Remember viruses in the good old days (like the mid 90’s)? If you inserted an infected floppy disk into your computer, you were likely to catch the infection. Well, pretty much nobody has floppy disks anymore. Remember how viruses were typically spread a few years ago (and still are)? If you opened an infected attachment in an email that you received, the results were not likely to be pleasant. Well, people have started to understand this threat and are typically much more careful about opening attachments.
Unfortunately, the villains evolve along with the technology and as the knowledge of users increases. The rogues who want to infect us with their malware
(malicious software) are now very often trying to take advantage of the most vulnerable component of our systems. What is the most vulnerable component? The person sitting at the keyboard (or gesturing on the touch screen). This trend to try to fool us all is called “Social Engineering” and is worth being very aware of.
Let me offer an example. This morning, I received an email from Yahoo informing me that my email account needed to be updated, or that my email service would cease to work as of today! This email looked very official, and had an “update” button prominently displayed. The only problem … this email is completely fraudulent. I do not know what would have happened if I had indeed clicked on the update button, but I can assure you that I do not want to find out. Here are some clues that an email may be fake:
- There are spelling or grammar errors
- There is a tone of threat or fear involved
- The email address of the sender is suspicious in nature
- The link that you are being directed to click on is also suspicious in nature (hover your mouse over the link without clicking and see what the destination address is)
There are so many scams out there trying to fool us all. Fake notices about packages that couldn’t be delivered. Notices that you have an EZ Pass toll violation. Urgent promptings to update some software or hardware on your computer. Warnings that you have computer errors that need to be fixed now. And who can forget your friend that has travelled to Nigeria and urgently needs money to return home! The list is pretty much endless.
The villains have gotten very good at Social Engineering. Be extremely cautious when being asked to click on something or take some action on your computer. Always err on the side of caution. If you are not sure that something is legitimate, there is a very good chance it may not be.
We all need to evolve in our awareness. Don’t use infected floppies, don’t download questionable attachments, and don’t be Socially Engineered!