The Osamas of Internet

The killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden might or might not result in revenge attacks, but a worldwide attack seems to have taken place. Yes, you have already become a victim of cyber attack if you were sent, shown, made to click any image or video appearing to be that of the dead al Qaeda chief.

Amidst a clueless world totally devoid of any image or video of the final moments of the world’s most wanted man — Osama bin Laden, spammers flooded the internet with fake still and motion pictures. Did you notice it?

Alarmed by the such viral trend, I had written early Tuesday… warning that some cartoons, images, videos were flashing on the internet. Sad… many chose to ignore the caution. Hey, you did it at your cost.

Result: Your internet account was compromised. And if you are on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, the accounts of your friends and connections are also no longer safe. Mind you, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to stay secure on the net. At least this latest episode should smart you.

Remember: The moment you notice any suspicious activity on your friend’s wall or on your wall via your friend or a seductive chat liner, please alert your friend immediately… yes, at once. This is in your interest only as, under such circumstances, your account too becomes vulnerable and falls easy prey to the Osamas of Internet.

Advisory: In case you are seriously concerned, you must go through a brief prepared by me. It is being published below in your interest. Remember to share it with all your contacts to help make internet free of Osamas. Do your bit. Don’t fall in a trap.

When you are online: Stay alert, cautious, smart and secure and away from a wild world. Don’t blindly click links that you see online — on email, searches or networking sites. You must also raise eyebrows when you get directed to an altogether unexpected site that you didn’t intend to visit.

The Brief: Securing Email Account: No I don’t sell viagra

In my email account, I recently noted unusual activities. Mails were being ‘sent’ by ‘me’ to ‘me’ (and also to my contacts). Therefore. I took it up with my mail service operator.

Their response … ufff … was  surprising. They said this is normal these days. According to them, my email account (or your mail account in like manner) is not compromised under such circumstances. Neither the account is (actually)  hacked.

As per my email client, the frauds have become smarter. They have now devised ways to ‘forge messages’ which look like having been sent from genuine senders. The modus operandi is such that they forge your e-mail address as the “From” field on the unsolicited e-mail. This doesn’t require the person to log in to the account.

Sometimes, individuals forge message headers to suggest that the e-mail originated from your mail account. Then, the spammers also send unsolicited e-mails using bulk e-mail programs that forge headers in the e-mail message. Some of these programs combine the sender’s account name or e-mail address with another domain name to try and make it appear more authentic.

The above methods clearly bypass your mail filters because the message appears to originate from the recipient’s own account. This is becoming very difficult practice to guard against. How secure is net, you can well guess.

Many of my friends have also discussed with me some surprising mails that they keep getting, other than the now infamous ones … that you have won some lottery or jackpot worth millions … or promotion of viagra etc. Such mails are undoubtedly from frauds, though with suggestive and tempting subject lines. Some examples are: “This is pretty interesting”, “This is amazing”, “You will certainly like this”.

I expect you not to open such mails, and as far as possible to report such mails to your service providers or to the police if it requires their intervention. Three years back when my mail account was indeed compromised, the hacker mailed my contacts soliciting money on my behalf, telling them that I was stuck in London and needed money urgently.

On Facebook walls also, I find many of you trying to see ‘who visited your profile’ etc. Please do not visit such links as they are seductively created to fool you. Similarly, you must be receiving direct messages from Twitter which prima facie look suspicious. And have you forgotten the twitter messages that promised top journalists a quick boost in their followers and many indeed fooled themselves dreaming to become twitter avatars.

Also, never give your (any) account details in response to any mail, how genuine it may appear. Remember, no (no) service provider … in any situation … asks for such details. Mails seeking private information are absolutely bogus and must be dealt with properly.

Sometimes, and quite shockingly, a user falls victim to some type of phishing scheme – when either they reply to an email that threatens to close their account if they don’t provide their password, or they go to a website that looks like their mail sign-in page and provide their password.

According to senior journalist Anil Maheshwari, “hacking is not a new development. It has been prevalent since the World Wide Web (www) became popular. Hackers are now reinventing themselves to gain access to confidential information.”

Hope you will take adequate care. And do not forget to regularly change your password, which is still a good practice.

3 comments

  1. Reblogged this on g caffè and commented:
    A warning we all must pay heed to… a caution we all need to take. Read carefully and follow for your own good and do spread the word around. I wish you happiness always.

    Like

  2. Neeraj, nice article. Very informative specially your last sentence to keep changing the password from time to time is a very important advice. Some of them I was aware of but a reminder re-activates one specially in such critical moments in history. I am sure that Osama’s demise will provoke a lot of cyber crimes.

    Just one curiosity to ask you, “Changing your password frequently will not affect your mailings”?

    God bless

    Like

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