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How do I protect myself from communicable e-diseases?

To protect your computer system, software, files and other device, and to avoid the embarrassment of getting spammed, or even worse, here is a list of the most common diseases and how to protect yourself:

Logging: Also referred to as keylogging, is the action of recording (or logging) the keys struck on a keyboard typically in a covert manner so that the person is unaware that their actions are being monitored. It is done through a variety of methods, including software, hardware, key overlays, optical surveillance and wireless methods. It is often downloaded inadvertently by users clicking on links in fraudulent emails. Luckily, software is on the market to protect you.

Vishing, Phishing, and Smishing

Vishing: The criminal practice of using Voice Over IP (VOIP) to gain access to private personal and financial information, typically occurring when you receive a phone call to your landline telephone alerting you that your credit card or bank account has had fraudulent activities. Voice vishing is very difficult for legal authorities to monitor or trace. To protect yourself, do not verify any personal or financial information and hang up. Then, call the company back who claims to have made the call through a phone number listed on a bill statement or other official source. The only phone number that First Entertainment Credit Union will ask you to call is 888.800.3328.

Phishing: The online version of vishing works by sending you a fake message, usually an email, which appears to be from a legitimate financial institution or service provider. Like vishing, you will be directed to a toll-free number and asked to enter your credit card number or other personal information.

Smishing: Same as Phishing, but appears as a SMS text message.

Social Engineering: This is the politically correct term for ‘a con game’. Social engineers are those people who appeal to an individual’s weaknesses – fear, vanity, authority, greed, etc. – to get them to reveal their personal identification information. The term also applies to people who just look over your shoulder to look at your computer screen in a public space – also known as shoulder surfing…only in California, huh?

SPAM: Unlike the tightly packed meat product sold in blue, pull-top cans, computer spam explodes unwanted texts and emails into your mobile devices. A legitimate operation, spam allows advertisers to keep their operating costs low. However, the hassle for consumers who have to deal with a deluge of unwanted messages is high. Your behaviors are your best defense:

  • Do not display your mobile phone number in public.
  • Be careful about giving out your mobile phone number, email address or other personal information on unknown websites (even if it looks legitimate).
  • Do not respond to unwanted texts or emails.
  • Check with your mobile service provider about blocking future messages from specific senders.
  • Use an email filter.
  • Use two email addresses: one for your personal messages and the other for newsgroups, chats, etc.
  • For more information, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Spyware: Aptly named, spyware is software that gathers information about an individual or organization without their knowledge, and then may send that information to another entity without consent. Sometimes, spyware is included with genuine software that is from a malicious website. Your best defense is a good offense: Install and regularly run anti-spyware software, and keep it up to date.

Trojan Horse: It looks like legitimate software, but all things are not as they appear. Trojan horses are different than other computer viruses because the victim willingly downloads it into their computer believing that the software will provide some benefit. It’s difficult to protect yourself from Trojan infections without software, but the good news is that there is free, downloadable software on the Internet that you can use.