The Bad Guys


The Bad Guys
Mac Tip #154/23-June-2004

As Mac users our lives have been blessedly free so far of many of the problems plaguing our Windows-using colleagues. Nevertheless we suffer side-effects as their computers swamp ours with viruses, junk mail and other annoyances.

There are some “bad guys” though which can affect us more directly.

One such “bad guy” is the “web bug”. This is a little piece of coding which can arrive in an email and is attached to a tiny transparent image. That image has to be called up from a server and can inform the sender that you’ve displayed the email message.

What’s wrong with that? Well, if the sender’s a spammer it confirms that yours is a working email address. You can now look forward to receiving even more spam.

The solution: read your email software’s Help files to find out how to stop it from displaying images unless you ask it to.

Another email-related “bad guy” is called “phishing”. This email looks just like one from your bank or other money-related service. It claims that some security measure requires you to visit a web page and enter various information such as usernames and passwords.

If you click the link in the email it takes you to a totally fraudulent site disguised to look like the real thing which captures your information. Days, or even months later you suddenly find that you’ve “bought” items you know nothing about.

The solution: your bank will never ask for such a thing or in such a way. Only ever visit your bank (or similar) website by either typing in the address from legitimate bank promotional material or by using a stored bookmark where you entered the address yourself.

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