Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Phishing scams and malware attacks go up during Covid

 

 With the onset of Covid-19, and all the restrictions brought upon us and the retail industry, a lot of people are turning to online shopping and banking, etc.  With all this influx of activity, comes a new trove of information available to hackers and scammers. Now, not every individual gets hacked, what these people target, are the shops and information servers.  The places where your information is stored, your credit card info, bank info, all that fun stuff that is easy to sell on the dark web.

A lot of this info is obtained via phishing. This can include fake emails, texts, and even phone calls. Emails are the most common phishing technique, as fake websites, emails, etc are quite simple to set up. Below is an example of a phishing email, that a lot of people get, because most of us have a lot of passwords and they use this technique believing the majority of us will fall for it. (as most people don't keep track of a ton of passwords)

 
The picture below, is a fake site that you would most likely see, upon clicking one of those phishing emails.  If you don't pay close attention to details, anyone can fall for these. Always check spelling and where those email link too! Some of the time as well, as soon as you arrive at these sites, there is a possibility of malware already being installed.
 

 A good preventative is to run a weekly (if not daily) virus/malware scan on your system to help prevent these issues. That and simple preventative habits can help with it all.  If you don't recognize an email address - Don't open it! , if you don't recognize a website - close it! and Do NOT click on any links on the site! If you get any pop-ups for a download, etc, DO NOT accept it!

Phishing techniques go much further into detail, that novice users don't anticipate. For instance; once a hacker has obtained someones email address or other credentials, they can simply look through you facebook profile to obtain your address, pet's name, family names, etc that a lot of people use as passwords. They then simply run some software programs that target a number of common websites, like ebay, amazon, etc. that spam these names, address', birth-dates until a hit is found. Then they will usually change your password so that they retain access. Then they will move on to other websites and try those same credentials, which if you re-use passwords, they will hit again, and again, and again.

This is where password managers come in extremely handy! There are many out there that are very good, either free or paid options, depending on your needs.  Here is a great list by PCmag listing the top 10 password managers - Top 10 password managers.
 
Here is a link to another great article regarding scams during Covid from the HackerNews.  An excellent site to get more in depth on scamming and hacking related information.

Stay safe!

Sevenowl.




Monday, December 14, 2020

Layers of the Web

*Information purposes only*

 

 

Most people don’t realize the size of the internet (Web). A lot of people are happy with just the surface web, where everything is indexed by google, yahoo, bing, etc. What you may not know is that this part of the web makes up only about 5-10% of the internet. The other 90+% is made up of the Deep web and the Dark web.

The surface web is the safest place for the casual user and gamers etc. Think of it as an iceberg, the top part you see, is the surface web. With all the largest parts underneath where you can’t see them.

Here is a link to explain the surface web in a bit more detail. Surface Web.

 Next we have the Deep Web. (Click for more detailed description) This part of the web is not indexed by Google or any other search engines and requires specific software to access the sites. For example Tor browser (The Onion Router), is used to access these websites, if you know the addresses or know where to go.

 

This is where you will find tons of information for sale. For example, hacked accounts of all types, games, facebook, emails, porn sites, bank accounts, etc. All for a price. The currency of choice on the dark web of course is Bitcoin (and other crypto-currencies). Bitcoin is a digital currency that is almost completely untraceable. Be careful what you look for and access here, without proper security, and vpn’s etc. You may just fall victim yourself.

And lastly, we have the Dark Web. This is a place you don’t want to be.

 

 

The dark web is a nasty place, where you will find anything you could imagine, all illegal of course. This is where drug deals, gun deals, human trafficing, hitmen, ISIS redrooms, etc are all found. This part of the web is not accessable by regular web browsers at all. You need specific software and other measures to access this. I do not recommend you visit this part of the web. If you attempt to, you do so at your own risk! I do not condon any use of the dark web. This article is for information purposes only!

