Do you need help using the Internet?

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coverI have a new book and it may just be the thing you have been looking for!  The name of the book is You’re Never Too Old to Surf:  A Senior’s Guide to Safe Internet Use. 

This book is for you if you have ever wanted to harness the power of the Internet, but haven’t been quite sure what that means or how to do it.  It is intended for the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who want to use the wide range of tools that are available today on the Internet, from simply surfing the web to buying online, using email, blogs and even social networking sites.  You may have sought guidance from your child or children  only to be annoyed at their exasperated response to your questions.  Or, you may have tried it on your own, and gotten frustrated with the tools, or had some problem result from that use (or know someone who did).  You may be using the Internet, but just not feel very confident in what you are doing.  If you fall into any of those categories, I wrote this book for YOU!  Of course, if you are the child or grandchild and are having trouble explaining things to your elders, this book could help you too.

The book is available from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.  Your local bookstore can order it too.  It is published through CreateSpace, ISBN 978-1506163857.

Please give it a try and let me know how you like it.

 

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Phishing

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Yep, “phishing” is a real thing, and you pronounce it the same as “fishing”.  Like fishing, phishing uses bait in an effort to hook something.  Unlike fishing, phishing doesn’t look for fish, but rather for sensitive information.  Phishing attempts to use an apparently trustworthy request to gain usernames and passwords to get access to more computers and/or credit card and other financial information to get money.

The key to phishing is that the request appears to be legitimate.  An email might be constructed to have the same look as those from your bank or other financial institution.  Or, the email might appear to be a bill from a company with which you do business.  Today phishing happens withing social networking tools, such as Facebook,  too.  These might be realized as:

A game or lottery.  In this kind of phishing, you may get an email or a Facebook post that claims you have won money.  Unfortunately, to get to the money, you must send them money or access to your bank account.

A request to confirm your account  These emails or social networking program ask you to log into a system that appears to be the legitimate.  Often these are sites that are appropriately branded and look as you expect them to be, but aren’t.  Never click on a link in  the email or social networking message;  the site might not take you where it appears to be.  The better approach is to log in manually.  So, if the message appears to be from Facebook, don’t click on the link, but instead type in http://www.facebook.com and proceed from there.

A violated policy alert.  You may note an email or Facebook post that claims you have broken some policy in your email system, Facebook or some other social networking system.  These always ask you to log in and do something.  Always navigate to the site manually.  Don’t provide information unless you are sure you are on the correct site.

Photos and Videos.  It is quite common for people who have hacked one account to try to get more information by sending information to contacts that appear to be from the original owner of the account.  These messages might claim to have videos or photos of you that are not appropriate.  Or, the message might claim to have photographic proof of some gory or sensational event.  These are almost always an attempt to get access to your account.  You should ignore t hem.

Before logging in to any site, always verify that you are indeed on the main site. Careless and unsuspecting users are often fooled by these tricks.

Spam

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What is spam?  The name always conjures up that bad ham product sold in the can.  But here, I am using spam to mean unwanted email.  It is the electronic equivalent to the junk mail we get in our home mailboxes.  According to Wikipedia, spam accounts for almost 80% of all mail sent, but that may be due to differing interpretations of spam.

In the broadest sense, spam includes all emails that you do not want.  So, they may include those jokes you get from friends or the political statements from relatives.  Sometimes those are liked, so they are not always spam.  Spam also includes advertisements from legitimate stores with which you do business (again, sometimes these are desired emails).   We do not really need to worry about these kinds of spam since they do little harm, other than wasting our time.

A related kind of spam is the email that announce something totally false and ask you to forward it to all of your friends.  Sometimes these are heart-wrenching like children being kidnapped or women being assaulted in a parking lot.  Sometimes these are about poisoning, like anthrax being secretly put in common products.  Or they might be about something you can win if you only forward the email.  These do not harm YOU to resend them, but they do unnecessarily fill up the mailboxes of your friends AND spread incorrect information.

