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7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Š2010, WiseTurns.com | a Devin Dabney company This eBook is protected under the Creative Commons license. No commercial use, no changes. Feel free to share it, post it, print it, or copy it. This eBook is available for free by visiting www.wiseturns.com .

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Introduction Let’s face it; email is an important part of many people’s lives. For some people, it is a way to communicate with family members, both near and far. For others, it is a way to conduct business. No matter what the use, in most cases, email makes the process of communicating much faster and easier. There has been quite a progression from the early days of simply sending a textual message to people to now receiving emails on mobile phones and devices. From Google to Yahoo! to MSN to so many other providers, anyone can very quickly get an email address and communicate in a matter of minutes. More and more people are using email for business and personal use, but I’m finding that the majority do not have any education in email safety.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Email is one of the most common means of transporting viruses, malware, spyware, and the list goes on and on. In this free eBook, I will cover seven different areas of email safety to provide every reader with the valuable information they need to securely handle email. These areas are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Chain letters Hoaxes, rumors, and urban legends Phishing Scams and fraud Spam Spoofing Viruses

Please feel free to PRINT this 19-page eBook.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC ONE: CHAIN LETTERS --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Years ago, people sent chain letters through the mail and had all kinds of claims including if the recipient didn’t forward the letter, they would have bad luck. These days, chain letters have found their way to many email inboxes. They are also being distributed across the world in multiple forms. Here’s the bottom line: DON’T FALL FOR THE HYPE! or another way to put it is DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE/READ IN AN EMAIL! Some of the common chain letters include the following topics: 1. 2. 3.

Virus warnings Prize drawings Receiving checks for forwarding an email

I know you want to protect your friends and relatives from getting a computer virus, but when you forward the chain message, you may in fact be distributing the virus to everyone you forward it to.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Also, Bill Gates will not share any of his wealth with you regardless of how many emails you forward. These emails are designed to play upon people’s vulnerabilities. In virus chain letters, they want you to feel threatened so you’ll take action to forward it on. In money emails, they tap into most people’s desire for more money. Here are some simple action steps if you suspect you have received a chain email: If it sounds too good to be true, it is . . . so delete it! If it has been forwarded over and over again and you see all of those people’s email addresses in the body of the email, delete it. Your email will more than likely appear there if you keep forwarding and who knows who will have your address. 3. If you’re not sure, ask a knowledgeable computer professional. They can check the email out and give a recommendation. 1. 2.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC TWO: HOAXES, RUMORS, AND URBAN LEGENDS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This topic somewhat ties in to the chain letter topic. For generations, hoaxes, rumors, and urban legends have circulated by word of mouth. Now, many are circulating through email. First, let me give the meaning of each of these three terms courtesy of www.thefreedictionary.com : Hoax – an act intended to deceive or trick Rumor - A piece of unverified information of uncertain origin usually spread by word of mouth 3. Urban legend - a story that appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in various forms and is usually false; contains elements of humor or horror and is popularly believed to be true 1. 2.

My instructions for each of these three are the same as for chain letters . . . DELETE THEM!

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Some of the popular urban legends circulating are about the following: 1. The “worst ever” virus postcard 2. Add Cell Phones to the Do Not Call Registry 3. Free Laptops from Ericsson 4. “Eye of God” in Outer Space 5. Richard Gere admitted to hospital for swallowing gerbil th 6. Wendy’s 60 anniversary special menu 7. Tsunami Picture from December 26, 2004 The problem with hoaxes and rumors is some of the information may be true, but it is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Imagine this: I create a hoax email that tells recipients that unless they follow a series of commands on their computer, they will get a virus.

These people forward the email to their friends and family before they follow the steps. When they finally carry out the steps, they realize that I’ve instructed them to wipe everything from their hard drive . . . and now they’ve passed it on to people who more than likely trust them.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC THREE: PHISHING -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------According to Wikipedia, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. I’ve personally witnessed this in many forms. I’ve received emails that were allegedly from my bank or from PayPal with all kinds of confirmations, verifications, and other attempts to get my information. In fact, I’ve received emails from other financial institutions as well. I don’t even have accounts with these institutions, but the emails are sent out to a large number of people in hopes that someone who fits their target market may be persuaded into giving up their information. What to look for: 1.

Misspelled or out of place words: Many of the con artists creating these fake emails are

from countries other than the United States. They don’t have the best spelling or grammar. That’s usually a dead giveaway. 2. Messages that use the subject lines “Last Confirmation Notice” or “Final Notice”. If there was no first notice, there shouldn’t be a last one.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety 3.

Devin Dabney

False links. If you hover over a link and you see something different displaying, there’s a

good idea that someone is trying to steal your information. For instance, if you put your mouse’s cursor over a link that says www.bankname.com and it displays www.givemeyourinfo.com in the status bar at the bottom of your screen, you know that it’s a fake. Ways to combat phishing: 1. Don’t reply to a suspected phishing email 2. Don’t attempt to login to any financial website using a link from an unsolicited email 3. Don’t reply to any messages that request your username, password, account number, etc. 4. If you suspect you’ve been a victim, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov 5. If you think you’ve received a phishing email, you can forward it to spam@uce.gov 6. Some financial institutions and companies such as PayPal have email addresses for you to forward emails to if you believe someone has pretended to represent their company.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC FOUR: SCAMS AND FRAUD -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------As your parents probably told you when you were growing up, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. There are several types of email scams and fraud that are occurring online right now. Most of them involve the following: Get rich quick schemes – false claims that if you buy what they have you’ll make a whole lot of money in a short period of time 2. “Secret” information that will give you the inside track on an investment or in business 3. Getting something very valuable for little or no investment 1.

