Avoid phish with chips

A MEMBER reports that soon after buying from www.amazon.co.uk they received multiple emails starting "Amazon is committed to maintaining a safe environment for its community of customers. To protect the security of your account," and concluding: "To securely confirm your Amazon information please click on the link bellow:"

They didn't click. They were wise. Some readers will have spotted the signs and know what comes next. This is advice for the rest.

Those emails were "phishing" attempts: a ruse to try to get us to reveal account details and passwords.

The message had nothing to do with the Amazon purchase. That was a coincidence. Between 12 and 14 June, for example, the Freelance received four such messages claiming to come from three banks - one of which happens to be our bank.

One simple rule deals with phishing attempts: never click on any link in any email that claims to come from any institution that handles your money. Money-handling institutions never send emails requesting (or linking to pages that request) passwords or sensitive information. Not banks, not credit card providers, PayPal, Amazon nor eBay. Never.

Buddha says: avoid attachments

In fact, that rule needs to be extended. Never click on any link, nor open any attachment file, in any email until you are satisfied that you know who has sent it to you, that it was really them that sent it, and why they sent it.

Every day we get emails from computers announcing that they have failed to deliver junk mail, and worse, which claimed to have been sent from someone@londonfreelance.org - and some of you may have had dodgy messages that claim to come from us. Anyone who clicked on links in some of those messages would install a nasty virus-like program on their computer. That would read their email address book and send it off to the purveyors of spam and viruses.

If the Freelance is in their address book, it may get picked at random as the false sender of a whole bunch more viruses and/or spam. If you let this happen to you, your contacts may start receiving nasties that claim to come from you.

The Freelance is probably in hundreds or thousands of address books, and some of their owners have clearly clicked thoughtlessly - which is one reason our name is already being taken in vain.

Then last week we started getting fake emails thus: "Your account has been used to send a large quantity of spam. Click here..." No way!

Getting an anti-virus program and keeping it up to date can help avoid this problem. But you only have to click once on a new virus-like attachment that the program doesn't recognise. Vigilance is still your duty.

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