Protecting Yourself and Your Computer
Email is one of the most used methods for compromising your computer. Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Phishing scams, Identity Theft, and Spam can all arrive in your inbox and it is up to you, with the help of the spam and virus gateway, to weed out the bad ones. The email inbox is this dangerous place because the bad guys think that it is easier to get you to click on an attachment than any other method. In the early days that seemed to be the case. Users of the email system showed a certain amount of trust that the email that said it was from a company, actually was from the company. That is no longer the case.
Phishing is a type of deception designed to steal your identity. In phishing scams, scam artists try to get you to disclose valuable personal data-like credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information by convincing you to provide it under false pretenses. Phishing schemes can be carried out in person or over the phone, and are delivered online through spam e-mail or pop-up windows.
Tips for Safely Reading Your Email
Do not open any attachment that you did not expect. The days of having a fun program sent to you and you just clicking on it and running it are gone. You might not even want to trust that Microsoft spreadsheet from someone on campus. If you are unsure about it, call the person and ask them if they sent you something. It may take an extra couple of minutes, but it could keep you from spending hours getting your machine cleaned up.
Be careful of Phishing emails. These are emails that attempt to steal private information from you by sending you to fake web sites. The web sites are often banks, credit unions and ebay.
Do not use the preview pane in your email reader if you get lots of spam. Spammers use tricks like including a picture in the email that actually tells them that they have a good email account that someone reads.
SANS Ouch newsletter for email scams and Phishing attacks - OUCH! is the first consensus monthly security awareness report for end users. It shows them what to look for and how to avoid phishing and other scams plus viruses and other malware -- using the latest attacks as examples. It also provides pointers to great resources like the amazing Phishing Self-Test.
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