Right on the heels of the FBI fraudulent e-mail scam, has comes a huge wave of e-mail attacks that have resulted in some e-mail customers being denied access to their e-mail accounts.
This weekend Microsoft learned that several thousand Windows Live Hotmail customer’s personal information was exposed on the internet. This wasn’t simply an error and Microsoft assures customers that this was not an internal breach in security. Around thirty thousand e-mail customer’s information was posted on a third party site and is considered to be the result of a phishing scheme. Microsoft immediately requested the removal of this private information and began and investigation. Google says that less than five hundred email accounts were actually affected by the phishing attacks.
If you have an MSN, hotmail or live.com e-mail account, you should change your password immediately. You may find that you cannot log in to your e-mail account. This is not the result of the scam but rather Microsoft is closing exposed accounts and only letting users back in after they can verify their information. This is no doubt a hassle but seems a necessary step to keep just anyone from accessing your account.
Neowin.net, a technology blog, is reporting that the phishing attack may have also included gmail, AOL, Comcast and earthlink. It sounds like it is a good time for everyone to create new passwords, regardless of your e-mail carrier.
What is a phishing scheme?
A phishing scheme is a when a hackers goes “fishing” for personal information by sending out either random or targeted e-mails. Phishing schemes may mimic someone you think you should trust such as your bank. Tell tale signs include scare tactics like “There is a breach in your account. Please verify your password by entering it here,” or the irresistible good news that “you’ve won a prize” or “the lottery if only you’ll enter your account information here so you can claim it.” Phishing e-mails often contain misspellings or grammatical errors as they are often originated outside of the United States in Russia or China, although certainly not always.
How can I avoid being the victim of a phishing scheme?
-Install and regularly update security software and anti-virus software
-Change passwords at least every 90 days
-Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited e-mails
-Even when you know the sender, be wary of links
What can I do if I think I’ve been a victim of a phishing scheme?
-Report the incident to the authorities
Use email@example.com to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
Use firstname.lastname@example.org to report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
-Change all passwords
-Review you credit reports
-Check bank and other statements carefully
-Update security software
-If you know you’ve leaked specific information, such as your credit card number, contact the company immediately to change account numbers and passwords.
-If a real institution was imitated, such as a bank, e-bay, the Better Business Bureau, the FBI or Pay Pal (all real examples of names used in phishing schemes) contact the institution directly to report the scam.
-If your problem is with Microsoft, you can all the Microsoft PC hotline at 1-866-PCSAFETY
Phishing scams seem to be on the rise so don’t let your guard down. Many fraud nightmares begin with the simple click of a link on an unsuspicious e-mail.