A few years ago, the main concern from heavy computer users was viruses. Then came worms, Trojans, Malware, Adware, Spyware and a host of Cyber invaders.
Unfortunately, the latest culprit is a trusted friend or family who is untrained in sending out multiple emails. A simple as that sounds, the practice of sending emails to more than one person feeds millions of email clones and is the lifeblood of billions of spam emails sent out daily.
It is amazing how many people do not know how to send out multiple emails properly. More amazing is the fact that the billions of people do not know that by passing on a joke or so-called virus threat warning to many friends might be the very hook hackers use to enable Internet fraud or spam email.
Email addresses are personal data to be handled more securely than a person’s telephone number. Today, most people shop online, book vacations, write letters, handle business transactions and source news stories over the Internet. Millions of bits of personal, financial and confidential data travel back and forth daily.
Therefore the proper securing of that data is of primary importance to millions of people. Never enclose a friend’s email address in the body of an email, including some virus warning or joke you want to pass on to a list of people.
To send a message to multiple email addresses, use the BCC area rather than including the list in the regular address box. That way, the recipient will only see his or her name, and not all the others that the message was sent to.
All Internet providers have thousands of employers trying to preempt the latest cyber attacks 24/7. It is impossible for John or Mary Public to discover any virus threat before them. For someone to hear about some new threat and then ask you to inform your friends is the work or either a very idle mind, a less than educated person, or a highly presumptuous person—or someone with some other agenda than just being a nice person.
Hundreds of computer-savvy people are out of work and know that with the right type of personal data they can make millions. They can take the data they collect from your email lists to access other information.
Think of a person who acquires 100,000 credit card numbers. If that person uses that lists to charge small and variable amounts that aren’t easily detected, they could amass a considerable fortune.
Thousands of spam email companies sell email lists. People can then send out an imaginary warning email to someone whose name is on the list with magnetic strips hidden and with a note saying send to 8 to 10 people including the person who sent that email. Very soon that person and his/her friends has a large inventory of emails and computer IP addresses.
A clever cloner can then access any one of those email accounts and read the emails at will until he/she finds something as important as a credit card number or a bank account name, address and number. Since many email addresses have the name of the person in front, by search the incoming emails a cyber thief can get a name, email address and phone number.
They then supply missing pieces that can lead to a credit card number, and merrily go off to shop or get money—all because some friend was gullible or indiscreet.
If users exercise sufficient caution in sending out questionable emails to long lists of their friends and families, they help in the effort to slow down the proliferation of computer crimes. More importantly, they protect themselves and their associates from potentially damaging activities such as identity theft and hacking.