Work From Home Online Scams

Work From Home Online Scamswork-from-home-online-scams


Working from home has become very popular and its popularity is increasing rapidly, especially for those who are unemployed, retired or confined to home for any reason.

One attraction is money and, as we all know, any extra income is always welcome.

But it can also be like an extension of a hobby or a passion that develops into an online business. No surprise then, that businesses based on a hobby or a passion are most likely to succeed and, believe it or not, working in those businesses is both easy and enjoyable.

So, it’s not hard to imagine millions (yes millions) of people across the world, people just like you and me working away with their online businesses – some very much part time, others more than part-time and others almost or totally full-time.

Scammers

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Online Hacker

Now, when you think about it, it is possible to understand why the dark side of the internet…the scammers got involved. Very quickly they proceeded to set up work from home online scams as a means to defraud internet users and particularly those interested in starting an online business.

Like any other scam, these particular scams must be recognised, detested and avoided.

If your business fails for a genuine reason, regardless of what the reason might be, you will be devastated to say the least. However, becoming a scam victim is even worse, its soul-destroying and you never ever want to go there.

Truth is, there are thousands of very dodgy characters and scams out there on the internet. They’re into everything including internet investment scams, internet based online training scams, work from home scams, dating scams and many, many more………………I’m not going to waste your time and mine listing them.

I believe it will be a lot better if I help you to recognise the scams and thereby avoid getting caught and becoming just another victim.

How To Recognise A Scamwork-from-home-online-scams


I don’t claim to cover every possible scam situation, rather I will be giving you some tips or pointers that will make you even more alert than you would normally be, regardless of the scam situation concerned.

So, if you are ready, here we go:

No Risk, Sure Thing!

Looks risky to me!!!

When you get a proposal from someone that uses words like “Guaranteed” or “No Risk” or “Sure Thing” or “Can’t go Wrong” be very cautious. If they follow up with “you will earn an ongoing substantial income” well, just cut the call or run away.

Affinity Fraud – A Like Minded Person!

An unsolicited approach from a person who claims to have the same hobby, religion, country or whatever, may well be false and be used to get you to “drop your guard” for affinity fraud. Affinity fraud is a bit like investment fraud where the fraudster preys upon members of groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, language minorities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are – or can do a really good job of pretending to be – members of the particular group they want to scam.

New Technology Development!

Ask yourself, is it real?

While this does happen, it’s probably unlikely you will be approached by an individual “out of the blue” and if you are approached, then it may be for a “new product” that is unproven, untested and possibly does not exist. Again get out of there.

Online Videos – Don’t Believe Everything You See!

Well, this article from The Sun will give you a good idea why! When I first saw this I thought, surely, people have more sense! Surely people can’t be that stupid!

Anyway, here goes:

Apparently, some new iPhone 7 owners watched an online You Tube video which demonstrated and tricked them into thinking a headphone jack could be added to their new handset by drilling a 3.5mm hole in the position where the headphone jack would normally be! The new iPhone 7 did not have a headphone jack, as it was designed for use with Bluetooth headphones.

This fake You Tube video, claiming to show users how they could get the headphone jack, went viral and many new iPhone owners damaged their new phones by following the instructions from the video!

These, and I quote The Sun,

“Clueless users then complained their phones had stopped working after falling victim to the prank. Furious James Ceja commented on the video: “I tried this and ended up with display destruction and it not working… I really committed the biggest mistake of my life by watching this video.”

David Iriarte added: “A friend of mine told me it worked for him, but my iPhone won’t turn on after I drilled the hole for the jack. “I checked and it was the 3.5mm drill, so I made no mistake there! What happened? Any of you have the same problem?”

Toekneechair questioned: “OK I am sure it’s in the comments somewhere but my friend told me to ask what size drill bit am I supposed to use? “Also I don’t have that clamp thingy, can I or my friend hold it while we drill? I don’t want to ruin my phone. “Thanks for all the help guys…”

Click here to view the video http://bit.ly/2cVBBMx

Well, what do you think, would you fall for it? I would certainly hope not.

You Tube is truly amazing, with solutions and videos for almost any task you care to mention, so people visit You Tube looking for solutions all the time. That sense of trust may well be one of the reasons why these people were “tricked”, although, personally I think they were just stupid.

Anyway, you might say this is an extreme case – and I would agree – but it is still a useful WARNING that we must always be on the alert and not let our guard down.

Investments

A huge area with numerous genuine investment opportunities.

Again, unfortunately, there are also all kinds of “Professional Investment Scams” and Affinity Fraud as detailed above. Although it is a massive area of business activity there are a few pointers to follow for this and other scam situations:

Ask plenty of probing, difficult questions.

Watch the “body language”.

Watch for any “silences”.

Check what firm carries out the Audits – a reputable firm of auditors will not be a guarantee on any investment, but it would be more reassuring than some backstreet accountant.

Get on board now or you will lose out!

Caution strongly advised!

Pressure is applied to invest money immediately or the opportunity will be lost! This is meant to stop you doing research or consulting with family or experts. If it’s a genuine long term proposal, then there should be ample time for background checks.

Sending Cash Overseas!

Genuine International Investments can be great but NEVER ever send cash overseas to some unknown person or company. It’s hard to believe that this is still happening.

Favorable Promotions!

Opportunities being favorably promoted on the internet and elsewhere can be absolutely amazing and totally legitimate.

But, again, there are the exceptions that are total scams – some very obvious and others that just don’t stand up to any serious scrutiny.

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

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A helping hand is here…

Yes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true – Old advice that is still very good advice – use your common sense and your gut feeling.
It’s such a shame, as there are so many great online business’s out there and, believe me, you too can start your own online business.

So, after all that – Starting an online business working from home……how do you avoid the work from home online scams?

Well, if you want to avoid all that grief and all that frustration, the absolute best thing to do is to check out this company named Wealthy Affiliate.

Wealthy Affiliate, which I have reviewed separately here  , has been in business for more than 10 years, has an impeccable reputation and provides everything you will ever need for your business. So, to get started and try it for free, go there now by clicking on the image below:

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Make your future secure.

If you want more helpful information, have a look at my other pages and posts especially “how to work online at home” and “real ways to earn money online”.

So, that’s it for now….

Thanks for dropping by, don’t forget to leave a comment below.

Cheers,

Michael

What Is The Best Online Security Protection

What Is The Best Online Security Protection for both small and large businesses?

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Online Security

Whether you are doing your online business nationally, internationally or worldwide, you need the maximum level of online security protection.

Standard antivirus packages do a particular job, which is described more fully below, but you do need a “second layer” for maximum protection. That “second layer” is the speciality of Heimdal Security and specifically their product Heimdal PRO.

Security is very important if you have an existing Online Business or if you are thinking of starting one – in which case you should see the Powerful Affiliate pages “What is an Affiliate Marketing Business” and “Why Become an Affiliate Marketer“, these will help with your decision and are well worth reading now or after you finish here.

Online criminals hate Heimdal Security as they protect you from attacks that the antivirus packages can’t block.

You may well ask, is this “second layer” and the related cost absolutely necessary?

Well, I will address the question, what is the best online security protection and other frequently asked questions as I go through this review.

I think it will be more beneficial and clearer, if I break the information down under these headings:

  1. User benefits
  2. Features
  3. Protects against
  4. Best Security Addition for any Antivirus package
  5. Who is Heimdal Security
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Free Security Resources
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How to start an online business…

# 1 – User benefits

Protects your computer from 2nd generation malware.

