Watch out for Spike!

Justin Seibert | | ,

If you use the Web, you know the dangers out there, like this guy to the right. Technically, when it comes to gremlins, I prefer the Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode to the movie, but I think Spike looks scarier than this guy. Besides, certainly Corey Feldman could use more press than William Shatner. C’mon, 2 different tv shows for this parody of himself? P’shaw, America (says the rabid fan of Hell’s Kitchen).The point of today’s post, boys and girls is to recognize some of these threats and learn what you can do to protect yourself.

Internet Threat #1: Using Your Brand for Phishing

You’ve seen the emails. Security updates for your password with a bank you’ve never stepped foot in. An offer from the wife of former Prince Naiem of Suckerland who will give you $2,000,000 if you hold for her the sum of $38,000,000 US. These emails are sent by people “phishing” for people to bite on the bait and get you to turn over sensitive information so they can rob you blind and steal your identity.

Now major brands like Coca-Cola, Micky D’s, and JP Morgan Chase are being hijacked. Although, couldn’t it be possible that Chase is just opening a new phishing branch to complement its services line? My favorite part about this story is that the email offer is for a chance to win a Mercedes-Benz ML Jeep convertible. Since Mercedes-Benz doesn’t make any such car, I guess it could be classified as none-of-a-kind.

Protect Yourself: If you receive one of these emails, just realize that it’s probably not real if it sounds great. If you really want to see if it’s real, don’t click on the link in the email – visit the corporate Web site to see if you can find the offer or visit Snopes. From a corporate standpoint, there’s not much you can do for preventative. If you find out someone’s using your logo or name, put up a notice on your Web site and provide a warning in any mass emails you send out to your email subscribers if you have such a list.

Internet Threat #2: Stolen Credit Card / Identity Theft Orders

This is an old game, but certainly has sped into high gear with the internet’s advent. Whole rings of thieves are out there trying to buy any and everything they can with stolen or otherwise illegally gotten credit cards. Sometimes it’s a particularly huge order online; sometimes the people call in.

My favorite story has to be that of a glass seller I know. She was verifying billing address information with someone ordering her wares and the person told her he lived in “Columbus, O-H” as opposed to “Columbus, Ohio”.

And a note on Nigerian orders – just don’t take them. I’m sure Nigeria is a beautiful country with millions of wonderful people, but they must be the scam country capital of the world. They have whole rooms of guys that just call and email all day long trying to take advantage of comparatively rich Americans.

Protect Yourself: Be extra careful with orders that seem large, or otherwise funny. Always verify addresses, and ship only to billing addresses if you can. Utilize the fraud check resources of your merchant account provider and credit card companies. Also, delay orders as long as possible. Sometimes credit card companies will approve a charge, a month goes by, and then they tell you it was fraudulent and you’re out the product and shipping charges.

Internet Threat #3: Trojans, Keylogging, & More

I used to do internet marketing and client services work in house for a financial company. One day I got a call from a customer wondering where his order was. I couldn’t find him in the system, so after a few minutes of back and forth, he sent me the url he had for us.

Turns out someone had jacked our logo, copy, phone number, etc. from one of our landing pages for our search engine marketing accounts and put it on their own site. Not only did they get him to order from them, but their landing page also served as a keylogger. Once he entered contact information and hit “submit”, they were able to view whatever he typed into his computer. Passwords, account information, everything.

This was the first time I learned about trojan malicious software (also called malware). A trojan allows various types of malware to be downloaded onto your computer. Keyloggers have to be one of the most dangerous types of trojans. This was becoming such a big problem at the time that I was contacted by and had correspondence with the FBI’s online fraud department – can’t remember its name off the top of my head.

Protect Yourself: Be very careful of emails you receive – don’t download anything you don’t know and even be careful of sites you visit. Simply clicking a link on a bad site can open you up to a world of Randy Savage elbow drop pain. Make sure you’re running anti-virus and other protective programs on your computer and download updates frequently. Also, if you’re using Internet Explorer (IE) as your browser, consider switching to something like Mozilla Firefox. Programmers can get you in any browser, but most types of malware are aimed at exploiting IE. It’s the most popular browser by far and typically used by less tech-savvy people. If you’re a business, all the above goes double for you. Also consider implementing an internet usage policy that all employees with Web access abide by…and sign.

Internet Threat #4: Taking Advantage of Sloppy Code for Spam

About once a month, Direct Online Marketing receives 5 or 6 leads about two minutes apart from our Free Internet Advertising Consultation page. The lead information gives nonsensical messages and a bunch of email addresses. I finally asked my programmer about it and he said spammers go through Web sites looking for forms with “sloppy code” and use those forms to inflict the world with offers for Viagwa. The good news is that by receiving those requests, it shows that their attempts don’t work.

Protect Yourself: Have professional coders do your form work and vet anyone you hire as an employee or contractor. You don’t want to be indirectly responsible for mailboxes flooded with “sexually-explicit” emails, do you?

Internet Threat #5: Fear Yourself

Sometimes, you’re just really stupid. What would be a good example? Let me see. Let’s say you write an extra long blog post about, I don’t know, how people can protect themselves against internet threats. You do it directly into a program that doesn’t allow you to save instead of one that does that you can copy and paste from. Then you accidentally close down that page. The worst part? You’ve done this twice before.

Protect Yourself: Don’t be a moron – back up your work. You (the royal you) know better than that.

Hope these help.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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