What different types of threats are on the Internet?

Image Spam

Image-based spam has increased in the past year, and a higher percentage is making it past spam filters. The reason this happens is the images are varied each time a message is sent out. spam images are just slightly changed each time the message is sent. The difference may be a change in the border, or the variance of one pixel, but the change is enough to get past traditional content and signature-scanning filters. These spam messages are compared to snowflakes, because each one looks similar, but is different. Every image is in fact unique, but from a distance it will look identical.

Phishing

You receive an email that is made to look as though it comes from a legitimate company you normally do business with. The email, for example, might tell you that some sort of service normally provided to you is due to expire soon. The email directs you to a phony Web site made to look like the site of the company you do business with. Once there, you are asked to provide personal information -- such as a credit card or Social Security number -- so that your service can be continued.

Email Spoofing

Email Spoofing is when an email message appears to have originated from one source when it actually was sent from another source. Email spoofing is often an attempt to trick the user into making a damaging statement or releasing sensitive information (such as passwords). Spoofed email can range from harmless pranks to social engineering ploys. Examples of the latter include:

  • Email claiming to be from a system administrator requesting users to change their passwords to a specified string and threatening to suspend their account if they do not comply.
  • Email claiming to be from a person in authority requesting users to send them a copy of a password file or other sensitive information.

Windstream, as well as most legitimate businesses, WILL NEVER ask for any sensitive information in an email.

Email-Borne Viruses

Viruses and other types of malicious code are often spread as attachments to email messages. Before opening any attachments, be sure you know the source of the attachment. It is not enough that the mail originated from an address you recognize. Also, malicious code might be distributed in amusing or enticing programs. Never run a program unless you know it to be authored by a person or company that you trust. Also, don't send programs of unknown origin to your friends or co-workers simply because they are amusing -- they might contain a Trojan horse program.

Chat Clients

Internet chat applications, such as instant messaging applications and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, provide a mechanism for information to be transmitted bi-directionally between computers on the Internet. Chat clients provide groups of individuals with the means to exchange dialog, web URLs, and in many cases, files of any type.

Because many chat clients allow for the exchange of executable code, they present risks similar to those of email clients. As with email clients, care should be taken to limit the chat client’s ability to execute downloaded files. As always, you should be wary of exchanging files with unknown parties.

Overseas Money Transfer Scam

If an email sounds too good to be true, then it is. You'll receive an email from someone claiming to represent a foreign government or someone formerly involved with a foreign government. The person will claim that, through a change in leadership or death, he or she has been left with a large amount of money. They will ask your help getting the money out of the country, and if you help you can receive a large share of the money. The message will go on to ask you to respond to the email with bank account information and other personal information.

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