Hopefully this has explained a bit more about the internet and the hidden parts of it for you. Remeber you access these parts of the web at your own risk! Don’t forget your ISP knows everywhere you go on the internet.

Stay safe.

Sevenowl.

 

Ever wonder what those abbreviations mean?

 

Everyone out there has wondered what do these letters mean? What does HTTP mean? IP, PDF,VGA,etc…. there are so many out there! Well here is a list, with searchable links on all those abbreviations that are bewildering us all!

I’ve provided it on a separate page via downloadable PDF. Hopefully it helps you out in understanding what all those weird letters mean! 

 Computer & Internet related abbreviations and what they mean.

Upcoming holiday season ripe for scams!

 

Once again, that time of year is here. Gift giving season. With all the new restrictions, etc due to the COVID 19 pandemic, a lot of people have turned to online ordering.

Wether it is from Amazon, EBay, Etsy, or your local shops. These are all susceptible to scams of one form or another.

I’ve heard of quite a few people ordering items from the ads that appear on everyone’s Facebook page. These types of ads are basically a gamble, so don’t expect to see a high quality, awesome item, for a cheap price and even a “compare this” proclamation. Then you order it, and end up receiving a cheap plastic knock off of the picture. I’m sure this has happened to everyone at one time or another. A lot of these types of ads are “dropshipping” ads.

Dropshipping is quite popular, but lots of places are beginning to shun the idea. It is basically a man in the middle webstore. Whereas a person sets up a store website, then chooses a number of products from different manufacturers (90% of the time) are from China or elsewhere overseas. How it works, you go to said persons website, pick a product, purchase it (with payment) all through this persons site. They in turn make the exact order from the manufacturer with your shipping address and their part of the payment, and voila middle man makes a small profit, just for copy and paste.

Eventually your item arrives, and depending on who that person used as a distributor is how the quality etc of the product you receive is determined. Some have a great experience and get great items, others never see an item at all and those web stores disappear overnight. So once again, a little research goes a long way.

Here is a wiki-link that explains drop-shipping in more detail. Drop-shipping!

Even EBay, Amazon, and quite a few big box stores use drop-shipping to some extent. But it is with the popularity of the “get rich quick” side of things that have people smoke-screened into thinking it’s all legit.

It doesn’t take much time to research any seller, be it on EBay, Amazon, or a Facebook ad to find the info you are looking for. If you email the place directly and don’t receive a response, be wary! Also be wary of those sites that ask for “extra” shipping costs for faster delivery, not all of these are true!

Government Of Canada has some good links and tips as well regarding this topic and is an excellent place to report any suspected scams. Check it out here: Online shopping scams.

Another good way to stay safe while shopping online is by using pre-paid Visa/Mastercard cards, or one time use cards. These can be found just about anywhere, some banks even offer Visa/Mastercard online cards for those reasons only.

There are many ways to stay safe when shopping online, take a moment to read up on them! And stay safe this holiday season!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Scams that prey on the elderly

 

 

    The way things work today, there are 1000's of different types of scams out there, that prey on just about all of us.  Today I just want to focus on the scams that prey on elderly people. With the holiday season quickly approaching, scammers are also ramping up their efforts to get your money as well!

I'm sure we've all come across some type of scam over the last few years, maybe some fell for it, maybe you didn't.  What I have to say is, you REALLY have to be careful what's out there. There are emails from your "bank" that look extremely legit, but are NOT. Especially the ones asking or saying you need to click the enclosed 'link' to reset your password or input your bank information once again. Best way is to not even open the email themselves, and call your bank to see if they sent it.  Although if you do open it, and see a "click here to reset password" link or the like, one way is to just hover your mouse over the link, and in the bottom left hand corner of your browser, it should show you where the link will take you.  If it is something you don't recognize what-so-ever, DO NOT CLICK it! Most of the time, you are taken to a fake webpage, that will look like the real thing, but it's not. Once you input your info in there and click send or submit - you have just handed over your login info.  The webpage could also be loading Malware or Ransomware onto your system as you visit the page. (feel free to follow the link on Malware and Ransomware, they take you to Wikipedia - which will explain the versions out there).

