6 Ways to Spot Spam

1. Requests for Personal Information
No professional organization will ask for your social security, bank, check, or PIN number in an e-mail.  Mark these emails as SPAM and delete them promptly without responding.

2. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
The worse the spelling and grammar, the more likely it’s a SPAM email.  Delete and move on.

3. Click-able Links
Don’t trust links in e-mails. What might look like a legitimate link is often linked to a third-party site that looks official, but is actually run by the emailing scammers.  For example, if you get an email that looks like it’s from your bank telling you your account is closed, type your usualy banking URL into your browser to check it directly (instead of clicking the link in the email).  You may find that the email is SPAM.  Mark it as such and delete it.

4. Attachments in e-mails from anyone you don’t know
Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know. It’s likely a virus or spyware that will sit on your computer to steal your personal information.

5. Outdated Info
Some scammers like to pretend to be customer support from a company you trust, but slip up when it comes to accuracy. For example, in the picture, the  below, the spammers forgot Earthlink bought Mindspring in 2000.

6. Alarming Phrases
“Verify your account,” “you won!” or “if you don’t respond in __ hours, your account will be locked” are phrases that ONLY appear in SPAM.  Mark it and delete without clicking or replying.

Phishers and Scammers are Getting Smarter…Are You?

Most of us have heard of the term phishing and have probably been attacked by it more than once. Phishing is attempting to acquire information from users while posing as a trustworthy individual in an electronic communication.  “Phishing” generally refers to attacks in your email inbox, but there are three others to know of: vishing, smishing, and whaling.

“Vishing” is a phishing attack on your VoIP (voice over IP) phone.  If you don’t have a VoIP phone then you are not at risk, as land lines are not susceptible to this kind of attack. Like phising, a message sent to a thousand possible emails, vishing is sent to a thousand possible VoIP phones.  Vishing happens when victims receive voice messages asking to contact their bank about fraudulent bank account activity.  The attack is successful when users call the number and are then prompted by voice commands to enter personal information, or they are connected with someone appearing to be a bank representative. Providing information can then lead to stolen credit card numbers, or full-on identity theft.

“Smishing” is a phishing attack on your mobile phone via text messaging or Short Message Service (SMS) messaging.  Same concept as above, text messages are sent to your phone asking you to go to a website or call a number where you are met by someone attempting to steal your personal and critical information.

Finally, “whaling” is a specified attack on senior business leaders.  These attacks are more specific, as scammers are doing their homework and compiling business email addresses, job titles, direct telephone numbers, and reporting employee names of business executives and compiling direct attacks over email.  Executives are prone to fall to these attacks as the information in the emails leads them to believe the messages are legit.  The email message may contain and attachment or point executives to a website, where once clicked, a program is downloaded to the user’s PC and confidential information is then compromised.  This attack is a little different as the scammers are not only interested in obtaining personal information on the user, but are also after confidential and proprietary information of the company.

A lot of successful phishing attacks go unreported because the victims don’t want to appear gullible enough to be stooped by these attacks.  Sometimes we throw logic reason out the door and fall, even though we think we are too smart to do so.  Continue to delete the emails, but also remember to delete the voicemails and the text messages.  And remember, if you have a small suspicion that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t!

EarthLink IT Services offers numerous security services to protect against these attacks.  Check out our security service product suite HERE!

The Epsilon Breach and How It May Affect You

Advertising firm Epsilon recently was the victim of a cyber attack. The company has reported that their mailing lists may have been compromised in this attack. Meaning criminals may now have access to millions of personal email addresses and what companies they do business with. Continue reading

Reminder: Beware of IRS Phisher Emails and Websites During Tax Season

Cyber criminals are always looking for new ways to target and exploit unsuspecting victims. Some criminals use phishers which are fraudulent web sites or emails that trick unsuspecting victims into providing sensitive financial information. Each year during tax season, be on the lookout for unusual emails that appear to be from the IRS.
Find out more about IRS Phishers here.