I’m talking specifically about an email I recently received. The subject line read, “Am Banking Issues, Needing Urgently Response Please.” Verbatim, that’s what it said. Now this isn’t anything new, it’s just the least literate one of these I’ve ever received. Some cyber criminals I have to give begrudging respect to for inventiveness, or even acknowledge that their scam may be dangerously effective. But seriously, “Needing urgently response?” Not even Google translate mangles a translation that badly. I mean it didn’t help that it was from an unknown sender who supposedly worked at a bank I have no account with, but come on scammers. A little effort please.
Not that I want them to get any better at what they do, but I do have standards. I’ve been receiving daytime phone calls beginning “This is an important message about your ___ credit card account,” even though the ____ they mention is not the kind of credit card I carry. I’d just be ignoring them, but I sleep during the day. So I’m reporting them to the BBB and the State AG’s consumer protection division. Not because I think it will be effective (the wheels turn slowly) but just because a: I hate the scammers, and b: it might someday help someone not get scammed.
Although the biggest cybercrime in the news recently seems to be the NSA spying on us. Some people have asked me (because I’m “computer or internet guy”) what I think about this scandal. My answer seems to shock most folks.
Yeah, please. Anytime a new communication medium is invented the first thing anyone does is figure out how to spy with it. Anyone who thought their email was ever secure from prying eyes was wrong and endearingly naive. Anyone who thinks anything you post on social media sites like facebook or twitter is safe and only going where you want it to… well that’s just downright laughable. My “rule of thumb” is simple. If you put it on the internet… make sure it’s something that you wouldn’t mind everyone on the internet finding out.
Now yes, I do some shopping online, and do e-file my taxes. But I take extreme caution when I do so. The payment system I use is highly rated as a “trusted” site by many consumer advocacy groups and computer security firms. And it only accesses an account I maintain specifically for online shopping, and it’s pre-pay and will not spend any money I don’t clear by transferring it into the account for the purchase I’m going to make (consult your tax or banking professional for more specific advice.) Taxes I do behind a massive firewall using very reliable computer security. And I never save any information to the cloud. “Would you like to save the information to make the next transaction easier?” No, I would not. As an act of supreme security paranoia, I don’t even save passwords on MY OWN computer. If I get hacked (my security makes it unlikely, but it can happen to anyone) my passwords aren’t saved anywhere on my computer. That won’t protect against a keylogger, but my security will pick up on a keylogger before I have a chance to enter any passwords.
And those aren’t even the only precautions I take. Some of the precautions I take to separate myself from my online “identity” actually VIOLATE the TOS (terms of service) of the web services I’m using. So I won’t mention those, I don’t want my accounts closed. Hypothetical examples of such violations would include registering for an internet service using a fake name or phony address.
And all of that’s why NSA spying doesn’t bother me. Because I had always assumed they WERE already spying. Or rather I guess it does “bother” me, but fails to “surprise” or “affect” me in any way. I don’t blame the government, (current or prior regimes) but rather I see the misuse of technology as an unfortunate side-effect of the development of that technology in the first place. The question I have to answer is “Do I like the internet?” It it’s existence as a whole worth the fact that it can be used to spy on me? To me it’s worth it. I don’t do anything illegal, online or otherwise so I don’t really have a dog in the hunt either. Then again if I were doing anything illegal, I certainly would be lying about it here on this blog. BECAUSE ONLINE ADMISSIONS OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY WOULD BE A BAD IDEA, PEOPLE MIGHT BE LISTENING.
So to any NSA guys that might be reading this or anything else from me (emails, forum replies, etc.) I apologize for wasting your time. I realize that what you can find out about me online is pretty boring. Just a suggestion… stand up, stretch a little bit, maybe go get a coffee. Now back to work, those cybercriminals and terrorists aren’t going to catch themselves. You know, unless they brag about their activities on twitter.