Ransomware, exploit kits, financial Trojans and data-stealing malware are just a few examples of 2nd generation malware that Heimdal PRO blocks.

Sanitises your Internet traffic to block malicious traffic.

Heimdal PRO works proactively, scanning all your incoming and outgoing Internet traffic to identify malicious connections. Heimdal blocks these connections and keeps malware from being downloaded and installed on your computer.

Keeps your financial data and confidential information safe.

Heimdal PRO closely monitors your outgoing Internet traffic too. When it sees that malware is trying to ex-filtrate data from your computer to a malicious server or website, it blocks the connection.

Saves time and enhances your security with automated software Updates.

Not many people know this, but updating software blocks up to 85% of web attack angles. The software manager in Heimdal PRO installs updates automatically and without interrupting your work (or fun). It can also install new software for you, fast and safely.

Protects your digital life from attacks you don’t even notice.

To reach more potential victims, cyber criminals hack legitimate websites and online ads and even impersonate brands you trust and love. Due to its deep and vast intelligence about servers and websites used by cyber criminals, Heimdal PRO protects you from cyber threats that the eye can’t see and your antivirus package can’t detect.

Experience a safer web, but just as fast as before.

Heimdal PRO was created so it could be both discrete and effective, so it doesn’t slow down your system or your Internet connection.

Check out our cool video showing what Heimdal PRO does and why users need it:

# 2 – Features

  • Traffic-based Malware Detection
  • Advanced Traffic Scanning & Filtering
  • Online Banking Security
  • Automatic Software Updates
  • Silent Vulnerability Blocking
  • Software Manager
  • Security News Alerts
  • Free Support

# 3 – Protects against

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Online Security Protection
  • Adware & Spyware
  • Botnets
  • Browser & DNS hijacking
  • Data Leakage & Data Theft
  • Drive-by Attacks
  • Email Malware Distribution
  • Exploit Kits
  • Fileless Malware
  • Form-grabbing Malware
  • Keyloggers
  • Macro Viruses & more
  • Malicious Traffic Redirects
  • Malvertising
  • Phishing, Whaling, Pharming
  • Polymorphic Malware
  • Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs)
  • Ransomware
  • Remote Access Trojans
  • Rogueware
  • URL & SQL injection
  • Zero Day Malware

# 4 – Best Security Addition for any Antivirus Package

Heimdal PRO is not an antivirus, but it’s a perfect complement to one.

Antivirus is reactive because it looks for files and actions, whereas Heimdal is proactive, analysing your Internet traffic.

what-is-the-best-online-security-protection
The best online security protection

# 5 – Who is Heimdal Security?

Heimdal Security protects users and companies from sophisticated cyber-criminal actions, by keeping confidential information and intellectual property safe.

The Heimdal Security software was initially developed in 2011 by Team Defcon CTF World Champions in hacking and is now used to protect organisations and users across the world against advanced attacks, no matter where their users may travel.

# 6 – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Heimdal PRO?  

Heimdal PRO is a cyber threat security suite that uses Internet traffic scanning to keep you safe against ransomware, financial Trojans, data-stealing malware and other threats that an antivirus package can’t detect.

How much does it cost?

You can see the retail prices for Heimdal PRO in their online shop – price will depend on your country, number of computers needing protection and license period.

What is the difference between Heimdal PRO and Heimdal FREE?

Heimdal FREE keeps your vulnerable applications up-to-date automatically and eliminates vulnerabilities used in cyber attacks. Compared to Heimdal PRO, the FREE version does not offer Internet traffic scanning and filtering or malware  detection.

What operating systems does Heimdal PRO run on?

  • Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit)
  • Windows 8 (32 and 64 bit)
  • Windows 8.1 (32 and 64 bit)
  • Windows 10 (32 and 64 bit)

Are there any online reviews for Heimdal PRO?

Customer reviews on Trustpilot

Heimdal PRO reviewed on Softpedia

Heimdal PRO reviewed on Digital Citizen

Can Heimdal be used in a corporate environment?

Yes, but Heimdal really recommends using Heimdal CORP. This  product was developed specifically for larger IT environments. Compared to Heimdal PRO, the CORP version also offers access to the web-based Unified Threat Dashboard, a great tool for any company’s IT administrator.

# 7 – Free Security Resources

The Heimdal Security blog.

what-is-the-best-online-security-protection
Online Hacker

The Heimdal Security award-winning cyber security blog keeps you up to date on breakthrough security alerts and paves the way to safer digital lives with actionable how-to guides and articles.

Cyber Security for Beginners (course)

Turn your inbox into a classroom with this self-paced course designed for everyone and anyone.

 The Daily Security Tip

From the Heimdal inbox to yours: 365 security tips to last you for an entire year, dropped at a rate of 1 tip/day!

The Ultimate Windows 10 Security Guide

All the pointers you need to adjust and tweak your Windows 10 settings in order to boost your cyber security and privacy.

The Cyber Security Glossary

Decode all that tech talk in cyber security articles so that it makes sense to you. Includes links to in-depth resources!

Cyber Security for Small Business Owners (Course)

Master the basics of cyber security to protect your small business and your client’s data. All in 24 step-by-step lessons!

So, to conclude and answer the question “what is the best online security protection”……….definitely Heimdal Security.


So there you have it – I think any concerns you might have had, are now answered.

Also, I think you will now understand why Powerful Affiliate has no hesitation in recommending Heimdal Security and specifically their Heimdal PRO and Heimdal CORP security products.

Click HERE and go there now and check the prices for yourself!


 

what-is-the-best-online-security-protection
An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula…Click on Image

As always, I love to get feedback, so please leave a comment in the box below.

Thank you for visiting, do call again as Powerful Affiliate is updated regularly.

Cheers and do take care.

Michael

Best Internet Security Antivirus Software

Internet Security Is Critical

Heimdal PRO has the answer.

best-internet-security-antivirus-software
Heimdal PRO

Great deals available HERE

Heimdal Pro protects you from cyber-criminal actions by employing an advanced web scanning engine to keep you safe from notorious data and financial stealing malware, such as Zeus Gameover (P2P) and CryptoLocker. That is one reason why Heimdal is renowned for having the best internet security anti-virus software.

Persistent, Multi-layered Protection

Heimdal PRO will actively protect you against the most advanced forms of malware around the clock. The intelligence behind it enables Heimdal to filter out threats before they reach your system. It will catch what your antivirus can’t block and it will keep you up to date on how it’s constantly closing vulnerabilities in your system. And if you’re travelling with your computer, your protection will travel with you.

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How to start an online business…

Hassle-free & No Slowdowns

Cyber security is a need-to-have, but sometimes you just don’t have the time for it. We understand. That’s why we made Heimdal PRO so easy to use that you’ll forget it’s installed. It’s light on your system too! You can automate software updates and an essential part of your protection, which is blocking advanced malware. And you can even set up your own proxy as an additional layer of protection.

See where a man just got indefinite jail time for refusing to decrypt two hard drives.

Also, before we go on further, have a look at this Video:

Layer 1 – Advanced Web Scanning Engine

Cryptoware Detection & Blocking

Cryptoware or ransomware is currently one of the most dangerous cyber threats on the web. This type of malware will encrypt the data on your drive and ask for ransom to unlock it. Heimdal PRO will spot and block cryptoware strains like Cryptolocker or TorrentLocker before they encrypt your data.

