Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Phishing is Bad Today

At some point, folks, it’s just too much, and I have to say something.  Most of you know (I’ve complained about it before) that I have several email accounts and routinely get 2-300 emails in a day.  Along with the usual Viagra ads (six children, seventh mere minutes away now, seriously doubt that the Viagra is necessary) and pitches to help someone-or-other in Nigeria (got one in French the other day – good French, too, my father says, and he would know), I get phishing attempts from “banks” wanting me to “upgrade”.  Sometimes it’s EBay instead (I think EBay is one of the six reasons the Internet was created), but mostly it’s “from” some bank I don’t have an account at.

Some of the scams are pretty good.  Phishing, for those not in the know, is an email trolling scam where your financial information or passwords are collected by a third-party website pretending to be a bank or other institution “upgrading its account” or “verifying your information”.  Mostly, these are pretty transparent, though there are some that are quite good and one or two (I save these) that are downright diabolical.  So the bar is set, you might say, pretty high.

Then today I get this:
Dear client of Washington Mutual,
Technical services of the Washington Mutual are carrying out a planned software upgrade. We earnestly ask you to visit the following link to start the procedure of confirmation on customers data.
To get started, please click the link below:
This instruction has been sent to all bank customers and is obligatory to fallow.
Thank you,
Customers Support Service.

You may not be a grammarian.  You may not be a member of the SAGP.  But please, please tell me nobody would ever fall for something like this.  Note additionally, if you’re ever uncertain about one of these phishing scams, just mouse over the hyperlink to see the site you’ll be taken to.  If it isn’t the same one in the hyperlink, don’t go there.  Heck, just don’t go there.  Ever.  If any – ANY – email letter or chain email ever proves to be accurate, I promise you you’ll hear about it here first.

And a word about email chain letters: they are all false.  All of them.  People send them (surely not you), saying things like “what can it hurt?”, and nearly always those batch emails are sent in the clear as Cc, not Bcc, so the email addresses are all out there for anyone to get.  But it can’t hurt, right?

Oh yeah?  Do you really think the phishers are buying their email lists?  Why would they, when all they have to do is send out a warning about someone trying to ban the US flag from classrooms, together with a bogus link to a webpage, which link nobody – NOBODY – ever seems to click on, and presto! ten thousand emails go swooshing about the Internet and the email addresses pile up!  And since the people sending and re-sending these emails are among the most gullible humans ever created by God, they are, coincidentally, the perfect market for phishing scams, which they will think are “obligatory to fallow”.  So somewhere out there is a little old grandma who lost her life’s savings because someone sent her an email about how Bill Gates was giving away his billions to “anyone that forwards this email”, because, after all, “what can it hurt?”  Don’t you hope it wasn’t you?


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