phishing linksThe headlines this weekend were full of enough security stories to raise the hair on the back of your neck:


So how do you protect yourself on the Internet? You have to be vigilant and use the Internet defensively. According to a recent Google study, you are 36 times more likely to get scammed if your contacts emails have been hacked.  In this digital age, hacking where you shop or people you know can certainly lead to you.

Did you know that it’s easy to lie about your email address?  Yes, you can set up you email program to say that you are this bank or that retailer.  I even got an official email this morning from the FBI that claimed to be from J Edgar Hoover, who died in 1972.

Scamming emails are more sophisticated today.  It may look like an email from your bank or customer. If you respond or send a read receipt you may be verifying your email address.  Never reply to spam. Even if you clink on a link it can verify your email address. Many times each link or even image in an email is coded so the sender knows you clicked on the link or viewed the image.

Official email:

  • Official email will not make threats.
  • Will be signed by the person it is coming from
  • Will have contact information so you can follow up
  • Will NOT ask for personal information including your username and password

If there are hyperlinks in a suspicious email you receive, try hovering over them with your mouse.  Look for an address that they link to pop up. Is it a legitimate related domain name?  For example you get an email from your bank, or is it your bank?  Does the link lead back to your banks domain name or somewhere else?  This “link hovering” is easy to do on your computer but not your mobile device.  If in doubt, instead of replying, start a new fresh email to the contact instead or just wait till you are on your computer.

Here is another method to verify your email. Every email has a hidden header.  Use you help function in your email program to learn how to display the email header. You can look at the header to see if the reply to address is different than the senders address.

Use the Internet defensively. Be suspicious and don’t assume the next email you open is legit.  Never give account or identify information over email. Perhaps someday we can have a new email system that verifies the sender’s identity. But hackers will always find a way. In the first article in this security series I mentioned securing your passwords.  In the next article I will touch on virus and malware attacks.