ALL my links are tested for virus, malware, adware, etc. So everything here is safe.

Here is an excellent website, with the top 10 scams that tend to prey on elderly people. 

Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors.

This is an excellent read, well worth the time!

Another one, that a lot of people fall for, is the "unknown caller" stating to be from "Microsoft" or "ABC" tech company, telling you they have detected a virus or Trojan or malware on your computer, and for a small fee, they can help you fix it.  

The first red flag here should be, "how do they know you have a virus on your computer"?

Second red flag, is when they ask you to go to a website and click on something to allow them remote access to "fix" your computer.

Third red flag, is if and when they tend to get very pushy or even angry if you don't comply.

Random IT companies, or Microsoft, will NEVER randomly call you.  ONLY trust this IF you have a third party IT professional set up to look after your data etc. Even then, THEY will never ask for your password or banking info!

 Another popular one is the "Netflix information update" scam.  A lot of people get text messages or emails, (that once again, look extremely legit) saying that if you don't click this link to update your info within the next 24 hours, your account will be closed.  Again, Netflix will NEVER do this! It's just another attempt to get personal information from you.

Remember the old adage, If it sounds (or looks) to good to be true, It probably is.


 

The vast majority of people still say to themselves "I'll keep it simple, no one will take my stuff"  Well most of the time, you don't even know. Once it's out there, it's out there forever, there is no getting it back, and a lot of times, by the time you realize your missing something, its too late.

Here is another excellent site with great information on more of the most common scams.

17 common online scams. 

Top 5 Social media scams. 

There are tons of good websites and blogs out there to help you tell whats right and whats not. If you are ever in doubt, and think someone is trying to scam you, Contact your local police, and don't give out any information if you are uncomfortable doing so!


Stay Safe.

Sevenowl.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dark Patterns

Dark Patterns.  Not just something grandma used to knit mittens with every year.  These Dark Patterns are tricks used by websites and apps that make you do things that you didn't mean to, like buying or signing up for something. I'm sure we've all been there. These can be quite sneaky as well!

There are many different types of Dark Patterns, here is an excellent site to visit and read up on the different types  Dark Patterns.

 Dark Patterns usually are not harmful, but can be more of a nuisance than anything else. Best way to prevent this, is to actually read those pop-ups, or click here buttons before you end up on mailing lists or buy a new freezer by accident. Web designers, and shady businesses, etc are always finding new ways to get your information, email, address, birthdate, etc. It's becoming more and more common that people just click the "I agree" or "allow" buttons without reading what you are actually allowing or agreeing too.

Check out that website, it's a good read, and has a ton of info on this topic.  




Stay safe.

Sevenowl



Thursday, August 6, 2020

Covid-19 and the digital world *Updated 10/11/2020*


With Covid-19 looking like it's not going away anytime soon, neither are the scams that accompany them.
Here is an excellent link about the current scams from the Government of Canada Anti-fraud center.

 
If you ever think you've been a victim of Fraud, please go to the Government of Canada Fraud reporting site and report it! Canada Anti-Fraud Center.
Don't forget to call your local police and report it as well!


Well, with the enormous outbreak of covid-19, there are a lot of people staying home, working from home, and even starting their own small business'.  So what about security? 

Well, most larger companies that are allowing employees to work from home, are mostly using secure VPN's, which allow access to an individual to the corporate network.  These types are quite secure, as they are constantly being monitored.

Those without the luxury of having a VPN network, should if possible set up a firewall on their home network, if they are doing a lot of work with sensitive data. 

There are many, many options out there for simple security in this new day and age.  Be sure to check out Google for many suggestions. Or leave a comment here and I will offer some advice on what you should and should not need!

Until soon....

Sevenowl

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