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April 27, 2014

Don’t swallow the phisherman’s bait and become a victim

NORMAN — Years ago, I remember seeing my first “phishing” website; I was impressed. It looked exactly like the website of a popular credit card company, right down to the logo, buttons and graphics.

The only way that I could tell it was fake was that the address in the address bar of my browser wasn’t quite right.

The lucrative sport of “phishing” has been around for years but has become super-profitable as of late. The attacks usually start with a bogus email that tells you to go to a bank or credit card website to “update” your personal information or take advantage of a special promotion.

As soon as you type in your username and password, the bad guys have you hooked and can start stealing your money. Every year, many millions of people are ripped off by phishing attacks and many billions of dollars are stolen.

You’ve probably received a phishing email before; statistics show that at least 80 percent of online adults have.

What’s more disturbing, though, is that 4.4 percent of folks receiving phishing emails swallowed the bait and lost money to the bad guys. Compared to most email marketing campaigns, that is a shockingly high response rate.

The phishing scams invented by the bad guys are very clever and take an aware mind and keen eye to detect. The good folks at OpenDNS have put up a website (opendns.com/phishing-quiz/) where you can test your phishing scam-spotting skills. Sadly, a large segment of the Internet population seems to be clueless in detecting fake websites.

Do you know the “s+lock” rule? When you visit websites that require a login password, pay attention to the website’s address at the top of your browser and observe the “s+lock” rule.

What you want to see is the address prefix “https” instead of just “http.” You also want to see a little yellow lock symbol down in the lower corner.

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