Lessons Learned and The Importance of Unique Passwords

On December 11th, 2010 the blog Gawker was attacked by cyber criminals who were able to penetrate Gawker’s systems and steal their subscriber’s user names and passwords. The following day, criminals posted this information on the internet, posting over a million usernames and passwords. Many individuals used the same user name and password on the Gawker site as they did on consumer email, banking and other platforms. Hackers began using the posted information to begin randomly checking the compromised usernames and passwords on popular social networking, banking and internet service provider log in sites.
While it is easier to utilize just one user name and password for all of your online activity, this increases your online risk if your online credentials end up in the hands of a criminal. EarthLink recommends using a unique user name and passwords for all sites you use on the web.
Other security tips include:

Understanding the 419 scam

The 419 or advance fee fraud is one of the most commonly perpetrated scams on the internet. The scam involves offering a large payout to victims if the victim makes a smaller investment. The number “419″ refers to the article of Nigerian law covering this type of criminal activity. Don’t think that all these scammers are from Nigeria though. This type of fraud is a worldwide issue and con artists using this scam steal millions of dollars every year.
Criminals send an email offering payment to deposit checks or soliciting the victim to pay for legal fees to cover their expenses to send the victim an inheritance. In 2008, a US citizen lost $400,000 to a 419, after an e-mail told her she had inherited money from her long-lost grandfather. 419s are generally pretty easy to spot if you know what to look for. The messages stress the urgency of the request and the need to keep the transaction confidential. The criminal may claim to be a member of a foreign government or bank. Often victims will fulfill multiple requests for money or travel to a foreign nation where the criminals operate.
Report these scams to using webmail http://support.earthlink.net/articles/email/how-to-report-spam-fraud-and-phisher-emails.php

Protecting Your Computer from Malware

Computer viruses, worms, spyware and Trojan horses (aka Trojans) are all types of malicious software or malware.
Computer viruses can damage your computer or install software without your knowledge. Computer viruses are generally transmitted as email attachments or through USB flash drives. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on your computer, use your e-mail program to spread itself to other computers, or even erase files on your hard drive.
Computer worms are designed to spread from computer to computer across a network usually without any human interaction. Worms exploit vulnerabilities (like weak passwords or software bugs) to gain access to a target computer.

Continue reading