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Watch Out for the Scam Emails

As digital information becomes an increasingly hot commodity among black market operations, email scams are increasing in number and sophistication. Most internet-savvy individuals can spot scams of the Nigerian royal family variety with little trouble. However, scammers that are more adept have moved on to tactics that are less obvious, such as spoofing bank sites or phishing for financial information via official-sounding correspondence. Here are a few tips for avoiding the more elaborate scam emails today.

Your Bank Never Asks for Password or Log In

Some scam emails mimic correspondence from your bank and request that you provide a password or user name in response. Often, these emails reference an issue with your account. The scammer may try to unsettle readers with warnings or information that will cause concern, increasing the likelihood that an account holder will act quickly by sending in the requested information. Once the scammer receives the information, they have access to your bank account.

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Filed in: Computers, Email, Security, Spam

What is the Best Email Service?

Email is an essential part of the modern world. It is one of the quickest ways to communicate for business or personal reasons. It seems that almost everyone uses computers as part of their daily lives, and millions of people are online.

There are dozens of types of email services out there, but it is impossible to say that one of them is superior to others. What type of service is best depends on your needs. Different users have different needs. First, you should consider if they need a free or paid service. The difference is usually the presence of advertisements in free email services.

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Filed in: Computers, Email

Microsoft Equips Individuals With New Training Resources Needed for Jobs

Elevate America initiative provides technology skills tools at no cost and low cost.

This is great news for anyone who wants to pursue a technical career. This is the kind of stimulus that will really make a difference!

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 22, 2009, Microsoft Corp. today announced a new initiative, Elevate America, which will provide up to 2 million people over the next three years with the technology training needed to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

Microsoft has worked for years with other businesses and community-based partners to broaden access to job opportunities through information technology education and training. Elevate America expands these efforts and provides immediate support in response to the current economic crisis in partnership with others in the public and private sector.

Elevate America has two main offerings, one available immediately and one that will be provided in partnership with state governments including those of Florida, New York and Washington.

A new online resource, located at http://www.microsoft.com/ElevateAmerica, is available today. This new Web site helps individuals understand what types of technical skills they need for the jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities of today and tomorrow, and resources to help acquire these skills. The Web site provides access to several Microsoft online training programs, including how to use the Internet, send e-mail and create a “sum”, as well as more advanced programs on using specific Microsoft applications….

If you would like to receive information when the Elevate America resources become available in your state, please follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/elevateamerica.


Feds Claim to have Nailed "King of Spam"

According to this ABC news story, 27-year-old Robert Alan Soloway arrested in Seattle yesterday. They claim he’s one of the world’s biggest spammers, sending out millions of spam e-mails using computers he has hijacked and turned into “zombies” — computers that have been taken over by a hacker without the knowledge of the owners.

Will this really mean less spam in your inbox? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath. It may slow down for a little while (I’ve noticed a decrease today), but someone else will fill the hole. Guaranteed. All the laws and arrests in the world won’t deter criminals from chasing easy money. If only one e-mail out of 10,000 results in a sale, the spammer is probably making tons of money. If he sends out 10 million emails, he can expect 1000 sales.

The only solution to the spam problem is to take the profit out of it. The only way that’s going to happen is if people stop buying the stuff the crooks are pushing. That’s not likely.

The Geek

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Filed in: Computers, Email, Spam

"Pay me or I’ll kill you"

In their latest phishing scam targeting dentists, a tactic the FBI has labeled “spear phishing,” the fraudsters actually threaten violence. The potential victim receives an email purportedly from a hit man who has been hired by “a friend” to kill him for $50,000. However, if the victim agrees to pay this “hit man” $80,000, he’ll back off and let the person live:

…i have being paid $50,000.00 in advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employers, its one i believe you call a friend…

Now, listen, i will arrange for us to see face to face but before that i need the amount of $80,000.00 and you will have nothing to be afraid of.

The entire text of the message is presentented in this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

One of my company’s clients was targeted by this and called us quite upset. We told him that it was more than likely a hoax, but recommended that he immediately report it to the police. We also referred him to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If you know anyone who has been targeted by this scam and hasn’t been told it’s a scam, please give them some relief and send a link to this article.

The Geek

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Filed in: Answers, Email, Security, Spam

Emailing MP3 files

Ira writes: What kind of program do I use to send music through email, that will upload fast and download fast?

