It is the Season — Christmas and New Year’s Day are almost here! It’s the season of joy, giving and thoughtful reflection on our past and what we’d like to do differently in the future.
In the midst of all the happiness and gift-giving spirit, there are other forces at work…
The spammers and scammers are trying to work their wiles on us, trying to separate us from our money and put it into their pockets.
Most of the junk emails we get are offering goods or services, like health insurance, weight loss products, car sales, and specialty drugs.
Others are more nefarious. They try to convince us to open PDF attachments that will infect our systems, if we don’t have the latest patched version of our PDF reader, or convince us to go to web sites for "drive-by downloads."
Opening a zip file shouldn’t infect your system. However, Microsoft designed Windows to do some things to files regardless of the file extension. So, the file that appears to end in .zip may actually be an executable .exe or .cmd file, and will run when you double-click it. Not good.
You should be able to use a program like 7-zip to safely unzip a file, or at least to check that it is a real zip file — you’d open 7-zip and then tell 7-zip to open the suspicious file. Never double-click a suspicious file!
I always find it interesting when I get the same seemingly-reasonable email from multiple different people, each identical in content. The latest purports to be a request from a bank’s accounts payable supervisor for me to open an attached zip file (hoping I’ll either infect myself that way or by opening the file it contains), or that I”ll do what the email asked me to do.
What did they ask me to do? They wanted me to open the file, fill out the ACH form (Automated Clearing House — the check clearing system in the U.S.) and send them a copy of a voided check. That way, they’d have all they needed to process a draft against my bank account (while implying to me that this was to send a payment to me). Nice try.
They even got cute enough to use the same person’s name as the sender and on the enclosed message! But, everything else changed the name.
Watch out for the spams and scams this year. Some people may actually respond — I hope it’s not you.