Something Smells Phishy!

Lord Jeffery once said, “A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.” Today, this statement rings true to web users everywhere, as “phishers” impersonate a vast number of reputable businesses, including PayPal, eBay, Inc., Bank of America Corporation, and Citibank. According to Phishtank.com, an organization committed to eliminating phishers, around 77,709 phishes were sent out in April 2007. With one click of a button, an unsuspecting user can give away their precious information to criminals! It is important to try to protect yourself from getting hooked by their extremely enticing and advanced baiting techniques.

Phishing is the illicit act of luring internet users to give up their valuable personal and account information. The first phishers started out stealing AOL users’ passwords in the 1990s by sending out instant messages to unsuspecting victims. When they got passwords, the phishers gained access to all their victims’ account information. Phishers now use a variety of techniques, including fraudulent emails, pop-ups, links, websites, and phone calls.

The damage caused by phishers ranges from cluttered email inboxes to financial failure. Estimates suggest that between May 2004 and May 2005 computer users lost approximately $929 million USD. For businesses the picture is even worse, as US businesses lose $2 billion USD a year because their clients fall prey to phishers.

To combat phishers, companies are coming up with creative solutions. Some companies use user specific details when corresponding with clients. For example, the Bank of America Corporation sends the client’s image on any emails or messages. The goal of such incentives is to help users differentiate between legitimate correspondences and false ones. With the launch of Firefox 2.0, an open-source browser, Firefox included Google, Inc.’s anti-phish software. This software alerts users when they are on a phisher’s site (see photo). As the presence of phishers climbs, more and more companies are having to take action against them.

As for now, here are some tips you may find useful to fight phishermen:

• Do not click on the links of any unexpected e-mails alerting you that you need to confirm your billing information.
• Look for multiple misspellings.
• Look for the “lock” icon, which indicates a secure site, on the browser’s status bar.
• If you’re unsure about something, contact the company in question.

If you do smell something phishy, you can visit antiphishing.org or phishtank.com to report it.

Keep Your Personal Mail Personal

It’s exciting to wake up to an email inbox with ten new messages. As often as this may happen, chances are that most, if not all, will be spam. Statistically, 8 of 10 emails received are spam. This has caused users to create disposable, or temporary, email addresses.

There are about ten frequently used websites where you can create a disposable email address. These temporary email addresses forward mail into your inbox, and are typically used for online purchases, blogs, wikis, and other non-personal contacts. Once spam starts to fill your inbox, you can cancel the address and start a new one.

One of the more prominent sites for disposable email addresses explains their purpose:

Most websites require you to register by providing them your email address before you can access their services. Usually this is not a problem, but some sites will sell your personal information, including your email address to other companies for commercial solicitation. This is when you start receiving SPAM.

With shoeboxed, you can use your personal email address for everything, and rest assured that spam will not be delivered to your inbox. Forget managing multiple email accounts, we will keep your personal mail personal.

After our launch, when you wake up to ten messages in your inbox, you will feel love, not hate. Click here to register with shoeboxed.com.

Quick Tips to Help You Prevent Spam

Never open suspicious email. It seems like a no brainer, but people do it all the time. If you don’t know who the email is from, you shouldn’t even bother looking at it—no matter how enticing the subject may look. If you’re not careful, you can end up with a virus that destroys your computer. These viruses can multiply and be sent to everyone in your address book, potentially infecting your friends’ computers as well.

Be careful forwarding mass emails and chain letters. I know it’s fun to forward funny emails to your family and friends. But people often forget that their personal email address is published at the top of the forwarded email and will most likely end up in many inboxes across the world. And once you send that message, the fate of your address is out of your hands. Eventually after making its way through email lists, online forums, and news groups, your address will end up in the hands of a spammer. They’ll know that your email address is valid, and you will be spammed right away!

Don’t unsubscribe. It’s a trap. Sometimes there is an unsubscribe message on the bottom of spam. If you didn’t know any better, you would want to click on the link and unsubscribe from the emails. After all, you’re sick of them clogging your inbox, right? Clicking on a link in a spam message tells the spammer that your email address is valid, and you will likely receive more spam in the future. Shoeboxed.com’s innovative service will block your spam and allow you to reliably one-click unsubscribe from all spam mail.

Don’t post your email address online. It’s just a bad idea. Spam software is designed to crawl websites, forums, and other online groups looking for email addresses. If it is absolutely necessary that you provide your email address, don’t write joe@gmail.com, write joe(at)gmail(dot)com.

Don’t give out your personal email address unless you know how it will be used. This seems intuitive, but it’s becoming harder and harder these days to predict how much junk mail any given company will send you. As I mentioned in an earlier article, even in-store purchases will soon come with digital email receipts. Shoeboxed.com will make sure that you never have to think about this ever again—your inbox should be for personal emails only!

If you’re worried about protecting you and your computer from spam, shoeboxed can help. Click here to be notified when we launch our innovative website.