Thanks for your question, Ira. Something that I believe will fit your bill quite nicely is a service called NetPod. You can upload your MP3s or other music files and then share them with whomever you want using an email link. The service has a built-in MP3 player, so you can listen from anywhere. Here’s some info:

NetPod provides users up to 100GB of online storage that is available from virtually any Internet connected computer through the product’s patented, drag & drop, interface. Features include the ability to share and distribute very large files, create an instant network, securely access data remotely, and play music directly from stored MP3 files. Data can be shared from the account by sending an e-mail with a simple download link or by creating an unlimited number of shared folders that are individually password protected and accessible to others. Your NetPod account can also receive e-mails of unlimited size. Up to 5 users can simultaneously access an account and collaborate on contracts, presentations, and files.The product also has a built-in MP3 player and allows users to listen to their music from virtually any Internet connected computer. User files and privacy are protected by 2048-bit encryption. Version 3.0.1 may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.

Here’s the link to the download:

Filed in: Email, Tips

How to surf the Web & read e-mail safely as an administrator

Microsoft could regain much of the computing community’s lost confidence (which may be slowly returning) if it would spend more time on public relations than on marketing hype. Case in point: Tech-savvy users have warned of the dangers of running Windows as an administrator and have recommended various solutions, including running with a limited user account (which has problems, not the least of which is that it won’t allow you to install vital anti-virus updates); yet, for over a year, Microsoft has had a workable solution, a little program aptly called “Drop My Rights”. (Download DropMyRights.msi here).

Last November, Microsoft Security Engineer, Michael Howard, published “Browsing the Web and Reading E-mail Safely as an Administrator” on the Microsoft Developer Network website. Basically, you create a shortcut using dropmyrights.exe pointing to the application you want to run as a limited user. Here’s an example (from the article): C:\warez\dropmyrights.exe “c:\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe” (yes, include the quotes). You could do the same with any application you want to run as a limited user, Outlook Express or Firefox, for instance. Dropmyrights.exe will affect only the application you launch with it; everything else will run normally in the administrative user context. Howard’s article gives detailed instructions and explanations, but is quite technical , so be prepared for some geek jargon.

Dropmyrights will prevent any ActiveX controls, browser hijacker programs, spyware, adware, etc. from installing, even if you give permission. Mike Healan, over at spywareinfo.com says he has tested this out on some rather nasty sites and it prevented any malware from being installed.


Outlook saves images only as bitmaps (.bmp)

Q. When I save pictures received in email while using Outlook, they are always automatically saved as Bitmap files. I wish to save them as received, either JPG or Gif. This problem does not exist when I employ Outlook Express. I’m running Windows XP Home with SP2 and all updates are current. I have Microsoft Office 2003 Student & Teachers Edition installed. I have been unable to locate the setting(s) to enable pictures received in email using Outlook to be saved in JPG or GIF or the option to control what file type of they will be saved in.

A. The funny thing about Outlook is that it’s not Outlook causing your problem, it’s Internet Explorer. All of the picture and web display work for Outlook is done by IE, so it’s there we have go.

According to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 810978 there are several things that could cause your problem, but let’s address the most likely cause first: “a damaged program file…is downloaded to the Downloaded Program Files folder on your hard disk.” Here’s how to fix it:

1. Start Internet Explorer (if it is not already started).
2. Empty the contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder. To do so:
a. On the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
b. Click the General tab.

c. Under Temporary Internet files, click Delete Files.
d. When you are prompted to delete all temporary Internet files, click OK.
3. In the Downloaded Program Files folder on your hard disk, remove the files that are listed as either Unknown or Damaged. To do so:
a. On the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
b. Click the General tab.
c. Under Temporary Internet files, click Settings.
d. Click View Objects.
The list of program files that are downloaded to the SystemRoot\Downloaded Program Files folder on your hard disk appears in the Downloaded Program Files window.
e. In the Status column, note the files that are listed as either Unknown or Damaged. Remove these files. To do so, right-click the file, and then click Remove.
f. When you are prompted to confirm the removal, click Yes.
g. Close the Downloaded Program Files window, and then click OK two times.


My emails are gone!

Q. Please help me! All of my emails are gone. My computer died. The computer guy replaced the power supply and that fixed it, but when I go into Outlook, all of my old emails are gone; all I can see are the emails that came in today. They were all there just a few minutes ago on the laptop I used to log into Outlook.

A. Ah! There’s the problem. You can relax; your emails didn’t disappear, they’re just where you can’t see them. The laptop you logged onto was set to use “Personal Folders” as the mail destination. When you logged into Outlook, all of your emails were downloaded into a special file on the laptop’s hard drive. They are no longer on the server, so you can’t see them. If you ever have to access your email from a machine other than your own, the safest way is to log into the Outlook Web Access; that way, all of your email stays on the server.

[I fixed her problem by logging onto the laptop and copying the emails from the Personal Folders back to the Mailbox on the server.]

For some excellent tips on Outlook, log into Outlook Daily Tips.

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