Some of the popular scams: 1. Fake lottery winnings 2. Fake inheritance notifications 3. Fake sweepstakes 4. Nigerian letters from “government officials”

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

Here’s my advice to you regarding email scams: Use caution when conducting business with people outside of the country Don’t send money, account information, or any other personal information to someone in exchange for money they promise 3. Avoid using links that you receive in emails from people you don’t know 4. Be careful not to give away account information to someone in email even you believe the email is from someone you know. 5. Don’t send sensitive information in emails at all. Whether you are the sender or you are replying, account numbers, PIN numbers, social security numbers, and other private information should not be sent via email. 1. 2.

One of the best ways to avoid being scammed is to have someone else check out the email if you’re unsure. Also watch the tone of the email. If someone is trying to get you to take immediate action to give up valuable information or your money, use caution!

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC FIVE: SPAM ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Years ago, spam was just thought of as the stuff in the blue can that you could eat. These days, another type of spam is more popular. This is email spam. In its simplest terms, the definition of spam is “junk email”. I’m sure most of us get plenty of junk mail in our home mailboxes or post office boxes, but I believe email spam can be more annoying that any of that. Here are some ways that you can avoid getting spam: Don’t put your real email address anywhere on the web. Create a disposable address at somewhere like Yahoo or Hotmail. If your real address is devin1@domain.com then you create devin2@domain.com and use that one for posting to the web. 2. Be careful when you’re signing up for something. Sometimes there is a checkbox that is automatically checked off to receive offers from third-party affiliates. If you leave it checked off, they will email you and email you often. 3. Be careful to hide your information when you’re in chat rooms or forums 1.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety 4. 5.

Devin Dabney

Create difficult email addresses that can’t be easily guessed. Avoid forwarding emails that you get from friends and family. If your address keeps floating around it will end up in the hands of a spammer.

Here are ways to deal with the spam that you may already get: Use an email program that provides a spam filter Use the “Block Sender’s Domain” feature in your email program. This will block all subsequent emails from this person’s address, as well as all other accounts ending with the same domain address. (i.e. – eddie@scammer.com and edward@scammer.com ). 3. Set up rules to filter certain types of emails to your Junk Mail folder. This way, if an email contains certain words, it will automatically be transported to that folder instead of your Inbox. 1. 2.

As a last resort, I recommend changing addresses if it gets too bad.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC SIX: SPOOFING -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This is probably one of those topics you need a little information on, so I’ll define it, tell how it happens, and then tell what you can do about it. According to WiredSafety.org, spoofing is the term for falsified e-mail addresses that appear to come from a sender when in fact, the message is really being sent by a spammer.

HOW IT HAPPENS: The spammer sends an email to the recipient and hides their address with the address they have spoofed 2. The recipient gets the email and believes it is from the address they see in the “From” box in their email program. 3. The recipient replies to the email and it goes to the person with the actual account. 4. The person whose address was spoofed may have issues and may have their account suspended due to accusations of spamming from their service provider. 1.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you get replies to emails you didn’t send (usually these will have an angry tone), your email address may have been spoofed and you can report it to your Internet Service Provider. 2. If you get a message that you believe came from a spoofed sender’s address, you can report it to their Internet Service Provider, or if it was from an institution such as a bank, they may have an abuse email to send it to, such as abuse@yourlocalbank.com . 3. As always in these situations, you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 4. You can also forward the emails to spam@uce.gov 1.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

TOPIC SEVEN: VIRUSES --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------One of the top three calls I get in my consulting business is for computers infected with viruses. In this final section of the report, I would like to tell what viruses are, how to recognize them, and how to get rid of them. According to WiredSafety.org, computer viruses are self-executing, replicating programs written specifically to change the way a machine works, without the knowledge (or permission) of the operator/owner. These nuisances can cause minor damage in some instances and in others, they can be a total nightmare.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

WAYS TO RECOGNIZE AN EMAIL VIRUS: 1.

The email will usually contain an attachment with one of the following file extensions: .BAS .BAT .CHM .CMD .COM .CRT .EXE .HLP .INF .INS .ISP .LNK .MSI .MTX .PCD .PIF .SCR .SHS .VBS .WSF .WSH

2. 3. 4.

The email may mention an account being terminated The email may state that a virus was detected in an email you sent The message may come from a weird computer-generated address.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT EMAIL VIRUSES: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Seek the opinion of an informed professional such as myself (email me) Delete the message. If it’s important enough, they’ll email you back Don’t open attachments from anyone you don’t know Use an antivirus program such as AVG Free that scans incoming and outgoing emails. Whatever you do, don’t reply to the message.

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March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety

Devin Dabney

IN CONCLUSION: There are many aspects to email and computer safety. I hope you’ll use the information contained in this report to make wise decisions when using your email. A few last points: 1. 2. 3. 4.

5.

This is an age of scams and identity theft. If you haven’t checked into Identity theft protection or credit monitoring, it’s definitely worth it. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t be afraid to delete a message if you believe it’s suspicious. Whatever you do, please don’t send people money if they email you. Avoid replying to scam emails, even if you’re just sending something to give them a piece of your mind. You’ll be wasting your time and may end up getting more spam than you ever dreamed. Don’t forget, if you’ve got any questions, please my website, and use the contact link to get in touch with me.

www.wiseturns.com

March 2010


7 Keys to Email Safety