One way to stay safe from cybercrime is to watch out for things that don’t make sense. For example, I received an email notifying me that I owed back taxes. The sender was listed as “Internal Revenue Service.” Already we have a situation that doesn’t make sense.
If the IRS thinks you owe them past due taxes, they won’t communicate with you about that by email. In fact, they won’t text you about it, send a Facebook status update about it or Tweet it. Think hard copy, U.S. mail.
The hackers are using the IRS name to illicit an emotional reaction that might trump common sense. If you click on the attachment in an email like this, you might download malware on your computer.
The word “malware” is derived from two terms, malicious and software. If you download malicious software on your computer, it can do such things as intercept your keystrokes when you login to your various accounts, including bank, email and more. The hackers can then use the stolen credentials to hijack those accounts.
The only thing worse than having malware on your computer is having it on your computer and being unaware. That’s exactly what these programs are designed to do, hiding in the background and in many cases, they cannot be detected by antivirus programs.
To avoid this type of malware, don’t click on links or attachments in emails about subjects that don’t make sense.
It’s an easy point to forget, as many of us make are way through dozens of emails per day, often at a fast clip. So to help you remember the common sense rule, here is a short story about common sense.
The FBI had a wiretap on the phone of a mobster’s named Tony. As agents listened, a call came from Joe.
Tony: Joe, I am really glad you called.
Joe: Yeah, why?
Tony: I got a little problem. I think the FBI is tapping my phone.
Joe: What are you going to do about it?
Tony: I already got a solution. I got a new number.
Joe: OK good. Gimme the number.
Now for just a second, Tony gets some common sense.
Tony: I better not give it to you on the phone.
Joe: Right…that’s smart.
Tony: I’ll meet you for lunch and give it to you then.
Joe: I can’t meet you for lunch.
Tony: Okay, I’ll give it to you now.
Tony: But I will give it to you backwards.
Joe: Good idea.
So Tony proceeded to give him the number in reverse order. So what did the FBI do? We got our best cryptologists on it.
Remember the Tony and Joe story and when you come across something online that doesn’t make sense. If it doesn’t, don’t proceed and keep yourself safe from possible fraud.