Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

“Hey, you wanna do some fishing this weekend?” What does that question bring to mind for you? Maybe for you it summons up grabbing a pole or two and heading on down to the river or lake to catch a few fish.  It sounds nice and peaceful to regular people. To criminals this and other words mean completely different things. Not only are criminals giving new meaning to old words, they are making up new words as well.


Fishing/Phishing:
When criminals send fake emails from what look like real companies to get people to reveal personal and financial information about themselves like social security numbers, banking information or credit card numbers.  Just remember, no reputable company will send you an email asking for vital information.


Smishing: 
No this is not squishing fish! It is actually the same as phishing EXCEPT that it involves sending a text message (SMS message) to your phone. Again, looking completely real, all the while being completely fake. People tend to fall for this more often than regular phishing because for whatever reason, people seem to think that their phones are more secure than their tablets or computers. They aren’t. Phones are just small computers that you can talk on. That’s all. Here again, no reputable company will send you a text message asking for personal or financial information.


Vishing:
Sorry, not videoing fish. This one is phishing as well EXCEPT instead of an e-mail or text, they use their voice. The criminals actually call you on the phone and try to scam you either directly or in a voice message. For example, a guy called me and told me he was from Visa. After the pleasantries, the first question he asked me was, “Where are you?” Red flags went up because he had called me on my home land line. If he was really from Visa he should have known that was my home phone and what my address was. You have to be careful. You can give away vital information without even realizing it just by answering innocent sounding questions. The one vishing scam that everyone recognizes is when they call you and tell you they are from the IRS. Don’t fall for it. The IRS communicates by mail.


Spearfishing:
No spears or fish involved, just criminals trying to fool you into thinking that email in your box is from someone you know. The emails look like they come from someone you deal with and trust, but they are not. Spearfishing is used to steal data and/or install malware. Both are big trouble, so be careful.


Catfishing: 
Nope, not trying to hook the big one for dinner. The criminal takes on a made-up on-line personality and then establishes a relationship with you. After they have sucked you in, they start asking you for things like money, shared credit cards/bank accounts or personal information. “I want to visit you so bad but you are so far away, and because of my son’s last surgery, I have no money. Please send me some money so I can make the arrangements.” The scams vary. Don’t fall for it. 


Trolls:
Absolutely not the ugly mythical creatures who live under bridges or in caves in fairy tales. A troll is a person who goes on the internet with the specific purpose of posting off-topic, hateful, spiteful, inflammatory entries on public forums such as a blog, Facebook or chat room.  Their intent is to distract people away from the topic and provoke anger or hate. 


Trolling:
Again, this has nothing to do with poles, lines, bait or fish. It is the acts of the above-mentioned troll: the deliberate, malicious posting of off-topic, hateful comments to provoke anger or hate. If you are being “trolled” as they call it, the best defense is, “Do not feed the trolls.” Meaning: do not engage them and they will go away.    They don’t stay where they can’t do mischief.                                       


Honeypot:
  This is not the jar Winnie the Pooh got his head stuck in. It is a fake system set up to run along side a user’s real system. The purpose of a honeypot is to trick hackers into attacking it instead of the main system it was built to protect. A honeypot has done its job if it gets hacked. Please be aware that a honeypot cannot replace your other defenses. It is just another layer. It cannot stop an attack. It can only, hopefully, divert an attack. Plus, it can only see when it is being attacked. It cannot see when other systems are under attack. There are several different kinds of honeypots, so if you decide to use one, make sure you pick the one that suits your needs.


Since hackers and other criminals have become more aggressive at trying to bilk us out of our hard earned dollars,  we must be ever more aware of what is going on right in front of our eyes and react accordingly.


Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at
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