Maintain Online Privacy

One of the wonderful things about the Internet is the capacity to share information quickly and with a lot of people.

Conversely, one of the big problems with the Internet is people with malicious internet obtaining your confidential information.  Everyone from the ‘Big Brother’ of Facebook, Google and others watching everything we do to scammers trying to steal from us.

Here are some actions you can consider to protect your online security

  1. Have up to date anti-virus and anti-malware on all of your computer devices
  2. Don’t give out information that you don’t want scammers to have, unless you are sure of the person or website you are giving it to.
  3. Be careful – if something looks too good to be true then it’s likely to be a scam
  4. Never click on a link or open an attachment unless you are sure it is safe
  5. Avoid public WI-FI if you intend to access online banking or anything else that needs to be secure.

Website Browsing

There are a number of things you can do to make your website browsing more private and safer.

  • Use the privacy/incognito mode
  • Block web activity trackers
  • Block your ads
  • Use encrypted messengers
  • Get a VPN
  • Avoid non-https:// websites for input of confidential information
  • Clear your cookies regularly
  • Use secure/encrypted email providers

The  guide at https://thebestvpn.com/online-privacy-guide/ contains a lot more information on what you can do to maintain your online privacy.

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PDFs Are Not Safe

We are all used to having to be careful opening certain emails, zipped files,  WORD, EXCEL and other types of files in case they contain some kind of malware – virus, ransomware, Trojan etc.

But most people feel safe opening PDF documents.

However, scammers are using PDFs more and more as attachments in email or malicious downloads on websites.

PDFs can contain javascript programming which can have malicious intent and they can contain links which of course could go to any website.

Microsoft Malware Protection Centre released a list of PDF filenames that are commonly used in malicious emails and websites. Scammers keep making new names of course.

  • pdf_new.pdf
  • audjehtg1.pdf
  • a10pokllt.pdf
  • pricelist.pdf
  • couple_lucky.pdf
  • 56119081.pdf
  • list.pdf
  • holidays.pdf

Q. How can you protect yourself against malicious content?

Most of the PDF exploits use Javascript so if you disable that then a large part of the problem is blocked.

However, common sense goes a long way in protecting you.

  1. Do not open an email or download anything that is sent to you by someone you don’t know
  2. Make sure your email settings are on high protection and your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are working
  3. If there’s a file on email you really want to open but aren’t sure then save it and then scan it (usually you right mouse click and select scan – depending on which anti-malware solutions you use)

Of course, you should run regular scans of your computer to ensure no malware has been installed.

How to Turn Off Javascript in PDFs

If you use a programme other than ADOBE for opening PDFs then you’ll need to check how to disable Javascript. If you use ADOBE then see below:-

  1. Start Acrobat or ADOBE
  2. Select EDIT then PREFERENCES
  3. Select the Javascript category
  4. Uncheck the Enable Acrobat Javascript option
  5. Save and exit

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Clickbank Spam

For much of this year, there have been huge numbers of spam emails relating to a Flight Simulator game and to Wood Working plans.

These message seem crazy as they are so frequent and sent to the same people and surely if someone wants to buy a Flight Simulator package they will have done so and why would anyone in their right mind buy thousands of wood working plans, supposedly to start a instant carpentry business.

But these two products are very very popular on Clickbank.

Clickbank is a marketplace for people selling products online (mostly digital products) and people wanting to make money by helping to sell those products as affiliates of the seller. These people earn commission for each product sold.

Typically an affiliate will use a website (their own or other people’s) and send out emails to attract people to a website that sells the product (sometimes  called a sales landing page).

This marketplace works well for a lot of people but sometimes very high commission is offered on stupid products and the world fills up with spam.

e.g. Ted’s Wood Working Product offers 75% commission to affiliates getting people to visit Teds sales page and buy the product.

The original sales pitch is for thousands of wood working plans for $69 but then there’s an upsell and more sells and the average purchaser ends up paying over $125 in total.

Ted’s Wood working claims to be number one 1 in Clickbank’s home and garden category for 5 years running, so people flock to try to sell the stuff and the world is full of stupid emails claiming you can make huge money making wooden objects within days of reading the plans.

e.g. 2. Virtual Pilot 3D Flight Simulator offers 70% commission on sales and claims sellers make an average of $88 per sale including upsells and more sells.  They claim to convert page views to sales at the rate of 8% so eight in every hundred people visiting the sales page go on to buy the product.

Again, people flock to sell this product and the world is full of stupid emails claiming this software can make you a real pilot or is good as actually visiting the places depicted etc. Idiots use any line to try to get people to the sales page.

Oh to rid the world of spam!

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The Order Processing Scam

An email titled “Your Order Number 967025 Has Been Processed”

It continues “Dear Client, please check your order details to ensure everything is correct”

Your Order: 967025

Date: 22/9/2017

Order Status: processed

Payment Method: Credit Card

Delivery Method: 2-3 days by Fed Ex

Then full address and contact details for EJRN Shop in London

And a breakdown of the items etc.

All looks very official, but of course it’s a phishing scam – designed to get you to click and provide account details on a fake webpage.

Many of this sort of scam message is full of grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes to put off most readers but this one is very professional.

The giveaway that it’s a scam is that the supposed shop name is EJRN whereas the email is from flock-it-to-me.com and I’ve never ordered anything from either company.

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