I write about awareness from time-to-time, usually in reference to self-defense and carrying a firearm. This article is about being careful online. I’ve been developing web applications and databases for more than a quarter of a century, so I take it for granted sometimes that people know this stuff, but others don’t live in the cyber-world as much as I do, so perhaps sharing a few observations might help some of you. Most of this is in reference to emails.
- Anything and everything that tells you to view it before it is “Banned” should be considered bogus. Especially if it says before Obama or the government bans it. We have freedom of the press in this country. Nobody can ban anything. Yes, Google or You-Tube can remove stuff they find offensive (translate: conservative), but they really can’t ban it. It can always resurface on a private server somewhere and probably has. “Banned” is not a part of America, except perhaps in schools.
- Emails that say they’re from Fox News, CNN, CBS, ABC or MSNBC are not. They’re from somebody trying to sell you something.
- All of those videos you need to watch before they are banned have a sales pitch at the end. ALL of THEM!
- Any email that asks you to verify your financial or personal information by entering it is what’s called a phishing email. It’s bogus and it’s trying to get you to reveal your personal or financial information so they can steal it.
- Emails don’t necessarily come from who it says they are from in the “From” box. You can put anything in there when you set up an email address.
- Links in an email don’t necessarily go where the link says it goes. For example, say you get an email from American Express wanting you to verify your account. There’s probably a link in the email you’re supposed to click on. It may say something like http://www.amex.com/account info. But if you hover your mouse over the link (don’t click on it, just hover the mouse over it) it you can see where the link really goes. It probably says something like http://firstname.lastname@example.org. Wow, right while I was posting this I got one of those emails. It said it was from USAA and in order to verify the integrity of my accounts it wanted me to verify my information by logging into: ussaa.com – that’s what the hyper link said. But guess where it went? To cinespots.com/www.usaa.com/. The real address there is cinespots.com, not usaa.com. That may look like a real website, but I guarantee you it’s not USAA’s website and I’m not going there!
- Spammers have the ability to hijack the email addresses in our email accounts and send out bogus emails to everyone in the list. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. These emails will appear to come from someone you know and they will have a link in them an nothing more, except maybe one sentence that says something like “Check this out:” followed by a link that is almost always dangerous or trying to sell you something. Please don’t click on these links when you get something like that.
- While it’s true we have the very real potential for terrorist activity in our county any day, and there is always the possibility of economic collapse, most of the messages of impending doom are really just trying to get you to send them money. No matter how great you think the cause is, find out who the organization is behind it and how much they really spend on what they say they do.
Please, be careful, be suspicious, and as much as you may dislike or like the current Commander-in-Chief, he really doesn’t have the power to create new HARP programs to get you a better mortgage rate, forgive your student loans, and all the other things that he is credited for or blamed for on a daily basis.