Some spam might forward images or advertisements that are offensive to some users.   While it is not clear why they do it, some people like sending pornographic images to unsuspecting users.  For this reason, most mail programs have the default set to not showing photos when we open our email.

But there are versions of spam that are worth the worry.  Some spam involve phishing.  These include offers of desirable products  at a very low price, announcements of a problem with some legal paperwork or account, or some other way to get you to a site that is controlled by people with nefarious intentions.  The goal of these individuals is to defraud the recipient into revealing information that can be used to steal money or one’s identity, or to sending money to a fake location.  Spammers often use false names, addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information to make it difficult for law enforcement to find them.  They also change their email addresses and Internet Service Provider often to make it difficult to find them.

Is this legal?  Well, since its inception, the Acceptable Use Agreement of the Internet (and of most ISP’s) has forbidden the sending of spam.    In the U.S., mail is not spam (and therefore legal) if a “truthful” subject line, no forged information in the technical headers or sender address, and other minor requirements.  Other countries, such as the European Union and Canada have more restrictive laws.  But, the magnitude of the problem is too big for internet officials to pursue spammers.

Fortunately, many spams are easily identifiable by their location, their subject or the contents of the emails.  In those cases, your Internet provider has probably already moved the emails to your “spam” directory for you.  You can look at them and even answer them (sometimes the spam filters are wrong), but generally you will just want to delete anything they put in that directory.  This keeps affects of the problem to a minimum for most people.

What can you do to help stop the problem?

  1. Think twice before sending that email to all of your friends and relatives.
  2. If there is an announcement in the email, check it out before you forward it.  One site for checking the veracity of email messages is snopes.com.  Yes, I am sure your friends are knowledgeable and well meaning … check it anyway.
  3. If the offer seems too good, ignore it.
  4. NEVER click on a link in an email, even if you know the person from which it was sent.  What it says and where it goes may be two different things.  Copy the email address and paste it to your browser if you really want to follow it.
  5. NEVER give personal information such as passwords, social security numbers or other identifying information over the internet.
  6. NEVER purchase (as in giving your credit card number) from an establishment that is not well known.  Look for a secure connection and some form of approval such as verisign or Better Business Bureau.
  7. If it feels wrong, don’t go there.  If you never heard of the company, don’t go there.  Use the same methods of evaluating vendors that you do in brick and mortar stores.

Phishing in Facebook

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You have probably seen this word “phishing” in the recent past but may not have known what it meant.  Or you may have even thought that it was misspelled.   While phishing is similar to fishing, the latter is for salmon, while the former is for passwords or other sensitive information.  Generally the phisher sends a message that sounds as if it is coming from an official source and asks you to do respond by going to a webpage and signing in or sharing personal information.  In the past, most phishing happened in email.  But, it today’s world, it might also happen on Facebook.

Your account is reported to have violated a policy that is considered disruptive or insulting Facebook users. Until we http://www.facebook.com/security system will deactivate your account within 12 hours after you open this message if you do not confirm such reproductions.

If you still want to use your account, please confirm your facebook account below:

apps.facebook.com/-security-services/
(If the link is not clickable, try copy it into your browser.)

Note: we recommend to facebook users, asked to filling data that are complete and very accurate because we are from http://www.facebook.com/security team can ensure that the ownership of the account actually exists in your control and no that is using your Facebook account without permission.

This phishing seems to suggest that if you do not log in, you will lose your Facebook account.  Don’t do it!  They are trying to steal your password so they can use your account for nefarious purposes.

What should you look for?  Most often, you will see a link to a third party site.  In this case, rather than http://www.facebook.com, the message sent you to apps.facebook.com, which would be an application within Facebook (this one no longer exists).   Sometimes in email, what it says in the link is not to where the link goes when you click on it.    The page will almost always look VERY official, but you should ignore that!  A second hint is poor grammar.  Notice “we recommend to facebook users, asked to filling data ….” as an example.

What should you do?  In this case, ignore it.  If you are unsure, use normal means for contacting the source (such as emailing or calling the company).  And, check Facecrooks to see if it is a real threat.