Malicious Look Up Blocker

Heimdal PRO looks for infected pop-ups, toolbars and other forms malware on each website you visit. If it finds them, it blocks the website. As simple as that. This keeps your system safe from adware, spyware and browser hijackers, which are frequent threats.

Anti-phishing Protection

Phishing attacks are a common method cyber criminals use to harvest your sensitive data. Heimdal PRO keeps your data safe because it checks every website you visit. If it spots a phishing attempt, it will block the website before it can lure you into its trap. This also works if you unknowingly click a malicious link in an email.

Shield Against Website Malware Distribution

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Online Security

Even legitimate websites can spread malware (unknowingly, of course). Attackers often infiltrate these websites by infecting banners or by script injections. Heimdal PRO identifies these threats and blocks them before they compromise your system. Sometimes, Heimdal will only block the infected banner or web page, so you can still access the rest of the website.

Internet Traffic Filtering

Cyber criminals are very good at disguising their infected websites so visitors can’t tell they are rogue. But they can’t fool us! Heimdal PRO checks every web destination you visit to see if it’s safe. If it’s unsafe, it will display a block page, to keep you safe.

Pervasive Protection

Heimdal PRO ensures that you are protected everywhere you take your computer with you. It’s the perfect supplement for your antivirus solution, which offers reactive protection. Heimdal PRO works proactively and constantly to make sure your system and data are safe.

Personal Dashboard

You get full control over your Heimdal PRO settings in your personal dashboard. This is also where you can find detailed statistics and an overview of the vulnerabilities in your system. Easy, user friendly and effective.

Layer 2 – Traffic-Based Malware Detection

Zero Day Malware Protection

Zero Day vulnerabilities are security holes that appear in an application that the app maker is not aware of. Cyber criminals rush to exploit it before an update is released. Heimdal PRO protects you from these type of attacks based on deep knowledge of cyber criminal infrastructure. Heimdal protects you from Zero Days by blocking the communication between your system and the infected web pages, servers or other malicious online locations.

PC Lockdown

Some cyber attacks are especially powerful. If a cyber criminal or malicious software tries to compromise Heimdal, communication between your system and infected servers will be blocked immediately. This prevents data leakage and the infection from escalating.

Extensive and Specialised Malware Database

Heimdal PRO relies on a specialised malware database which harbours information about malicious infrastructure. Because of this Heimdal PRO can shield you from financial malware threats which are often very sophisticated. Extensive knowledge about 2nd generation malware, such as, CryptoLocker, Dridex or other advanced variants, is also included for your protection.

Security Against Advanced Exploit Kits

Exploit kits are malicious toolkits that attackers use to take advantage of vulnerabilities in your system. These exploit kits help spread malware and often go undetected by traditional antivirus products. Some don’t even drop files on your system, so they’re very difficult to spot. But Heimdal PRO can catch and block them because it knows where the attacks come from.

Online Banking Security

Financial transactions are the main target cyber criminals aim to compromise. That’s why Heimdal PRO checks your Internet traffic in real time to identify such threats. If it does, Heimdal immediately blocks financial malware from sending sensitive data, such as passwords or credit card details, to malicious servers or websites.

Active Protection Against Data Leakage

Some types of malware will try to harvest confidential data, such as credit card information and passwords, to use them against you. Heimdal PRO identifies these data leakage attempts and blocks the transfer. This way, your sensitive data never leaves your system and remains safe and sound.

Layer 3 – Automatic Software Updates

Automatic

Forget about all those update pop ups on your computer! Let Heimdal PRO take care of keeping your software up to date automatically. It will install updates as soon as they’re available, so you’re never exposed to cyber attacks that target your apps.

Free Support

Looking for help? Just go to our support page and find product guides and answers to the most frequent questions asked. Also, our team is just one email away. Easy and effective!

Silent Vulnerability Blocking

Cyber criminals exploit security holes in outdated software in 85% of attacks. Heimdal PRO will install updates in the background and will never interrupt your work. That means that you can enjoy enhanced protection without lifting a finger.

Fast

Attackers move quickly when a vulnerability appears, so they can hit before a solution is applied. But Heimdal PRO moves even faster. It scans your system for outdated software every two hours and delivers the update as soon as it’s available.

Patched Software

Here is the list of vulnerable applications Heimdal PRO monitors and updates for you:

  • Adobe Shockwave
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Adobe Flash Plugin
  • Adobe Air
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • VLC
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • QuickTime
  • Skype
  • Thunderbird
  • and 15+ others

If you have an online business or if you are just concerned about internet security, Heimdal Security Pro is the best option for you.

I use it myself and have had no problems whatsoever.

So, you can get it Here now.


Wealthy Affiliate

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Wealthy Affiliate

Are you already a member of the Wealthy Affiliate community?

If not, you can now check out the other pages and posts on Powerful Affiliate starting with how to start an online business that makes money – here you will find links to the current most popular and most important articles.

Or, right now, You can join as a starter member for free…….including two free websites – so nothing to lose, right.


That’s all for today.

Thanks for visiting.

I hope you found this helpful.

If you have any comment or suggestion, please leave it in the box below.

Take care and be careful.

Cheers,

Michael.

Best Ransomware Protection

Ransomware Attacks

best-ransomware-protection
Online Hacker

Online security seems such an abstract and distant field, where other people get hurt, but somehow you stay safe, either by luck or internet savvy.

However, the truth is, it could happen to anyone and it might even have happened to you in the past.

They say that nothing beats learning from experience, but sometimes it’s best to learn from other people’s experience rather than your own and this is one of those opportunities.

See where a man just got an indefinite jail time for refusing to decrypt two hard drives.

Now, lets have a look at this video:

Here is the first in a series of stories about real people whose system was compromised by cyber criminals and what they learned about the best ransomware protection.

 

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Infected Computer

#1. The mom whose laptop was locked down by a ransomware attack

Two days before Thanksgiving, Alina’s mother got hit by a ransomware attack. 5,726 files got locked by CryptoWall, an encryption malware so powerful it is technologically impossible to break open.

Alina’s mom contacted the attacker through the ransomware’s communication feature and told her she can either pay to get her files back or lose them forever. Despite backing up her files 6 months ago, she decided that losing half a year’s worth of photos, documents and other files was too much, and so decided to pay the ransom.

The price to unlock her files was 500$ in the first week and 1000$ if it went into the second week, after which the files would be deleted. Payment was being done in Bitcoin, an obscure and unfamiliar process which she had to learn on the fly.

Because of a major snowstorm that closed down the banks, Alina’s mom couldn’t pay the ransom in the first week and ended up having to plead with her attacker to not increase the price to 1,000$. Surprisingly, he accepted and gave her the key to unlock her files.

MY mother received the ransom note on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It popped up on her computer screen soon after she’d discovered that all of her files had been locked.

Ransom Note

Your files are encrypted,” it announced. “To get the key to decrypt files you have to pay 500 USD.” If my mother failed to pay within a week, the price would go up to $1,000. After that, her decryption key would be destroyed and any chance of accessing the 5,726 files on her PC — all of her data — would be lost forever.Sincerely, CryptoWall.

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How to start an online business...

CryptoWall 2.0

CryptoWall 2.0 is the latest immunoresistant strain of a larger body of viruses known as ransomware. The virus is thought to infiltrate your computer when you click on a legitimate-looking attachment or through existing malware lurking on your hard drive and, once unleashed, it instantly encrypts all your files, barring access to a single photo or tax receipt.

