SCAMMERS AND SPAMMERS

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Apologies to any "Computer Experts" for the following simplistic explanation - I am fully aware that it is a very general simple explanation - it is designed to be informative people who know little about computers! If you know all about the subject, you do not need to read this ! ! !

"The world is full of trickery" as the old poem goes . . .

Never more so than now, with the "World Wide Web" which is a remarkable piece of work, but is fully open to anyone who has a computer connected to it. To avoid the disappointment of your PC malfunctioning shortly after you "get online" please observe the guidelines below.
Remember - without proper protection as you look around the Internet, others could be watching you!

Scams:

There are many Internet scams, and the rule: "If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is" should always be applied. Think about it - In your day to day life, how likely is it that some Nigerian chap is going to really deposit 1 million dollars (or pounds) into your bank account? Unrealistic I think!

Or how unrealistic is it, that someone wants to give you £3000.00 for your Ebay item that you have for sale, then only asks you to return the balance to him - again - I don't think so - do you . . . . .!

A friend of mine fell for the lottery scam - he phoned me - very excited & he had already phoned the scammer using the phone number in the email to give him some personal details. Amazing, this was someone who should have known better!

The other scams come from someone pretending to be a bank or building society, asking for your details to update the "records" A lot of these "SPOOF" emails will also be about your Ebay account details & they come from all over the world. Often the grammar or spelling is incorrect, which makes them even more pointless. It is a numbers game - send out thousands of these spoof emails & a small percentage of people will be taken in. If the scammer only gets 1 person out of 1000 to part with money - they win - the emails they send are automated & free!

If you receive an Email saying that you have won the lottery - ask yourself  "did I enter a lottery online?"

The spammers & scammers are clever, the way the emails are sent often allows them through "spam" filters. There are effective "anti-spam" programs available like "Mailwasher" which will help filter out some of the rubbish. The only trouble is, that when you only get genuine emails, you don't get so many & then feel unloved and unwanted - but never mind.

Protection Tips:

Rule #1:

The first thing not to do, is type into the Internet Explorer toolbar "free" (before anything you want to look at), many internet newcomers do this, without a firewall and without antivirus protection. You will find yourself often immediately in an area of the internet which will often try to compromise the security of your PC. Not surprisingly, often porn sites & hacker's sites have links to each other! The hacker's sites offer free passwords to porn sites to lure you into their clutches. Also, avoid websites with the offers of: "no credit card required" - "free signup" - "instant access" Once you have the required online protection, correctly set up, you will be very surprised to see what happens when you go to the front page of some of these "free - no credit card required" website. Unfortunately most protection software of this type needs configuring & setting up correctly to be effective at all.

Rule #2:

Never type in your email address when asked for it in order to enter a website that you want to look at. All that will happen is that usually you will start to get "spam" (junk) email which will soon spiral out of control. If you must type in your email address into websites to access "free" stuff, then open a "hotmail" account to receive the spam. If you are on a website that asks you to download anything in order to connect to it - do not do this! - sometimes the only way to get rid of the popup is to press "control - alt - delete" together & select "end task" to quit Internet Explorer! One scam is to get you to click "accept", the the program downloads onto your PC & if you have a dial up modem, the next time you connect to the internet modem will dial a phone number in Bankok or somewher like that, to connect you to the internet, instead of using the 0845 number that it is supposed to! ! ! Very clever eh?

Rule #3:

Never give your personal details over the web or in email. ie: credit card numbers, home phone numbers or personal home address information. If you are buying an item over the net, make sure that you read a bit about the service before typing in the numbers & hitting "submit". When you are "surfing the web"on your PC, as you look at various websites, they can also easily look at you as well! If you do not have the required security level setup on your PC, you are vulnerable to all sorts of problems such as the items outlined below:

The Dangers of unsubscribing to Unsolicited Email (Spam)

NEVER UNSUBSCRIBE

If the email (Electronic Mail) is not from a legitimate organization that you have had prior communication with, then following the removal instructions included in the spam email usually just gets you even more spam. By using the removal instructions, you have verified that you received the spam and read it. That makes your email address even more valuable to the spammer, who will just send it straight out to more spammers - and you will just get even more junk in the future. It can get so bad that the only way out is to change your email address completely, or revert back to a carrier pigeon! Normally, we recommend that you never reply to spam email, or trust any of the information in the spam unless you really know what information you can and cannot trust. For instance, if you get a spam from someone , you should not reply to them, nor should you report the spam to the email's abuse administrator (Usually, most of the information in the header of the spam is "forged." Just as you can put any return address on a normal paper letter, spammers can put any return address they want on their email. Usually, the return address belongs to someone the spammer wants to annoy with a bunch of erroneous complaints.

Web Bugs, Spyware, Popups & Cookies:

These are small items deposited in your PC, allowing information to be sent out from your PC to other sites while you are online. Some are harmless usage tracking packages, some are more malicious. Spyware can send out all manner of information about you to whoever the spyware reports back to.Even some "respectable" sites send out usage tracking collectors to allow them to see how & where their websites are being viewed. Popups are annoying to say the least, as you view a site constant pages pop up all over the place, "Google" has a free "Popup Blocker" available as a free toolbar download from the "Google" site. From this toolbar, you are able to choose which sites you wish to receive "popups" from. Some websites need to have a popup facility in order for them to work, online webmail is a good example. Most "popups" are just annoying!

Hackers:

There are a lot of strange people out there! They are very clever people too, an average "hacker" is more than capable of getting right inside your PC while you surf on the web, stealing all your private files, or even deleting your hard drive! They can plant really nasty, malicious programs on your computer, like - Viruses & Trojan Horses (programs designed to execute at a pre detemined future time) or other remote access programs. Microsoft are constantly updating the way Windows works to fight against this problem. It is a good idea to visit the "Microsoft Critical Update Site" regularly to keep your system updated! This is a slow laborious process if you only have a 56k analogue modem, but if you get "Broadband" .............

"ADSL - Broadband is connected all of the time. This is a great way to use the internet. A standard 512 connection is very fast indeed, relative to a 56k modem - approximately 10 times faster! Unfortunately, because it is "ON" all the time, your PC is more prone to attack. A standard ADSL modem that you get with your "Broadband" package is not very secure. The addition of a "Firewall Router" is highly recommended. There are many of these on the market, some routers connect tou your existing ADSL modem, some have their own ADSL modem built in.

Tip:

Internet Explorer versions allow a website to read the files on a users local system. To prevent this, open Internet Explorer, then go to "Tools" - "Internet Options" - "Security" - select "Custom Level" then set "Active Scripting" or "Navigate sub-frames across different domains" to "Prompt" or "Disable". The problem with tightening your Internet security too much, is that messages asking you what to do next pop up everytime you access websites, so a compromise has to be made somewhere. It is pretty safe to put a link to microsoft in the trusted sites section of Internet Explorer, at least you will be able to run the "Windows Update"without having any problems.

A" firewall" is a filter between the internet & your PC. It can be user configured to use various security levels & options.

A "hardware firewall" is the kind built into your firewall router, a "software firewall" is a program that you run on your PC.
Think of a hardware firewall as a transformer with a primary & secondary winding. The "primary" faces the internet, the "secondary" is your own PC or internal network.

"McAfee" or "Norton" has a software firewall, antivirus & internet security all in the one package, I use it as well as my hardware firewall.

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