Security issues…

I’m sure nobody missed me, really. I just couldn’t be bothered posting anything; what little gossip or happenins I had, I didn’t feel like sharing. So sue me… 🙂

To anyone who was worried – I’m fine, just lazy! Been working hard, playing a bit, and generally getting on with it. One of the projects that’s been keeping me busy is the Harlem Globetrotters’ UK Tour – and I’ve been rewarded for my hard work with a few complimentary tickets! My siblings went to see them in Dublin on the weekend, and apparently they rocked. Cool – I’m seeing them in Wembley on the 25th, and it promises to be a hell of a show!!!

On the subject of the headline above, something that’s been troubling me recently is the increase in levels of spam – not only the rash of under-the-counter prescription drugs, or e-mails offering women penis enlargement, or any of that, but the ‘phishing’ mails. These are e-mails that are designed to get you to enter your account and password details, believing that they are from your bank or other secure source. Most notably, Halifax customers were hit by this one, but eBay and PayPal are others who’ve been spoofed in this way.

I feel moved to comment. Here it is, folks: there is no way that *anyone* who holds secure information about you is going to ask you to verify it through e-mail! Another point I have to make is that e-mail is not secure! I’ve seen people send credit card details through e-mail, without realising that it’s a transparent form of communication. Should it be intercepted, your card is compromised. Take note.

Some of these e-mails direct you to a link which is a spoofed version of the genuine website – if you get an e-mail from your bank that says “Click this link to go to our website”, IGNORE IT and use the address you always use for your banking.

VIRUSES: there are two ends to this one. The first is the genuine virus attack, and I would say that the best advice is to spend a couple of quid on a decent virus protection program and keep it constantly updated. Apart from that, if you get an e-mail from someone you’ve never heard of, entitled “Your details” or “What do you think?” or any other familiar approach, it’s likely to contain a viral attachment. It’s like safe sex – without abstinence it’s virtually impossible to be 100% protected, but take precautions and you at least have a chance! Oh, and similar to ‘phishing’ is the spoof e-mail from Microsoft, offering you an update (“Download this attachment…”) – get real! Microsoft don’t send e-mails to everyone on the planet warning them of security risks – why should they?! Its a virus….

On the other end is the hoaxes. You’ll get an e-mail, usually from a friend who’s been hoodwinked by this particular ‘chain’ – it names a file that’s a normal (usually dispensable) component of Windows, and it tells you to delete it at once if you find it, because “THAT’S THE VIRUS”. While harmless, this is desperately irritating, and people hurry to e-mail everyone in their address book to tell them that they’ve found this virus on their PC, so they’re all more than likely infected. And so on, and so forth. Do yourself a favour: before wantonly deleting harmless files from your computer, do a search in Google or wherever to see if this is a real virus alert. If you get to Symantec’s website and find it’s a hoax, you’ve saved yourself a bunch of time and embarrassment.

Final word: this article on the BBC website came as a real eye-opener to me! Someone doing a survey at Liverpool Street station found a huge number of people willing to share their computer passwords… Now, I’m pretty certain that a fair number of those people gave false passwords, but the story is hair-raising, to say the least. My password to everything is “banana”, by the way – feel free to scour my e-mails, drain my bank accounts and suck the life out of my credit cards! Happy Gullible Day!!! Sheesh…

Well, that’s all I have to say in this particular rant – just had to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening – normal service (i.e. pointless rambling drivel) will be resumed shortly.