Everyone has the same questions when they first hear about CryptoWall:

Is there any other way to get rid of it besides paying the ransom? The answer is No — apparently it is technologically impossible for anyone to decrypt your files once CryptoWall 2.0 has locked them. (My mother had several I.T. professionals try.)

Should We Pay A Ransom To Criminals?

But should you really be handing money over to a bunch of criminals? According to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre, a partnership between the F.B.I. and the National White Collar Crime Centre, this answer is also no.

“Ransomware messages are an attempt to extort money,” one public service announcement helpfully explains. “If you have received a ransomware message do not follow payment instructions and file a complaint.”

Right. But that won’t get you your files back. Which is why the Sheriff’s Office of Dickson County, Tenn., recently paid a CryptoWall ransom to unlock 72,000 autopsy reports, witness statements, crime scene photographs and other documents.

Can These Attacks Be Stopped Legally?

Finally, can law enforcement at least do something to stop these attacks in the future? By Law, probably not. Many ransom ware viruses originate in Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries. The main difficulty in stopping cyber criminals isn’t finding them, but getting foreign governments to cooperate and extradite them.

By the time my mom called to ask for my help, it was already Day 6 and the clock was ticking. (Literally — the virus comes with a countdown clock, ratcheting up the pressure to pay.) My father had already spent all week trying to convince her that losing six months of files wasn’t the end of the world (she had last backed up her computer in May). It was pointless to argue with her. She had thought through all of her options; she wanted to pay.

Only, paying turned out not so easy; the CryptoWall hackers take only Bitcoins.

Making The Ransom Payment

Picture the kind of early-adopting, hoodie-wearing member of the technocracy totally comfy with the idea of a cyber currency neither backed nor issued by any central bank or government. Now picture the opposite of that. That is my mom.

Having never so much as purchased an app in her life, my mom had no idea how to buy Bitcoins. Luckily,  her ransomers had anticipated this problem and included a link to a step-by-step guide, complete with pictures.

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Credit Javier Jaén
She’d managed to make a cash deposit via Bank of America to the unique Bitcoin “wallet” provided by her ransomers, but since Bitcoin’s price is extremely volatile, her payment had already fallen $25 short by the time it arrived. (Credit and debit payments can take up to six days to process.)

The fastest way to send the extra $25 was to make a direct deposit at an A.T.M. that handled Bitcoin transactions. That’s where I came in. Coin Cafe, the Bitcoin provider my mother had chosen, had an A.T.M. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, not too far from where I lived.

The Bitcoin A.T.M. was not easy to find. It was housed in the second floor hallway of a cooperative work space, tucked inside an old Nynex phone booth. On one hand, I appreciated the winking irony of this sight gag. On the other hand, Fidelity Investments this was not.

Inside was a little white box with no buttons, just a screen, a camera eye and a money slot. I scanned in the QR code my mom had sent me. The machine whirred to life. “Balance query in progress,” it announced. This query remained in progress for the next 20 minutes during which I left three messages on Coin Cafe’s voice mail before abandoning the booth to get some coffee and walk around in the rain.

The fourth time I called, a human being answered the phone and told me the problem had been fixed. I hurried back to the A.T.M., scanned in my QR code, sent some Voldemorts $25 in crisp bills and called my mom. The whole experience had not done much to allay my misgivings about Bitcoin; what did allay them was Mike Hoats, the nice bearded man Coin Cafe sent over to fix the A.T.M.

We got to talking after I made my payment, and he told me that, while no one at Coin Cafe believed people should fund criminal activity by paying the ransom, their job was to broker the purchase and sale of Bitcoins, which, like cash, could be used for any purpose. CryptoWall had thrust them into the unwitting role of ransom ware advisers, coping with grandmothers crying on the phone at the thought of losing all their photos or small-business owners whose family income was on the line.

Coin Cafe didn’t like profiting from the victims (according to the company, these transactions are in the low single digits as a percentage of its total business), but they were downright mortified to learn that CryptoWall had anointed them as one of their Bitcoin providers of choice, with praise for their “fast, simple service.” That’s how my mom found out about Coin Cafe — from her ransom note.

This referral is only one of the handy services CryptoWall provides to ensure a more seamless customer experience. Others include the ability to “decrypt one file for free” and a message interface one can use “in case of any problems with payment or having any other questions.” What next, I wondered. Twenty percent off when you refer this malware to a friend? Frequent virus cards? Black Friday ransom specials?

They Don't Have To Pretend They're Not Criminals!

“I think they like the idea they don’t have to pretend they’re not criminals,” Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at the computer security firm Sophos, told me when I reached him in Vancouver by phone. “By using the fact that they’re criminals to scare you, it’s just a lot easier on them.” They don’t have to hire a professional translator to get their English perfect, Mr. Wisniewski explained, or engage in any of the baroque subterfuge required of someone pretending to be a Nigerian gentleman farmer who just needs a little help claiming his inheritance.

In addition to being criminals, these peddlers of ransom ware are clearly business people, skillfully appropriating all the tools of e-commerce. From branding (CryptoWall is a variant of a fearsome earlier virus called CryptoLocker, which was shut down last year) to determining what they can extort (ransom ware hackers have tested the market with prices as low as $100 and as high as $800,000, which the city of Detroit refused to pay in order to have its database decrypted), these operators are, as Mr. Wisniewski put it, part of “a very mature, well-oiled capitalist machine.”

It’s also an incredibly lucrative machine: Some experts estimate that CryptoLocker hackers cleared around $30 million in 100 days in 2013. And more than a million PCs worldwide have been hit with the CryptoWall virus.

Even after reading through numerous descriptions of CryptoWall 2.0 as “the largest and most destructive ransom ware threat on the Internet” and “an enormous danger for computer users,” I still couldn’t help thinking this was mainly a problem for moms who persist in using big, boxy PC computers and small-town police departments. Mr. Wisniewski quickly dismissed that notion. Although CryptoWall has primarily affected Windows computers and Android cellphones so far, there is no technological barrier that prevents the virus from infiltrating Macs like mine. And when it does, Mr. Wisniewski chuckled, I should expect the ransom to be a lot higher.

So What Can We All Do To Protect Ourselves?

Keep our computers backed up on an independent drive or by using a cloud backup service like Carbonite, take those software update and “patch” alerts seriously and, most of all, Beware the Attachment. (Remember: Brand-name businesses like J. Crew or Bank of America will rarely send you an attachment.)

Of course, this advice arrives too late for my mom and, it appeared, her payment had arrived too late as well: By the time I got home from Greenpoint, her CryptoWall ransom had been raised to $1,000.00 and the $500 in Bitcoins she had deposited had vanished. In a panic, she wrote to Mike Hoats asking for advice. What he told her sounded crazy to me - Use the CryptoWall message interface to tell the criminals exactly what happened, be honest, in other words.

So she did. She explained that the virus had struck the same week that a major snowstorm hit Massachusetts and the Thanksgiving holiday shut down the banks. She told them about the unexpected Bitcoin shortfall and about dispatching her daughter to the Coin Cafe A.T.M. at the 11th hour. She swore she had really, really tried not to miss their deadline. Then a weird thing happened - her decryption key arrived.

When I shared the news with Mr. Hoats, he was jubilant. “That is great news, truly!” he wrote. “Whoever these yahoos are, they have some little shred of humanity.”

But Mr. Wisniewski had a more pragmatic take. “From what we can tell, they almost always honour what they say because they want word to get around that they’re trustworthy criminals who’ll give you your files back.”

