Cyber Crooks and You

A plastic foam superhero action figure saved me yesterday. She flew into my mailbox, along with a pamphlet extorting, “Be a Cyber Hero.” And, I am (cue Superman theme song).

I got an email yesterday purportedly from a newspaper reporter. In the subject line, it said “View Document,” and there was a graphic of the document to click upon. The email even had the reporter’s correct email address, signature line and phone number. I did not click it – because it’s Cyber Security Awareness Month – and a foam action figure warned of danger ahead.

Most everyone knows about the online fraud scams loaded with bad spelling and awkward phrasing from a foreign “exiled prince” or otherwise “rich” benefactor, who somehow selected you to receive his “fortune.” Yeah, we’re not falling for that. But how about the email that looks like it came from a friend?

These often come without anything in the subject line, or with a single word, like “Hi!” And, there is a link for you to click. Once you do that, malware infects your computer and does all sorts of damage. If the email looks suspicious, here’s an old-fashioned tip: Pick up the phone and call the sender. I did that and learned the reporter received the email with the attachment, clicked it and the malware immediately forwarded that malicious software code to ALL his contacts. Kind of embarrassing for him, but maybe he’ll write a good firsthand article about it!

There is identity theft insurance. Some insurers offer it as part of a standard homeowners or renters policy; others provide the protection through a separate policy. Since cyber theft is a growing threat, this coverage is worth considering, as is remaining diligent toward suspicious emails.

Parents warn, “Don’t ever open the door to strangers!” That’s pretty good advice for opening emails, too. courtesy of

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