Jun 23, 2017

Catfishing, Ghosting, Phishing, and Spoofing

New  threatening online practices are showing up almost monthly. As old threats are stopped, the bad guys dream up new ones. Below are a few current schemes by bad actors to gain personal information to steal from your bank account, abruptly end a relationship, or damage your reputation.

Catfishing is being used more and more often and refers to the act of luring someone into a perceived or real relationship via an online persona that does not actually exist. It occurs in many forms, such as individuals may steal others’ photos and use them as their own, claim to have a job they do not actually have, or build an entire fictional personality from scratch in order to appear attractive to the person they are interested in.

Ghosting is a new term for breaking up with someone by completely cutting off contact with them, ignoring their attempts to get in touch, and not providing an explanation for why they ended the relationship. It is often used by people who meet online or by using social media apps. Ghosting is also used as a way to not take responsibility for a relationship and is confusing and hurtful to the person being ghosted.

Phishing is committing fraud by posing as a legitimate and often widely-known company or brand. People who are doing this, buying up domains that are closely related in spelling to a real domain, duplicating the actual brand’s website, and capturing information for the purpose of identity or other theft. Some will take payments for products and services that don’t exist, and others will infect computers with bots, spyware, and malware. Many internet service providers recommend antivirus programs that contain real-time phishing filters. These filters can block internet pages and websites that are characteristic of phishing.

Spoofing is the act of forging an email so that it appears the email came from someone other than the actual sender. This is common among crooks, who want to install programs that record and transmit keystrokes on victims’ computers in hopes of obtaining bank account information and passwords. Most email service providers have become adept at flagging these attempts. Running and maintaining antivirus and anti-malware protection is crucial to staying safe while using the internet.

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