Welcome to the new ransom ware economy, where hackers have a reputation to consider.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done If I Am Attacked?

What to do you do if your computer gets infected with ransom ware: do you pay up or try to find an alternative solution?

If you’re not ready to give up the fight, we have something that might help.

In the past few weeks, I’ve combed the web for decryption tools and I can tell you that it’s a never-ending process. It’s close to impossible to build up a complete database, because things change on a daily basis.

As new types of ransomware emerge, researchers decrypt some strains and others get new variants. There are tens or hundreds of them. Just like in a cat and mouse game, the chase never stops.

If this graphic would be filled out with the 2016 discoveries covering Q2 and Q3, you’d need a bigger screen to see this.

best-ransomware-protection
Ransomware Discoveries

Source: CERT-RO

Believe it or not, there is a silver lining to ransomware’s popularity: the quality of the malicious code is steadily decreasing. As a result, cyber security specialists can crack the code faster and give victims a change to retrieve their data without further funding attackers.

Unfortunately, low quality ransom ware also endangers the affected data: one error in the code and it can all be erased instead of encrypted - but that’s a story for another time.

Let’s get to the point, because, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you don’t have too much time on your hands. If you couldn’t avoid a ransomware infection, let’s see if you can help fix it.

As a disclaimer, you should know that the list below is just a starting point. Use it, but do a bit more research as well. Safely decrypting your data can be a nerve-wrecking process, so try to be as thorough as possible.

We’ll do our best to keep this list up to date, but it’ll probably never be definitive. Contributions and suggestions are more than welcome, as we promise to promptly follow up on them and include them in the list.

Some of the decryption tools mentioned below are easy to use, while others require a bit more tech knowledge to break. You can try asking for help on one of these malware removal forums, which feature tons of information and helpful communities.

Without further ado, here it is – the list that will hopefully help you get your data back from the prying hands of cyber criminals.

Ransomware Decryption Tools – an ongoing list

7even-HONE$T decrypting tool
Agent.iih decrypting tool (decrypted by the Rakhni Decryptor)
Al-Namrood decrypting tool
Alpha decrypting tool
Bart decrypting tool
Chimera decrypting tool + alternative 1 + alternative 2
Crypren decrypting tool
DeCrypt Protect decrypting tool
Mircop decrypting tool + alternative

 

As you may have noticed, some of these decryption tools work for multiple ransomware families, while certain strains have more than one solution (although this is rarely the case).

From a practical perspective, some of the decryptors are easy to use, but some require some technical know-how. As much as we’d want this process more simple and easier, it doesn’t always happen.

No matter how much work and time researchers put into reverse engineering cryptoware, the truth is that we’ll never have a solution to all of these infections. It would take an army of cyber security specialists working around the clock to get something like this done.

But being pragmatic doesn’t mean adopting a pessimistic outlook. In fact, if you apply the simple steps we outlined in the the anti-ransomware security plan, you can avoid this kind of attacks and their consequences.

Even if cyber criminals do manage to infect your PC, you can just wipe the system clean and restore your latest backup. No money lost and, most importantly, no important information compromised! So, please, please back up your data. Not tomorrow, not this weekend, not next week. Do it today!

I hope that it will solve some of your ransomware-related problems. Moreover, please think about sharing the simple principles outlined in the the anti-ransomware security plan, with your friends and family. It could spare them the negative experience of being a cyber attack victim.

Check out the current amazing Deals From Heimdal Security to enhance your PC Security above all normal Anti-Virus protection.


Wealthy Affiliate

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Wealthy Affiliate

Are you already a member of the Wealthy Affiliate community?

If not, you can now check it out in the other pages and posts on Powerful Affiliate starting with how to start an online business that makes money - here you will find links to the current most popular and most important articles.

Or, right now, You can join as a starter member for free.......including two free websites - so nothing to lose, right.


That's it for today.

Thank you for visiting.

As always, I love to get your comments or suggestions so, please use the comment box below or, if you prefer, Contact Me.

Stay safe out  there.

Cheers for now,

Michael.

Advance Fees Scam

Nigerian “419 Scams”

advance-fees-scam
Cyber Criminals

An Advance fees scam occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return.

The advance fees scam, also commonly known as “Nigerian” scams, have been around in various forms for decades. In fact, they predate the Internet and email. The scams are also called “419 scams” after the appropriate part of the Nigerian criminal code.

Nigerian scammers still use surface mail and faxes as well as email and social media.

General Variety of Advance Fee Scams

The variety of advance fee scams is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, “found money,” or many other “opportunities.”

Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a “finder’s fee” in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source.

Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the “finder” according to the contract.

Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the “finder” never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.

How the Scam Works

advance-fees-scam
Scam

The scam works like this. You receive an unsolicited message that masquerades as some manner of business proposition, request for assistance, notice of a potential inheritance or opportunity to help a charity.

As described in general above, there is a seemingly endless array of cover stories that the scammers use in order to draw potential victims into the con.

In spite of this diversity, virtually all of the scam messages share a common theme. The messages all claim that your help is needed to access a large sum of money, usually many millions of dollars.

The scammers use a variety of stories to explain why they need your help to access the funds.

Examples of Advance Fee Scam Stories

They may claim that the climate or legal issues preclude them from accessing funds in a foreign bank account and request your help to gain such access.

They may claim that your last name is the same as that of the deceased person who owned an account and suggest that you act as the Next of Kin of this person in order to gain access to the account’s funds.

They may claim that a rich businessman, who has a terminal illness, needs your help to distribute his wealth to charity.

They may claim that a soldier stationed overseas has discovered a cache of hidden cash left by a fleeing dictator and needs your help to get the money out of the country.

An alternative type of advance fee scam uses messages claiming that recipients have won a large sum of money in an international lottery. Victims are asked to send advance fees and personal information – supposedly, to allow the processing of prize funds for sending to the winner. In reality, there is no prize.

Typically, advance fee scammers will send many thousands of identical scam messages to email recipients all around the world. It only takes a few recipients to fall for the claims in the messages to make the operation pay off for the criminals.

The Bait

advance-fees-scam
Bait used!

The messages offer to let you keep a significant percentage of the funds in exchange for your assistance. This percentage is the bait that the scammers use to entice potential victims deeper into the scam.

Once a recipient has taken the bait and initiated a dialogue with the scammers, he or she will soon receive requests for “fees” that the scammer claims are necessary for processing costs, tax and legal fees, or bribes to local officials.

The scammers will warn the victim that these advance fees must be paid before the funds can be claimed and secured.

In reality, the supposed funds do not exist. The major purpose of these scam messages is to trick recipients into parting with their money in the form of the advance fees.

Fraudulent requests for fees will usually continue until the victim realises he or she is being conned and stops sending money. In some cases, the scammers gain enough information to access the victim’s bank account directly or steal the victim’s identity.

What to Do With an Advance Fee Scam Message

If you receive one of these scam emails, it is important that you do not respond to it in any way. The scammers are likely to act upon any response from those they see as potential victims.

Although it can be educational and even entertaining to “bait” advance fee scammers, such endeavours should only be attempted under controlled conditions.

advance-fees-scam
Trash

These scammers are unscrupulous and unpredictable criminals. There have been violent attacks, abductions and even murders associated with advance fee Nigerian scams and the criminals that run them should not be trifled with.

The best thing to do with these scam messages is to simply delete them.

