Beware Fraudulent E-Mails and Web Sites
‘Phishing’ is a rampant Internet scam that relies on ‘spoofed’ e-mails, purportedly from well-known firms, to lure individuals to fraudulent Web sites that look and feel like the well-known firm’s Web site. At such Web sites, victims are asked to provide personal information about themselves, such as their name, address and credit card number. These fraudulent e-mails and Web sites may also try to install malicious software on your computer that monitors your activities and sends sensitive personal information (your passwords, for example) to a remote location. With that information, criminals can commit identity theft, credit card fraud and other crimes.
You can protect yourself by following these best practices when using the Internet:
- Be aware that e-mail is insecure and easy to forge. E-mail that appears to be from a friend or company you do business with may be fraudulent and designed to trick you into providing personal information about yourself or installing dangerous software.
- Do not respond to e-mails or pop-up messages that solicit your personal information: name, address, etc.
- Only access trusted Web sites that you found other than by clicking on a Web site address in an e-mail and then added to your browser’s bookmarks. Otherwise, manually type the address into your browser and then bookmark it. When you receive an e-mail, rather than clicking on a Web site address in the e-mail, which can bring you to a fraudulent site, use the bookmark to access that site.
If you receive an e-mail from R-Spectrum you are uncertain about, or which you believe to be fraudulent, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. R-Spectrum will investigate the e-mail and respond back to you. If you are a client of R-Spectrum, please notify your representative or consultant, as well.
Personal Computer Security Tips
No security practice is foolproof. You can, however, help protect yourself by following these best practices to secure your personal computer:
- Install antivirus and anti-spyware software on your computer and make sure it is up to date with the most recent virus/spyware signatures.
- Make sure your computer is up to date with the most recent software patches. Patches are software updates that often address software vulnerabilities that phishing scams and viruses exploit.
- Install a firewall between your computer and the Internet. A firewall is software or hardware that acts as a buffer between your computer and the Internet that limits access to your computer and blocks communications from unauthorized sources.
Please contact the manufacturer of your computer for additional information and recommendations.
Glossary of Terms
Phishing: Phishing attacks use ‘spoofed’ e-mails and fraudulent Web sites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known consultancy firms, online retailers, manufacturers and financial institutions, phishers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them.
Firewall: A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.
Patch: Also called a service patch, a fix to a program bug. A patch is an actual piece of object code that is inserted into (patched into) an executable program. Patches typically are available as downloads over the Internet.
Computer Virus: A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. All computer viruses are manmade. A simple virus that can make a copy of itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt. An even more dangerous type of virus is one capable of transmitting itself across networks and bypassing security systems.
Antivirus Software: A utility that searches a hard disk for viruses and removes any that are found. Most antivirus programs include an auto-update feature that enables the program to download profiles of new viruses so that it can check for the new viruses as soon as they are discovered.
URL: Abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator, the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web.
Spoof: To fool. In networking, the term is used to describe a variety of ways in which hardware and software can be fooled. IP spoofing, for example, involves trickery that makes a message appear as if it came from an authorized IP address (the numerical identifier for a computer).