Beware email scams; firm hacked

The hacking of a Dallas-based marketing firm, which exposed millions of email addresses to potential misuse, has raised the concerns of various security experts who now think unwary consumers will fall for scams in their inboxes.

The hacking of a Dallas-based marketing firm, which exposed millions of email addresses to potential misuse, has raised the concerns of various security experts who now think unwary consumers will fall for scams in their inboxes.

A relatively unknown company called Epsilon came forward last week and confessed that its email database had been hacked. But this was not just any database; this was one used by industry heavyweights like Disney Destinations, banks such as Citibank, Capital One and Chase, and stores like Walgreens and Kroger.

The red-faced company isn’t saying how many addresses were taken but their blue-chip clients were forced to start notifying consumers that their email addresses were compromised and to be on the lookout for “phishing” attempts in the coming days, weeks, months and years.

This is the danger of this kind of attack. My email address is well-known so I get tons of spam, perhaps thousands a week. But few people know where I do my personal banking. So when I get an e-mail from “XYZ Bank” asking me to change my online banking password I am easily convinced to delete it because I don’t have an account with XYZ Bank.

Now, however, millions of emails are now associated with their correct relationship. A spammer can craft an email saying your Citibank account is overdrawn and to “click here” to see an important, encrypted message about your account.

And bingo, you’re infected with a Trojan that steals all of your passwords and banking data from then on.

Or you have a prescription problem at Walgreens and click here to resolve it. Bingo, you’re infected. Or click here to enter your credit card info because your card was declined. Think you’re too smart to do that? You may be but tens of thousands of people do that every year in response to fake anti-virus pop-ups and other scams.

These “phishing” attempts (named for their goal of using bait to “fish” valid information out of you) are remarkably successful in many cases because the emails look official and use scary things to con an immediate response out of people before they can think more clearly. Oh gosh, my checking account is overdrawn? That can’t be! Click. Walgreens declined my debit card? Why? I have plenty of money in that account! Click.

And this is not limited to the companies I named. According to a press release, Epilson has more than 2,500 business clients and sends out — wait for it — 40 billion emails a year. This theft will take years to recover from and consumers need to be very careful not to respond to any requests for information in their inboxes. Your bank, a store … no one needs to ask you your password or any personal information. If they need it, they already have it because you gave it to them.

Your bank does not lose your password. (It may lose your email address … but not your password.)

(James Derk, a tech columnist, owns CyberDads, a computer repair firm in Evansville, Ind. E-mail him at jim(at)cyberdads.com. For other columns, go to scrippsnews.com.)

SHNS

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo).
RDC wins two national awards for environmental initiatives

Clean50 and LEED awards were received for innovative, green projects

St. Joseph High School, Notre Dame High School, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, and St. Thomas Aquinas School are all dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more cases. (File photo by Advocate staff)
COVID-19 impacting Red Deer schools

Education minister says 99.6 per cent of students and staff remain in school in Alberta

DynaLife is hiring more staff to bring waiting times for blood tests down in Red Deer. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File)
DynaLIFE is hiring more staff in Red Deer to reduce wait times

Wait times for appointment will be further reduced

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

WHL Logo
WHL announces no playoffs for 2020-21 season

The Western Hockey League will not have playoffs following the shortened 24-game… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

A Quebec Superior Court justice is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on the constitutionality of the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec court upholds most of province’s secularism law, exempts English school boards

MONTREAL — Quebec’s secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. The British Columbia government is providing a few more details about travel restrictions aimed at limiting movement around the province to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Periodic roadblocks but no individual stops planned for B.C.’s COVID-19 travel rules

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is looking at using periodic roadblocks… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces balk at Liberals’ child-care budget pledge as funding negotiations loom

OTTAWA — Multiple provincial governments are questioning the Liberals’ promise of a… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland… Continue reading

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers says wireless service fully restored but questions remain after massive outage

A massive countrywide wireless outage that left millions of Rogers Communications Inc.… Continue reading

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The controversial Super League is materializing after Madrid and 11 other clubs announced its creation on Sunday. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Super League a ‘longtime dream’ for Madrid president Pérez

League created because coronavirus pandemic left clubs in a dire financial situation

San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau (12) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, in San Jose, Calif., Monday, March 29, 2021. Marleau is skating in his 1,757th game. Only one other player in NHL history has hit that mark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Tony Avelar
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games played

Marleau was set to suit up for the 1,768th time Monday

Most Read