What To Do If You Have Submitted Information

If you have supplied banking and credit card details, personal information, and/or copies of identity documents such as your driver’s licence and passport to the scammers, then you could become a victim of identity theft. You must report everything to your nearest Law Enforcement Agency.

What To Do If You Have Already Given Money

Unfortunately, there is probably very little you can do to recover any money you have already sent. The first step is to cease all communication with the scammers and do not, under any circumstances, send them any more money or information.

It is not uncommon for advance fee scam victims to fall into an escalation of commitment trap and continue to send money to the scammers even after they have been told they are being conned.

This is because victims can become desperate and are unwilling to let go of the vain hope that the scheme that they are involved in is legitimate after all and that they will eventually get their promised windfall.

If you have sent money to scammers, you should inform your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.

Also, take steps to protect your identity by accessing information about identity theft published by the Federal Trade Commission (US), ScamWatch, (Australia) or ActionFraud (UK).

Tips for Avoiding Advanced Fee Scams

advance-fees-scam
Help Tips
  1. If the offer of an “opportunity” appears too good to be true, then it probably is. Follow common business practice. For example, legitimate business is rarely conducted in cash on a street corner.
  2. Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, consult with your bank, an attorney or the police.
  3. Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
  4. Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address.
  5. Be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.
  6. Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use non-circumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.
  7. Although many still originate from Nigeria – hence the generic term “Nigerian scam” – it is certainly not only Nigerian based criminals that send them. In spite of the longevity of this type of scam and the large amount of publicity that it has received, many people around the world are still being conned out of substantial sums of money.

That is a serious problem, so be careful.


Wealthy Affiliate

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Wealthy Affiliate

Are you already a member of the Wealthy Affiliate community?

If not, you can find out more by checking the other pages and posts on Powerful Affiliate starting with how to start an online business that makes money – here you will find links to the current most popular and most important articles.

Or, right now, You can join as a starter member for free…….including two free websites – so nothing to lose, right.


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The Laptop Millionaire…click on image

So there you have it for today.

Thank you for visiting.

I love getting feedback, so please leave a comment or suggestion in the box below – or, if you prefer, contact me.

Cheers for now.

Michael.

Fake Antivirus Software

Does This Look Familiar?

We all saw this message on our screens at least once, Right!:

“You have been infected! Download antivirus X right now to protect your computer!”

fake-antivirus-software
Fake Antivirus Protection Pop-Up

Many of these fake antivirus software pop-ups are very well created to resemble actual messages that you might get from Windows or from a normal, reputable security product provider.

What Can You Do?

If you are lucky, they are nothing more than a hoax that will annoy and distract you by displaying unwanted pop-ups on the screen while you browse online.

In this case, to get rid of the annoying pop-ups, I recommend you do a scan on your system using a good antivirus product – most likely you have one already installed, possibly McAfee or Norton etc.

Usually, there is an Anti-Virus package installed on new PCs and this can be activated for a free trial period after which, assuming you are happy with it, you can subscribe and renew it annually.

If you are not so lucky, you can end up with malware on your system, such as these examples:

fake-antivirus-software
Trojan malware

Trojan – which is any malicious computer program that is used to hack into a computer by misleading users of its true intent.

or

Keylogger – which is the action of recording (logging) the keys struck on a keyboard, typically covertly, so that the person using the keyboard is unaware that their actions are being monitored.

This kind of message could also come from one of the most dangerous ransom ware threats around, such as CryptoLocker, which is capable of blocking and encrypting your operating system and requesting from you a large sum of money in exchange for the decryption key.

To avoid this situation, I recommend using a specialised security product against this kind of financial malware, in addition to your traditional antivirus program.

To help you, I have put together some of the steps you can take to improve your digital security. There are ten in all so here goes:

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How to start an online business…

Steps To Bulletproof Your Digital Security

1 – Use a Reliable Antivirus Product

You may have heard that the Antivirus product is dead! Yes I know, it sounds strange, but the traditional antivirus product is not dead – not just yet. You still need a good antivirus to catch most malware, to block phishing threats and to check the web reputation of popular online domains.

Though it is not an easy task to find the best antivirus product from the market, it is worth checking the top brands as it is still a very useful tool to block most malware threats.

2 – Stick with your old firewall solution

Though the firewall has recently been placed on the list of ineffective security tools that we can forget about, there are those out that consider firewalls are still useful.

Though there are limitations to the Firewall blocking capabilities, it is still a good tool that you can use to filter your Internet traffic and toblock communications from an infected machine or internet location.

From a security point of view, there is quite a similarity between the Antivirus products and the Firewall. They are both covering some areas of Internet security, but just not all of them.

3 – Use anti-spyware solutions to protect your system
fake-antivirus-software
Cyber criminal

Spyware is software that monitors your Internet traffic and uses your personal information against you.

In cases where multiple issues appear, like system slow-down, pop-ups when you navigate new toolbars and random error messages, all these indicate a possible spyware infection.

To stay safe from spyware, you can use a few popular anti-spyware products, like Malwarebytes or Spybot Search and Destroy.

Or, to prevent this type of infection, take precautions and follow a few steps:

  • don’t click suspicious links in e-mails from unknown people
  • don’t click unexpected pop-ups, even from legitimate websites
  • don’t disclose personal information to strangers on social media platforms
  • pay attention to “drive-by downloads” that could bring spyware on your system

A Spam and Phishing Statistics Report from 2014 reveals that malicious attachments remain a popular option for spreading malicious programs that are designed to steal financial information and personal details.

4 – Use automatic update tools for your vulnerable applications

Are you using Adobe Flash, Reader or Java on your operating system? Are you using at least one popular web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox?

Almost 100% of users respond positive to these questions and, unfortunately, most online attacks take place when cyber criminals use unpatched vulnerabilities from these software programs.

By using “security holes” in unpatched applications, cybercriminals manage to deliver financial and data stealing malware on the affected systems.

For this reason, we always need to know we have the latest security patches available and this can only be done by using a free solution that does this automatically for you.

5 – Use a password manager for your credentials

We all have a great number of online accounts and websites and it is very easy to forget what passwords we have set for each account. To avoid this issue, most people simply decide to use just a few passwords all the time. Unfortunately, this is exactly what hackers count on!

fake-antivirus-software
Password protection is vital

Why, because not all these online accounts incorporate high security standards to protect your password. So, if a hacker can break just one account and find out your password, they can simply use it on all your other online accounts!

To avoid all the issue above, you could simply use multiple passwords and keep a reliable list of those passwords or you could use a good password manager like LastPass.

An additional option is to use a password generator that will give you long and complicated passwords.

Finally, don’t forget to log off after every online session.

6 – Back-up your system and sensitive information

IT security experts will tell you to use a back-up solution for the system and your sensitive information. So, even if your system is blocked by ransomware that stops you from accessing it, you can format the system and use your backup to get back on track.

You can use one of the back-up solutions available from your PC supplier or the internet with an exterior storage device or you can keep the most important data in the “cloud” and access it from any location and any device.

7 – Maximize your data and financial protection

These security products are designed to detect online threats that normal antivirus products can’t remove. We talk about “zero-day” attacks that a traditional signature based antivirus is not able to block from infecting your system.

Most of the time, these solutions target financial information from the system, like credit card and pin numbers or personal data that we employ on online banking accounts.

