Phishing for dollars

Computers are now an integral part of life at Case Western Reserve University. We use them to communicate, do groundbreaking research, order pizza and watch videos of cats watching washing machines. How did we ever survive before YouTube?

But just as the rise of the car led to the rise of the car thief, the rise of the computer has led to the rise of the cybercriminal. And just like with automobile theft and other crimes, there are steps you can take to try and keep yourself from becoming a victim. Some may seem obvious (locking a car door seems obvious, but is sometimes forgotten), but a number of CWRU students have fallen victim to some of these types of crimes this year, so a refresher seems in order.

First, always remember that most things you say or send on the internet are going to be preserved or stored in some manner probably for longer than you think; and in many cases viewed or accessed by more people than you think. So pause before you hit send on that message or download that photo—think of it like getting a tattoo. You want to make sure it isn’t something that isn’t going to embarrass or be used against you years from now. A simple but sometimes forgotten concept.

Another simple but sometimes forgotten concept is being wary of sharing personal identifiers or financial information over the internet. Every CWRU email account gets bombarded with phishing attacks from people claiming to be your bank, CWRU IT or some other organization you do business with threatening dire consequences if you don’t provide the requested information immediately. Don’t do it until you can verify who you are dealing with.

Finally a scam that often targets the parents, or grandparents, of students far away from home or abroad is the phony crisis scam. This is a phone call that states your son/daughter has been arrested in Cleveland/Daytona Beach/Mexico City and you need to send bail money immediately. The best way to prevent this is to keep in contact with your loved ones so they know when they are being scammed. So let’s look out for each other—I’m off to watch some cat videos.