In this blog, let’s look more closely at internet and e-mail scams and security.
Knowledge is power – and never truer than when surfing the net. The most common risks are viruses, key-stroke recordings, miscellaneous malware and Trojan horses.
Viruses do the same thing to your computer as they do to us – they make it sick; they can even kill it. Key-stroke recording software is installed by hackers and allows them to record all of your keystrokes with particular attention to usernames and passwords – they love banking, credit card and email access the most. Malware is also malicious as it can take many forms: from tracking your internet use patterns to copying files to a remote computer to erasing key pieces of software. Trojan horses get uploaded and then sit in wait – silently for a triggering date or event and then allow the hackers to take control of your computer and use it for attacking other computers.
A very good question and here are some tips including information from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- If it sounds too good to be true – guess what?!
You’ve won a big prize in a contest that you don’t recall entering. You are offered a once-in-a-lifetime investment that offers a huge return. You are told that you can buy into a lottery ticket pool that cannot lose. Oh really?
- You must pay or you can’t play.
“You’re a winner!” BUT, you must agree to send money to the caller in order to pay for delivery, processing, taxes, duties or some other fee in order to receive your prize. Sometimes the caller will even send a courier to pick up your money. No legitimate lotteries use this process!
- You must give them your private financial information – I think not!
The caller asks for all your confidential banking and/or credit card information. Honest businesses do not require these details. If you are placing an over-the-phone order, be extremely careful when providing credit card information – get the name of the person and an order number and record it to compare with your monthly statement.
- Will that be cash… or cash?
Often criminal telemarketers ask you to send cash or a money order, rather than a cheque or credit card. The reason is simple – cash is untraceable and can’t be cancelled. Crooks (obviously) have difficulty in establishing themselves as merchants with legitimate credit card companies.
- The caller is more excited than are you – oh joy, oh rapture!
The crooks want to get you very excited about this “opportunity” so you won’t think clearly. Lottery, “free” vacation, stock tip – the gimmick doesn’t matter. Act in haste, repent at leisure!
- The manager is calling – don’t we wish.
The person claims to be a government official, tax officer, banking official, lawyer or some other person in authority. The person calls you by your first name and asks you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions (such as “how often do your grown children visit you”). They are trying to get enough information to steal your identity or have another crook try to scam you as a parent/grandparent.
- The stranger calling wants to become your best friend – so you need more?
Criminals love finding out if you’re lonely and willing to talk. Once they know that, they’ll try to convince you that they are your friend – after all, we don’t normally suspect our friends of being crooks. Hang up and ignore them – HONEST people don’t try to become best friends over the phone or internet or in chat rooms or dating sites.
- It’s a limited opportunity and you’re going to miss out – good, miss out.
If you are pressured to make a big purchase decision immediately, it’s probably not legitimate. Real businesses or charities will give you a chance to check them out or think about it.
Unfortunately, identity theft and fraud are among the fastest growing crimes in the world. In 2012, more than 120,000 calls were received and more than 40,000 e-mail messages each month were reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre! In 2011, credit card fraud alone exceeded $436 million! By contrast, in 2007, TOTAL fraud losses were $14 million. There are many more unreported incidents.
Phishing – An e-mail message that appears to have been sent by a financial institution with which you have business dealings asking for verification of various pieces of information. When you follow the hotlink and answer the questions, the thieves get enough information about you and your accounts to steal your money and perhaps your identity. The financial institutions you deal with do not need to “verify” the information they already have on you. Immediately delete all such emails. Report it immediately to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone to 1.888.495.8501 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (CAFC) and your local law enforcement department.
Andrea told her husband Jack that she had noticed a young person going through their condo paper-recycling bins. At first, she thought they were just looking for recyclables which could be turned into cash, but later realized the person was rummaging through all of the containers that were paper-products only.
These bins often contain bank statements, cancelled cheques, private letters, other important documents, credit card statements and envelopes. If the information is from a business office, old client files and related data can often be found. There have been stories in the news about scavengers going through people’s waste and recyclables specifically looking for these items. The information that can be obtained is very valuable to information thieves and can be potentially damaging to you.
I’ve seen my fair share of science fiction movies which attempt to predict the future of virtual or augmented reality. Many showcase technology, imagined by writers and directors, that immerses the user within a virtual world – aptly described as Virtual Reality or VR for short. The problem for me personally is that this technology essentially replicates what you currently see on screen but in 360 degree perspective; there isn’t a real sense of self within that experience. Well today Microsoft announced a game-changer which they call Microsoft HoloLens.
What is HoloLens? Put simply it’s a computer built within a headset that projects holograms into your first person field of vision, essentially adding artificial objects into your reality. Picture looking at a car and trying to figure out instructions to change a tire. Now imagine each step projected on to your car showing you exactly how to do that? Now imagine sitting on your couch and tapping the air to enlarge a huge holographic TV to watch a game or movie? The applications of this are also huge for 3D modeling for 3D printing, which was demonstrated today by creating a quad copter using the software included with HoloLens.
The applications of this technology are mind boggling to say the least and will change what we view as being a computer, how we navigate through our day to day activities, and even what we perceive as being real or imagined. This is just the beginning.
Want to see more? Much has already been written following today’s announcement and rather than attempt to re-write that I’ve included the links to many of those articles below. I’d recommend first checking out the official HoloLens site at www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us
Well, let’s start with what I thought was the sexiest tech item at the show I have seen so far: the new Sony XBR series with a screen so thin, it looks like it is floating 0n air. Yes, the on screen image is beautiful. Yes, the bezel is an example of minimalist design. Sony has done such a fine job over the years on producing great TV’s, such features are no longer surprising. However, when you check out how incredibly thin this TV is, you’d be amazed.
It’s art. It’s engineering. It’s both.
Arriving at Las Vegas.
Between Comdex and Consumer Electronics Show, this is my 31st year of electronics or computer trade shows in Vegas. If the first day is any indication, it could be a banner vintage.
OK, there is the usual share of weird stuff that leaves you scratching your head, so let’s get that out of the way. Sketchers is going to launch their kids shoe line that features a version of the “Simon Says” game on the shoe itself. Why? I have no idea. But just in case there are some kids out there that still lack stimulation and distraction, they can now play with their shoes.