by Joel Saltzman
Several years ago, I quit the cellular business and was just specializing in "As A Service" IT cloud offerings like exchange e-mail, business phone service, SD WAN, Cyber security, and website building. This past January, I retired from taking new clients but kept all my certifications valid in order to continue servicing my current clients.
Any new clients I am happy to refer to my channel manager colleagues at all the major IT providers. Ironically, with COVID 19, all of our business clients that listened to me were successfully transitioned to RingCentral, Jive, Mitel, Broadvoice, or a number of other cloud business phone service providers we represent. Being able to operate your office seamlessly from home is golden these days.
Recently, there has been a tremendous spike in fraudulent activity. I thought this was basic stuff but apparently many people have no idea how to protect themselves. I'm putting my IT consulting hat back on again for a few minutes. Lately, Facebook Messenger, which is not encrypted, has become the "trojan Horse" and the most common way to get exploited. Just this morning, I received a message from my brother's messenger account, trying to get me to open a link that was "asking if this was a picture of me". It was clearly a malware attack and everyone in his e-mail contact list received it. That is why, you cannot even true the sender.
Do not open any URL or links in an e-mail from e-bay, microsoft outlook, your bank, or any other official company. I always run my mouse over the sender's e-mail address which often reveals the bogusness of the sender.
Do not insert any FlashDrives or other devices that may have malware or viruses without extreme caution.
Do not blindly respond to e-mails claiming something is expiring. The bad guys try to scare you into thinking you need to renew and try to get your info. Anytime you're requested to click on a link, or asked for personal info, be very cautious. In the old days, the hackers were often from other countries and it was easy to tell. Missed spelled words or poor word structure were common. It's much harder these days. Even large hospitals have been attacked with ransom ware. The bad guys take over the companies e-mail accounts and often make them pay a ransom to return things to normal which does not happen all the time, even if you paid.
I even received a bogus e-mail from my Web site provider stating that my website was expiring and they needed new information. Apparently, Weebly, my host, had nothing to do with this. I also regularly get suspicious e-mails on messenger.
Facebook Vendor Fraud has never been worse. Clearly, they do not vet their advertisers. I have seen electric foil boards for $199.99. Lately, there are multiple vendors ripping off Maui Jim sunglasses. Some overtly use their company name and logo. Others copy it but might call it Maui Jlms, with an "L' Instead of "i". Bottom line is they sell counterfeit glasses and Facebook enables this.
What this all means is that with more people turning to the internet to do business, there are more dirtbags out there than ever. People need to understand that the IRS does not call people. My wife gets phone calls saying there are warrants out for her arrest and to call a special number regularly.
The other dumb thing to avoid is opting out of e-mail. Apparently, a new ploy is to barrage you with e-mails. I just received for e-mails yesterday about job search companies. When I tried to opt out where it says "Unsubscribe", they asked me what address I wanted to remove. Duh! Never respond to these because if they were legit and sent you and e-mail, they know what your e-mail is. In fact, I would not even reason if it is legit. Very often responding validates your e-mail address "is Valid" and can be resold to various mailing lists.
I'm taking my IT hat off and putting back on my surfing hat. This information is for all my IT customers and surfer friends and clients. Proceed with care. These are dangerous times.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.