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Phishing: fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages

by Heather Noggle
UniteNews Contributing Writer

If you catch a phish, will it feed you for a day? Maybe? It’s trying to steal something from you.
Cybersecurity terms have English equivalents we can all relate to, so in this column, here are some common cybersecurity terms about the different types of fraud criminals are using with computer and Internet-based attacks.
Some history first: confidence scams, or cons date back to ancient times. Many are detailed in The Bible, including when Jacob tricked Isaac into believing he was (older) twin brother Esau. Then Jacob found himself tricked by his uncle in a bride switcheroo.
In the 20th century, a man named Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower. TWICE. (He didn’t own it). He’s got a Springfield connection, as he died here in 1947 at the Federal Medical Center.
Fraud. Scams. The 21st century term for persuading people in a way that might be against their interests is called social engineering. Usually, now, these scams involve computers or phones – something digital. A man named Kevin Mitnick was a master social engineer and computer hacker, and he died recently, years after changing his career to benefit people instead of break into their systems.
Phishing is a social engineering term you’ve probably encountered. Using email to compel, persuade, cajole, influence, or prompt people to click on links in emails, visit sites that might spread malware onto their computers or open them up to further scams. Some phishing emails are obviously scams, but others are elaborate and meticulous and look similar to real emails. Be wary of all emails – it’s not a person standing in front of you. Verify what it’s asking you to do another way – not calling a number in the email or clicking the link.
Voice phishing – these same sorts of prompts in voice mail – is called vishing. Text message phishing? SMShing (or smishing) – after SMS, which is the texting protocol. There’s even QR code phishing – quishing. Scammers will overlay the original QR codes with stickers with another QR code, so be wary of things like restaurant menus. You might want to ask for paper menus if they’re available.
There’s another alarming term that doesn’t obviously mean what it seems: pig butchering. This term applies to romance scams and relationship building with the ultimate goal to bilk the target of money, lots of money. These often start with the attacker asking the target to move to WhatsApp or a more private platform than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Yes, the target is the “pig,” or, more accurately, the pig’s money. It’s a cruel scam that plays out over time.


Of course, scammers can simply call you with a plan – a pretext, or reason for calling. A fake scenario. “Hello, I’m Heather from tech support and…” [and then I provide something I learned about you on the Internet via research to gain trust]. Pretty soon, you might let me work on your computer, all during this phone call. One of the tricks Kevin Mitnick used was to ask the target to change his or her password – and requests the target give him the new one. Presumably, so that they could go back to their comfortable, favorite password when he was done.

It’s a different world now that we’re all connected to the Internet, often all the time. Think about it as having extra doors and windows in your house that you have to secure. Start with your mind and how you interact with people you can’t verify. Be cordial, but hold your information close.

And be careful what you click on.

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