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Message Details

Date Sent:      April 06, 2011
Subject:           A Word About Online Safety
From:               John Bondon
By now you have probably heard about the repercussions of a successful hack against one of the world's largest email marketing firms, Epsilon. This is a company that handles email transactions for some of the largest brand names in the world. My wife and I figure at least a half dozen companies we do business with and have our personal email address are affected by this hack.

Thankfully the exposure, according to the official news release, seems minimal. Only name and email address information has been compromised. Not our personal financial or related information (that we know of!), so undoubtedly we will start seeing an influx of new SPAM to our mailboxes.

But one other likely outcome of such a massive hack you should expect is a new round of what's termed phishing attacks. This is when someone claiming to be your bank, your retailor, or similar trusted brand name, sends you an email claiming that your account has been hacked or a transaction is suspicious, and asking you to go to a web page to type in your account or personal information to "re-confirm" everything. Think of this as the low-tech way to steal your account and financial information... the thieves simply ASK YOU FOR IT! And when the email has that familar professional design and look of the real website, you think it really is from your bank.

BUT BE ON GUARD! Don't fall for that. It's too easy to send an email pretending to be someone else. And it's even easier to make that fake email or website look like the one it's pretending to be. And honestly, if your bank DID pull a stunt like that asking you to give them information they should already have on file, I'd seriously consider shopping around for a new bank!

2 simple lessons here:
  • DON'T click any links in such an email request from your bank. Instead, open your web browser (internet explorer, firefox, safari, etc), go to your favorite search engine (, for example) and type the name of your bank and click from there. Links in emails can be deceiving.
  • If you receive any emails or phone calls making strange requests or asking for things you are either uncomfortable providing, especially when they contact you first, DON'T respond to the email or the phone call. Instead, pick up the phone and dial THEM using a well published, trusted contact number. When in doubt always call them and ask, did you really send this? is this legit? But make sure YOU are the one phoning THEM to verify you're talking to the right people!

All websites are at risk of compromise. You don't need to be a major player in this internet game to become a target. Even this hiking website sees regular hack attempts of one kind or another. Usually these are the spam attempt variety, but yes, even hack attempts to penetrate our database of users occurs, though as yet, none have suceeded. Not to say it couldn't happen, but hackers know the easiest way to steal data about you is good old fashion trickery. Gaining your trust and then getting you to spill the beans about yourself is always the easiest way in.

So be cautious out there!

Happy Trails,


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