In order to get protection against data stealing malware, the solution you need should:

  • include a real-time Internet traffic scanner that scans all incoming network data for potential malware threats
  • provide malware detection and removal of malicious code from a system
  • contain online scanning capabilities that detect malicious software from online pages and legitimate websites

To assure financial security for banking operations and protection against zero day malware, you need an advanced scanning technology that can protect you from the latest threats.

8 – Encrypt your important files
fake-antivirus-software
Heimdal    PRO

By encrypting your personal information you make sure cyber criminals can’t access your confidential data, even if they gain access to your operating system.

You can choose to encrypt files on your local disk or you can choose an online location, which makes things more difficult for any hacker.

Since this is a wide ranging topic, we recommend that you think about encryption as an important part of your online security strategy.

For example, you can use an encryption program for your files, but how useful can it be if your password for the program is not that strong?

A fast and easy solution to encrypt your files is to use Microsoft’s BitLocker software, which is now installed on most Windows systems.

To protect only the sensitive files from your system, you can use a light and easy to use program like 7Zip, which is also useful in case you want to send a file by e-mail. Just make sure you don’t include the password in the same e-mail.

9 – Protect your online traffic by using multiple tools

How do we keep our system safe from online threats? It is the same question we started this article with, but are we closer to the answer?

To improve our online protection, we cannot rely on a single solution, rather we need to understand that multiple means and guidelines must followed:

  • let’s start with the browser. Are you using the latest version that contains all the available security patches?
  • did you know that you can improve your good old browser?
  • how much do you travel outside your home or place of business so you need to use public networks and computers? In case you do, don’t forget to use a private browsing session to go online or at least use a free proxy server to hide your IP address from surveillance mechanisms.
  • are you serious about online security and privacy? Then you need to best tools available out there. To encrypt your online connection, use a VPN solution. Choose the Tor browser to hide your Internet activity by sending your communication through the Tor network of computers.
10 – Listen and learn from the best security experts

Though you may rely on one or more security solutions to do the job for you, a set of security solutions and online safety guidelines from the best security experts should be followed.

That’s why learning from the best in the IT industry is an important step in improving your online safety.

fake-antivirus-software
Heimdal PRO

At the same time, learning is a process and in today’s security landscape, staying up-to-date is vital, that’s why I recommend a long list of security blogs you need to check out and follow to find out about the latest threats on the internet.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about all this? Do you consider antivirus is dead? Are you using a single security solution or more to keep your system safe?

Online scams have been developed using increasingly sophisticated software to deceive and manipulate internet users, most especially targeting the rich Western countries.

According to the FBI, online scams have increased over the last 10 years and the total losses doubled in the recent years, affecting both private individuals and large scale businesses.

For this reason, cyber-criminal activities are now subject to federal investigations and are treated as a very serious problem that affects us all.

You may think that you can’t be fooled by these online scams, since some of them are quite hilarious, such as the one promising to send you money or the one where the scammers pretend to be FBI agents.

But some stories are so convincing for the potential victims that it is difficult to know how to deal with them.

Since some scams are so well organised and convincing, and the people behind so difficult to catch, we need to always keep our guard up. Stay informed about the latest scamming strategies.

Have you met some of the above scams while browsing or in your email inbox? What were the most convincing ones?

Conclusion

A year ago, one of Symantec’s executives declared that Antivirus is dead!

How should we interpret or try to understand such a statement from one of the leading names in IT security?

Brian Dye, Symantec’s senior vice president who made that statement, said those words indicated that traditional antivirus software manages to block only 45% of computer systems attacks. At the same time, he also mentioned that security experts need to concentrate on tracking advanced pieces of code that cyber criminals and hackers’ use as tools to retrieve sensitive information.

When you break it down, all this does not mean that Antivirus Protection is dead and that we should all just give up antivirus products.

No, it means we must adopt new tools to protect against modern phishing attempts, spam campaigns, malicious web pages and cyber-criminal attacks.

So, be careful.

I hope this post has helped you to better understand this very live issue.


Earning An Income Online

Despite all the potential hazards when using the internet, learning How To Work Online At Home, especially when you base your online business on something you are passionate about, can really be enjoyable……..yes, work can be really enjoyable – why, because each and every one of your daily tasks will be about your PASSION!

To make it even more enjoyable, when you sign up as a Starter member with Wealthy Affiliate (where I got started), you can have 2 x Free Websites, amazing training and equally amazing support while getting your online business up and running.

So, go and give it a try, you have nothing to lose!


There you have it for today.

Please comment or offer your suggestion in the box below or, if you prefer, Contact me.

Cheers for now and stay safe.

Michael.

How To Avoid A Phishing Scam

What Is Phishing & How Can I Avoid It

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Phishing scam!

Many of you will not remember a world without the “Internet”. Is that mad or what?

Long, Long Ago!!

Think about it, surviving without the iPhone or even Mobile Phones as they were called or laptop, hard to imagine I know, but it’s not that long ago!

Then it’s not hard to imagine, that once the Internet came into being, Cyber Criminals, as they are now called, were not far behind.

These cyber criminals, using their malicious software, started to infect online businesses and individual accounts which were part of the developing networks being created and spreading all over the world. So, it is important that we familiarise ourselves with this problem and find out how to avoid a phishing scam.

Nowadays

Nowadays, Internet services and websites make our daily lives that much easier by facilitating the payment of bills, shopping, making online reservations, working from home online, earning money online, communicating with each other and, of course, how we carry out our duties in our workplace.

You can now do any of these actions from any place in the world. Borders, boundaries and human limitations have been largely eliminated in order for us to have access to almost any information……….our lives have become so much easier!!

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How to start an online business…

Cyber Criminals

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Cyber Criminals!

Unfortunately, we can say the same thing about Cyber Crime. All communications require a “connection” and these connections have been compromised again and again. The internet will always be vulnerable to these so called “cyber criminals”.

These days, more than ever before, cyber criminals can reach into our private lives, our personal communication devices, our homes and our work offices. There is an ongoing battle between high powered Technology Giants and cyber criminals –criminals who are becoming more and more sophisticated and technically aware of developments within the telecommunications industry.

Malware Scams & Phishing Scams

Criminals use various methods and tools:

Malware Scams – Traditional malicious software that attacks the vulnerabilities that are present in almost all the current programs and apps (even in the popular Windows operating systems).

Phishing Scams – These start with you getting a message by email or through a social network. Complicated, ingenious Phishing Scams are often deployed from unexpected regions of the world, where the Law and justice can’t easily reach the perpetrators.

The most common situations where you become vulnerable to Malicious Software (Malware Attack) or a Phishing Scam take place when you:

  • Shop Online
  • Open your emails
  • Access Social Media Networks

Therefore, in order to protect ourselves, we need to know what are the most popular schemes and techniques used by cyber criminals to obtain our private information and financial data.

Never forget, their final target is always your money and there is nothing they won’t do to get at it.

Phishing Email Scams

Phishing scams start with a communication made by email or on social networks.

Typically, you will receive messages from Cyber criminals who try to trick you into giving them your login credentials – for your bank account,

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Did YOU get a phishing scams on your PC?

social network, work account, cloud storage or any other personal data area they think might be valuable to them.

To disguise their intentions, the phishing emails will seem to come from an official source – it could be a bank or other financial institute, but could also be a delivery company or social network representative.

By doing it this way, they are hoping you will click on the links contained by their messages and thereby access a website that looks legit, looks like the real one – but is actually controlled by the cyber criminals. You will then be sent to a fake login access page that resembles the real website and, if you’re not paying attention, you may well end up giving away your login credentials and other personal information.

