A large part of the Internet is fake! What? Yip, emails, websites, mobile app store, social networking plugins and apps, banking, etc. All fake. Because there are a lot of clever people out there trying to con you out of money or whatever else they can. With 1.8 Billion current Internet users ( 5.1 Million in SA ), that’s a lot of potential revenue.
84% of the 250 Billion emails sent across the Internet on a daily basis is spam ( 17 out of 20 ). And a lot of those have phishing and pharming content – emails that masquerade as coming from legitimate companies and sites in a bid to get you to divulge personal security information like account numbers, passwords and PIN codes, by clicking on malicious links.
A recent phishing email purported to be from Standard Bank and in fact, it’s likely the clever scammers behind this email, and the subsequent website, had actually ‘stolen’ the website code from SB directly in a bid to make their fake site look as legitimate as possible. The only point at which one could see that there was a problem is if you inspected the code behind the Internet Banking login page. At the point of submitting your login details, these would be sent to the scammers system instead of SB.
- Emails regularly request that you click on links to confirm your banking or other account details, leading to your information being snapped up by scammers
- The SSL certificates used in securing access to websites with encrypted communications ( between your browser and the site ) have periodically been subjected to hacks, resulting in a system that’s not entirely foolproof
- DNS poisoning tricks pollute DNS results meaning that it could look like you’re on the site you’re expecting but the actual content is coming from elsewhere
- Google, and other search engine, results are regularly polluted with pharming information resulting in redirections to fake sites
- A large percentage of well-known websites have malicious packages embedded in those sites, causing drive-by infections of visiting users
- The latest trick is to put up complete fake App Stores ( eg. Apple and Android ), causing those who normally stick to official app stores, to become victims of fake sales of apps for their mobile devices
To say it’s the Wild Wild West out there is putting it very mildly indeed. Understatement of the century! It’s vitally important that Internet users safeguard themselves with the best defence possible: Logic
Logic will allow one to look at a piece of information objectively and determine the validity of that information. No matter if you’re Spock ( logic personified ) or Rembrandt ( artistic with not a shred of logic in your bones ), take the time to look at the information you’re presented and based on the idea that you expect to be fooled, try to determine the validity of that information as best you can. Assume the worst, and you’ll increase your chances of detecting malicious attempts at being conned.