Tips to Protect Against Spammers, Phishing and Viruses

May 17th, 2012 5:10 PM | No Comments

A friend of ours recently passed along these tips to help protect ourselves and each other from spammers, phishing and viruses.   We thought this list was worth sharing, with our friend’s permission (she wishes to remain anonymous…but she is not a spammer!) , so we’re sharing it here.  Although some of this is just common sense in today’s world, if you’re able to take away even one new idea that helps protect you and your information…then it’s a win.

Protect Yourself!

  • If you get an email, even from someone you know, with just a link and no text.. do not open it. Send the person an email or text message and ask if they sent it. Look at the time stamp on the email… was it sent at 4:00 am and you know your friend is not a night owl? Ask yourself some common sense questions and don’t get wrapped up in curiosity about where the link may take you.
  • Check your “sent mail” and “deleted mail” box frequently. If you see that, all of the sudden, you have “sent” out a bunch of emails that you don’t remember sending you may have picked up a virus that is spamming mail to your friends, family, etc.
  • If you do a variety of online banking with different accounts (ie. husband, wife, business or personal accounts), when possible, do not use the same computer for all of your banking needs. If that computer becomes infected than the virus can lift the passwords for all of your accounts. If you are using different computers you can limit the damage.
  • Social networking pages are one of the biggest ways to circulate viruses. Use updated virus protection when using them!
  • No computer or computer brand is excluded from being attacked by viruses.
  • Viruses are being created and circulates for smart phones. If you would not open it on your computer, don’t open it on your smart phone. Any operating system can become infected. Do not set your smart phone for “Auto Update”. When you get notified an update is due for your phone give it a few days before you do it. If an update is infected often it will hit the news to warn folks about it.
  • Your smart phone can pass a lot of information from the phone to your desktop and vice versa.. if you sync or tether your phone to your computer you could be exchanging virus information between the two. The same holds true for using jump drives between computers and phones.
  • If you are in a public place and connecting to WiFi.. know what network you should be looking for. For example, if you are in the ABC Airport find out the name of the airport service provider. If ABC Airport does not have a free wifi but you see “ABC Free WiFi” as a option.. STOP! What may be happening is someone is using their laptop as a service provider. Basically, that person has purchased the WiFi at ABC Airport but they are opening their computer up to be used as a login for the service. When you log in via their service they may have access to your computer. They can put a keystroke capture virus, spy ware, etc. on your computer. Even when you disconnect from the service your computer will still be infected. Be cautious of open WiFi networks.
  • Some websites will attempt to automatically access your computer when you visit them. They often install adware bugs that will cause a flurry of pop ups to appear on your screen. This adware will often allow for other programs with even more nefarious purposes to be installed and before you know it, your computer will be swamped. To stop these rogue websites, adjust the settings on your antivirus software and firewall so that no outside connections can be made and no programs can be installed without your express permission.
  • Be aware of instant messages. If you get a message from someone you don’t know.. or are not sure you know.. don’t click on the link offered. Also, do a little investigation… for example. If you get an IM from “John” and he says, “Hey, check out this link! You will love it.. too funny!” We just about all know someone named “John”. So first find out if this is the guy you know before clicking on the link. Send him and IM back asking him about something only he would know. .. ie: “I was just thinking about you.. wanted to ask you about the _____”
  • Use caution when looking for antivirus software. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get antivirus software and finding out you went to what you thought was an anti virus web page for the latest and greatest software only to find out you just downloaded a virus.
  • If you sell something via the internet.. remember.. personal checks, bank checks, cashier checks, money orders, etc. can all be faked. Insure your package when you ship it, track it, and get a signature at time of delivery. Some forgeries are so good it takes the banks a lot of time and work to figure out they are fake. Once the bank finds out the funds are not legit.. the funds will be removed from you even though you sold and shipped the item in good faith. Wire transfer is not fool proof either.. but the bank will verify funds before the money is sent.
  • If you get an email that asks you to “refund the unused funds” delete it. That is a scam.
  • If you get an email from PayPal, banks, credit card companies, etc. do not click on any links. Scammers will create web pages that look just like the pages of a real company. They will ask you to go to that web page and ask you to verify info., re enter info., etc. What they will be doing is getting your info. to be used for their own purposes. They are not installing a virus on your computer that captures info.. you are giving them the info.
  • No matter how many times it says, “YOU WIN” you did not. Don’t click on the link.

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