virus software (as long as you keep it up to datevery important) are adept at picking out the genuinely evil messages which can do harm to your computer. So “you can look but you better not touch” to paraphrase the words from a Bruce Springsteen song. Just don’t click on a link – however inviting – in an email if you have any doubts, however small, of the sender’s authenticity!

I also wanted to tell you about this rather useful resource from Pat Howe which kept a running list of all known threats up until the end of 2014. He left his mail servers open to the possibility of threat to harvest all the attacks. All of them, or variants of them, are still around, so if you have any doubt about a message you receive, you can always check-it-out on Pat’s website.

An American resource that is also useful in defining the threats can be found at Stay Safe Online and their page on Spam and Phishing is worth a look, but for a UK slant (as mentioned in my last post) the best starting point is Get Safe Online and they have a page on Spam and Scam eMail which I also recommend looking at.

It’s a huge shame that we’re bedevilled with spam, scams and phishers, just as we’re hassled by cold telephone callers. Technology has brought us a load of benefits but with those it has also enabled those with a criminal, or just malicious, bent to make our lives a misery.

What you will learn hopefully from these blog posts is that good habits are our best hope for getting the most beneficial use from using IT. There’s nothing really to fear as long as you start from a naturally cautious stance, and you have reasonable organisational skills and a willingness to embrace a bit of logic :-).