E-mail dangers

A comedian, whose name I’ve long-forgotten, did a skit on a well known Irish Reverend who was predicting that the end of the of the world would be marked by a wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The point I want to make today is that you need not wait until the end of the world to experience the need to gnash your teeth. All you have to do is be a bit less than very careful with the messages that arrive in your e-mail inbox.

Among my e-mails this morning was a message which was apparently from an online shop that I have used a couple of times. It looked genuine, at first glance, and the request for me to update my account details sounded reasonable enough.

There was even a link to click on to save me the trouble of typing out the address of the update page in my browser. Unfortunately, however, the link would have taken me to a website along the lines of www.meanswinenetrobber.com, where I would have have found a page looking exactly those on the online shop site.

Had I typed my account information into that page, the site would have thanked me politely, and then its owners would have gone on a shopping spree at my expense. Fortunately, I didn’t fall for the trick because I’ve seen it before and the subject line ‘Update Account Informations’, was a bit of a giveaway as well.

I once even had a message from my domain administrator asking me to confirm my network details. I was pretty sure that that one was a scam because I am my own domain administrator, and I couldn’t remember sending myself that message.

I have had many obviously bogus messages, from banks where I don’t have an account, for example, but there have been a number which looked genuine. It stands to reason that, if the scammers send a message to enough people, a percentage of the recipients will be account holders at that bank or online store.

I have never replied to an e-mail request for sensitive information about myself and, guess what, I have never got into trouble. Any such request will almost invariably be a scam and you can save yourself a lot of wear and tear on your teeth by ignoring it.

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