May 2023 Spam and Hackers

There are two rather specific things that have kept me busy of late, so I thought it was time to write two simple rules down that you might want to bear in mind. They could save you a lot of hassle.

Simple Rules

Don’t click on links in emails!
Real businesses do NOT call you to sort out your PC problems!

The rules are simple enough but the explanation is a little longer, but then that’s probably why you’ll know that this is from me! 🙄 If you are happy to accept these 2 rules then you needn’t read on.

The first rule is simple enough – If in any doubt – don’t click links in emails. It’s an easy way to infect your PC. You may think “It’s OK! It’s from someone I know!”, but unless you are absolutely sure – don’t click links.
Bear in mind that just because an email says it’s from someone you know, it does not mean that it is. I frequently get emails from people who are not who they claim to be, some of them are friends that passed away years ago! If one person in your circle of contacts gets hacked, their address book can be used to send emails to and from those contacts. And if those emails are short and just say something like “You’ll like this!” and give you a link then you might have a momentary lapse of concentrations and click it – the good news is that for accidental clicks, Windows will usually ask for permission to do whatever the link tries to do – but not always – Sadly, once people have clicked the link, they usually click the popup asking for confirmation. My advice is don’t click either, unless, you are absolutely positive.
Also, you should never reply to an email you are unsure of – it just confirms to them that your email address is current – and there are no prizes for guessing the answer a hacker might give to the question “Is that really you?”. Don’t take any ‘unsubscribe’ option either – that’s a link too! – and it probably goes to the same place as any other link.
Often you will just see the senders proper name and not the email address – and this is partly why the people behind these things are successful. It’s sad but true that lots of email addresses get compromised, and it’s more often than not, not the individual’s fault, it may have been someone they may have had contact with in the distant past and you just happened to be in their address book.
If you want to check a suspicious email from someone you ‘know’ then write them an email from scratch getting the email address out of your contacts – or call/WhatsApp/Telegram etc.

And so, to the second rule. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Banks & Building Societies, Amazon … in fact, there are really NO companies that will call you out of the blue to tell you that you have a problem, and that they are going to solve it by taking over your computer. They simply have too many customers to be interested in doing that sort of thing.
So, let’s consider a very believable hypothetical call. They have you typing stuff to check things at your computer and it seems innocuous, but suddenly you realise that the mouse is moving all on its own. Unless you totally trust them and are expecting this, then this is always bad, and the quickest way to stop them is to either turn off your router – just pull the plug out, or shut down your computer and in this case, I would suggest it’s worth the risk of pulling the plug out if it’s a tower or pressing and holding the power button if it’s a laptop. You might want to make a note of the calling number and report it to the police by calling 101. It’s unlikely to stop unless lots of people do this.

Don’t forget to do your backups. If you aren’t doing regular backups, then think for a moment and ask yourself what you would lose if your computer died. If in doubt ask.

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