Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Of emails of malicious intent.

For most of us, this is nothing new, and we're smart enough to know better. But it bears repeating as it cycles around again.

Over the past couple weeks, I've received several "UPS Notification" emails that are really viruses (virii?). If you use G-Mail, you're probably safe, because Google won't even let me see the email - it just tells me it exists. I should probably note that I have my own domain through which most of my online doings are funneled; I use that to better track where my emails are coming from. I can easily block emails sent to specific addresses should spam become a problem.

I noticed that for the first couple weeks, all the emails were coming to the address I use for PayPal, so I simply changed that and blocked the old PayPal address. I've seen some new uses, though - this weekend I've received two to my eBay email address and one to my email address. The one confuses me.

But the arrival of emails to my PayPal and eBay addresses indicates that there are some in the card community who have become infected with the virus. Of course, that's not surprising, given the fact that eBay sellers are constantly shipping things.

Again, this may be worthless information to you, but it's always good to be reminded - never open attachments from people you don't know. Email attachments from corporations should be considered suspect, especially if you're not expecting them.

Last, if you don't have anti-virus software installed on your computer, what are you waiting for? You can find high-rated reviews on multiple sites from thousands of users (sites like CNET provide hardware and software reviews). I use a free product called AVG and I've been safe for fifteen years now. Note that I do not like Norton/Symantec because it costs a fortune and when I had a free trial it caused slowdowns in my computer, is irritating when your subscription runs out, and is difficult to remove. (AVG is rated higher than Norton on CNET.) Antivirus doesn't protect you from the newest threats, but it will protect against something making the rounds again. I thought the scam emails (some Nigerian man wants to give me $10,000 to help him out!) had become history, but I've received a lot of them in the past few months. Not to mention sexual aid spam....

Really, a quality, broad-range preparedness scheme is important. Your job is being aware of what links you're clicking on, what programs you run and install and attachments you open, and especially toolbars and ActiveX-style components you install. The computer should have antivirus, pop-up blockers, and system and browser level security activated. Windows comes with its own internal protection that helps a bit, and Google Chrome won't open websites it determines are suspect without warning you, and it won't let you open software without downloading it first (I suppose that gives anti-virus software a better crack at it).

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