We all know to avoid helping out the Nigerian prince asking for $500. Or the special pill that will make us do amazing things. Or the job that lets you work from home that pays you more than most Wall Street executives.

But what if you get an email from a colleague that is work related? Or an error message on an email you sent out?

Confused?

So was the rest of America apparently.

This is spear phishing, a rapidly proliferating form of fraud that comes with a familiar face: messages that seem to be from co-workers, friends or family members, customized to trick you into letting your guard down online. And it has turned into a major problem, according to technology companies and computer security experts.

Google disclosed Wednesday it was the victim of a cyber attack. State officials are investigating claims it may have originated in China. China has denied such involvement.

“It’s a really nasty tactic because it’s so personalized,” said Bruce Schneier, the chief security technology officer of the British company BT Group. “It’s an e-mail from your mother saying she needs your Social Security number for the will she’s doing.”

Mr. Schneier said the attacks are more like a traditional con game than a technically sophisticated intrusion. “This is hacking the person,” he said. “It’s not hacking the computer.”

So what do you do when you find yourself with an out-of-control email account?

As one of the few whose accounts was hacked, it’s incredibly frustrating, scary, and nerve-racking. There’s no help line to call. No immediate email to send.

It takes research.

So … here are some tips.

1. Have a decent password

Don’t make it just a simple word. Add some numbers to it. AND DON’T MAKE YOUR PASSWORD ‘PASSWORD.’

2. Change your password regularly

Get it in your system to change your password every other month.

3. Set up a verification code

Ok, so it’s another password. But it’s safe and it works.

If you are a smartphone user, you can download a Google Authenticator app that serves as a 6-digit random code generator that links with your gmail.

Confused? OK.

Enter your gmail password. You will get a prompt for a verification code. Check your phone. Enter code. You’re golden.

4. Don’t be a moron

Seriously. Don’t click on emails you aren’t expecting.

Do you have any other tips? Experience? Sound off below.

 

A hilarious commercial for a pretty cool app. Check it out.

Trending Topics

As of 11 hours ago, America’s favorite counterterrorism agent was trending on Twitter. Why? Well, you have seen the news right? No? Turn on a TV. Or a radio. Maybe buy a newspaper, they’re quite cheap, I hear.

Some, jokingly, speculated, this is what the ex-CTU agent was up to since last being seen saving New York City from nuclear destruction and being hauled off by private police. His current whereabouts are unknown. (No, I will not SPOIL the end of 24 for you) Read the rest of this entry »

Today we take a look at Facebook and the CIA, courtesy of Julian Assange, Wikileaks EIC.

The comment was made on Russia Today, with Assange claiming Facebook was the “most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented.”

Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.

They Said It is a feature where we show an interesting quote from the day’s news. Let’s hope it’s enough to make you think.

Not the 39 steps.

Today it’s 39 percent.

Why? Make with the clicking and see if you can figure out why.

So, own an iPhone? Great. Read a news article lately about having your location being tracked? Great. Read 1984 and made some parallels? Great.

We’ve covered this before previously in Quick Hits and in a follow up post, but due to its timeliness and place in the news cycle, it’s time for another shot.

The Situation

British security experts Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan published a report (see their great site here) claiming iPhones and iPads were collecting users’ geolocation data. What’s worse: They claim it’s unencrypted and can be viewed by anyone. Read the rest of this entry »

Ladies and gents, I give you the world’s largest infographic about social media I’ve ever seen. (courtesy of Mashable)