Don’t be Phished

Another in the Computer Questions & Troubles series

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com
- advertisement -Click for more information

Many folks think hackers are geniuses who work technical magic to break into computers. They are wrong. From the secret labs of the PLA Unit 6138 in Shanghai, China, to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, to the Russian foreign intelligence office in Moscow, a single method is used to start almost every attack: phishing. Phishing is a hacker term for an email message that tricks the reader into allowing an invader into their computer system.

Entering a computer by cracking a password or slipping through a gap in the system’s security is possible, but it’s hard and risky, like changing house wiring without turning off the breakers. It takes time and skill, two resources that are always in short supply.

Phishing is much easier and almost everyone has the skills to do a little phishing if they get an aggressive or criminal itch.

Here’s a method that works often:

- Story continues after advertisement - Click for more information

 

  1. Open up an email account on a free email service with a fake name.
  2. Use the fake account to send an email asking for the username and password to someone’s bank account.
  3. Tell them a tale:
    • you’re from the bank and you need to fix something.
    • Or tell an older person that you are their grandchild and you want to help them.

Use your imagination. Think up something good. You’ll fail most of the time. But keep trying. Eventually you’ll find someone gullible at an unguarded moment.

Other phishing techniques are a little more difficult, but still easier than breaking in. Email attachments and hyperlinks can be used to secretly run little programs on your computer that invite attackers in.

But, in all seriousness, don’t try any of this. It’s against the law and odds are you will end up with in jail with your computer confiscated. I’m not telling you these tricks to encourage you to try them, but now that you know how it’s done, you can protect yourself.

  • Never reveal your credentials, like account usernames and passwords, in reply to an email. A legitimate service will never ask for credentials in an email.
  • Never open an email attachment unless you are absolutely certain of the source.
  • And don’t click on links in email unless you know how to check them for safety.

You still could be hacked, but by following these simple rules, you have entered the ranks of folks who are harder to hack.

- Story continues after advertisement - Click for more information


This article has been contributed to My Ferndale News by a member of the community. Click here if you would like information about being a contributor too.

Advertisements

Want to add to the story or have an opinion to share with the community?
Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.


Marvin Waschke
Waschke is a Ferndale native who grew up in a farmhouse on the farm his great-grandfather's family homesteaded. As a software architect, Waschke worked on IT management projects for close to 30 years. He has authored 3 books on computer technology including "Personal Cybersecurity" (available at the Ferndale Public Library) which addresses problems faced by individuals in a computing realm that is becoming increasing hostile to users. Waschke currently serves on the board of trustees of the Whatcom County Library System. ** Do you have a computer, website or related technology question? Marvin is available at the Ferndale Public Library the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month from 3pm to 4pm. No question is too big or too small. No matter what operating system, hardware brand, phone, tablet, or software you’re using. **