In addition and in order to increase their success rate, scammers will deliberately create a sense of urgency in the message. They’ll tell you a frightening story of how your bank account is under threat and how you really need to access it as soon as possible via a web page where you must insert your credentials in order to confirm your identity or your account.

Again of course, the provided link will only lead you to the fake web location and not to your real login page. After you fill in your online banking credentials, cyber criminals will use them to breach your real bank account or to sell them on to other interested criminals.

This is one of the main scamming techniques used to spread financial malware and data stealing malware. Realistically, there isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be well prepared for any such attempts. However, even if you install a good antivirus program, there is no better way to stay safe from this threat than to avoid the initial infection phase.

So, How Do I Avoid Getting Caught In The Phishing Net?

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Nice FISH….does not cause a problem like Phishing does!

A – Sender Details  

First thing to check: the sender’s email address.

Look at the email header – does the sender’s email address match the name and the domain?

Spoofing the display name of an email, in order for it to appear as if it is from a “brand name”, is one of the most basics phishing tactics.

Example: An email from Amazon that comes from “noreply@amazon.com” is legitimate. But an email that looks like it is from someone at Amazon but was sent from a different domain, like the email in the picture below, is most certainly not from Amazon.

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Sample Phishing Email

Check and compare the headers from a genuine valid message that you have from the same source with those on the suspect message.

  • If they don’t match:
  • Don’t click on anything
  • Don’t download any attachment.

Here is a tool for experts – You can also analyse the email header and track IP using this tool.

If you are using Gmail – You can turn on the authentication icon for verified senders. This way, you will see a key icon next to authenticated messages from trusted senders, such as Google Wallet, eBay or PayPal. Unfortunately, only a few domains are currently supported by this program, but hopefully it will extend in the future.

Another verification method available for Gmail users – Check whether the email was authenticated by the sending domain. Open the message and click on the drop-down arrow below the sender’s name. Make sure the domain you see next to the ‘mailed-by’ or ‘signed-by’ lines matches the sender’s email address. Find out more about it here.

It will look like this:

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Sample

The second thing to check: the address the email was sent to.

Look at the To and CC fields. If the email was sent to old or wrong addresses, it may indicate it was sent to old lists or randomly generated emails.

B – Message Content

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Lies & more lies

Clue number one – They ask you to send them or verify personal information via email. Or, they are asking for information which the supposed sender should already have.

Clue number two – They are likely to play on your emotions or urgency. As a general rule, be suspicious of any mail that has urgent     requests (e.g. “respond in two days otherwise you will lose this deal”), exciting or upsetting news, offers, gift deals or coupons (especially around major holidays or events, such as Black Friday or Christmas).

Clue number three – They claim there was some sort of problem with your recent purchase or delivery and ask you to resend personal information or just click on a link to resolve it. Banks or legitimate e-Commerce representatives will never ask you to do that, as it’s not a secure method to transmit such information.

Here’s an example of PayPal phishing:

how-to-avoid-a-phishing-scam
Example of Phishing using PayPal Logo

Clue number four – They claim to be from a law enforcement agency. Law Enforcement Agencies never use email as a form of contact.

Clue number five – They ask you to call a number and give your personal details over the phone. If this is the case, search for the official correspondence from the company and use the phone number provided by them to verify if this is true.

C – Message Form

First rule -Beware of bogus or misleading links. Hover your mouse over the links in the email message in order to check them BEFORE clicking on them. The URLs may look valid at a first glance, but may use a variation in spelling or a different domain ( .net instead of .com, for example). Thanks to the new generic topic-level domains that were introduced in 2014, spammers and phishers gained new tools for their campaigns.

Some Scams use JavaScript – Other phishing scams use JavaScript  to place a picture of a legit URL over a browser’s address bar. The URL revealed when hovering with your mouse over a link can also be changed using Java.

Second rule – Look out for IP address links or URL shorteners. They can take a long URL, shorten it using services such as bit.ly, and redirect it to the intended destination. It’s hard to find out what’s on the other end of that link, so you might be falling into a trap – better be safe than sorry. Useful Tools – Check a redirect with this Redirect Checker from Internet Officer, to see where it’s leading to. Or screenshot the page remotely using Browser Shots.

Third rule – Beware of typos or spelling mistakes. This used to be the norm, but it’s no longer as common.

Fourth rule – Beware of amateurish looking designs. This means images that don’t match the background or look formatted to fit the style of the email. Stock photos, photos or logos uploaded at low resolution or bad quality.

Fifth rule – Beware of missing signatures. Lack of details about the sender or how to contact the company points in the phishing direction. A legitimate company will always provide such information.

D – Attachments

Look out for attachments. They can attach other types of files, such as PDF or DOC, that contain links. Or they can hide malware or they can cause your browser to crash while installing malware.

The latest Kaspersky Labs reports show that in Q3 of 2015 there’s been an increase in phishing using attachments and “A particular feature was a new trick used in phishing emails – in order to bypass spam filters they placed the text of the email and fraudulent link in an attached PDF document rather than in the message body”.

E – External Links / Websites

Let’s assume that you already clicked on a link from a suspicious email. Is the domain correct? Don’t forget that the link may look identical, but use a variation in spelling or domain.

Before submitting any information on that website, make sure that you are on a secure website connection. You can easily check that by looking at the link:

Does it start with “https” or “http”? The extra “s” will mean that the website has SSL. SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer and is a method to ensure that the data sent and received is encrypted. More legit and safe websites will have a valid SSL certificate installed.

Another way to check that, is to look on the left of the web address: is there an icon of a closed padlock? Or is the address highlighted in green? This will indicate that you are visiting an encrypted site and the transferred data is safe.

F – Helpful Tools

Use browsers that offer built-in phishing protection. In general, there are two ways to detect phishing websites – Heuristics and Blacklists.

Heuristic Method A heuristic method analyses patterns in URL, words in web pages and servers in order to classify the site and warn the user.

Blacklists Google and Microsoft operate blacklists. Google integrated them with Firefox and Chrome, so a warning message will appear before entering a phishing website. Microsoft is integrated with Internet Explorer and Edge.

You can also install browser add-on’s and extensions designed to block phishing attempts. Read more tips on this subject on Tech Support Alert.

Conclusion

Online scams have been developed using increasingly sophisticated means to deceive users, especially in the rich Western countries.

According to FBI, online scams have increased over the last 10 years and the total losses doubled in the recent years, affecting both private individuals and large scale businesses. For this reason, cyber criminal activities are now subject to federal investigations and are treated as a very serious problem that affects us all.

For an extended list of common fraud schemes discovered and analysed by FBI, you can check this article.

You may think that you can’t be fooled by these online scams, since some of them are quite hilarious, such as the one promising to send you money or the one where the scammers pretend to be FBI agents. However, some stories are so convincing for the potential victims that it is difficult to know how to deal with them. Since some scams are so well organised and convincing, and the people behind them are so difficult to catch, we need to always keep our guard up. So, keep checking this site and others to stay informed about the latest scamming strategies.

Have you come across any of the above scams while browsing or in your email inbox? What were the most convincing ones?

Example of an Ethical, Legitimate Website – Wealthy Affiliate.

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A Premium option is available and will be offered later on if you want to progress to multiple websites, more features and more training.

Finally, I would love to hear your comments – please use the comment box below or, if you prefer,Contact Me.

Thank’s for visiting.

Cheers for now and do take care out there.

Michael

 

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