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Australia, Dec 18, 2018 – T’was the Month before Christmas, and some email scammers were making threats and displaying poor manners. How did you spend your November?  Were you busy planning Christmas parties, Christmas presents and Christmas holidays? Perhaps you commemorated “Movember” by growing a moustache? Or were you busy contemplating what your end of year bonus might look like?

However you spent November, we hope you had a good one…but spare a thought for our intrepid co-founder! She found herself fending-off spammers and cyber-criminals last month! During the process, she learned a couple of things about what (not) to do when faced with such digital-age pests.  Lessons that we pass on here for your benefit!

Bitcoin Blackmail

In the middle of last month, our co-founder received an email from one Wang Vries (probably not his real name) declaring that he had uncovered all of our co-founder’s “secrets”.

This is something that she would have normally laughed off, but for the fact that the scammer knew of a particular password that our co-founder has used in the past on a number of websites.

Now this Wang Vries character made the threat to “spoil your life completely” if our co-founder didn’t send the cyber-criminal $1,000 worth of bitcoin within “42 hours” (this would only be about $590 worth of Bitcoin at today’s prices!)

As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a most unsettling email to receive. Our co-founder had to then spend much of that day changing passwords on a number of web sites.

Aside from being a pain-in-the-tech, this chore was further frustrated by the fact that many web sites don’t allow users with log-ins to change their email address. And often there is no email contact, or support, or help desk to reach out to in order to try and change an email address.

This is something we have made a point of addressing at Empire Code as we build-out our online login system.

Lessons Learned

  1. Don’t reuse the same password for multiple logins
  2. Use a password manager such as Dashlane, LastPass or 1Password. Using a password manager means you don’t have to memorize multiple passwords, plus they can even generate strong passwords for you
  3. Take advantage of “two factor authentication” (aka “2FA”) where possible. Many banks are now using this technology, where a code is sent to your hand phone via SMS when you try to log in.

A “pro” tip on generating a strong password: Think of a three-or-four-word phrase that you find easy to remember and capitalize the first letter of each word. For example, it could be something like “EricLikesIkeaFurniture”. That is just as secure as, and far easier to remember than “fGr!8(x9$”.

Spam is Not Healthy

Despite our co-founder’s predilection for luncheon meat, she learned last month to leave spam alone. Only a couple of days after receiving the bitcoin blackmail email, she received a scam email of the “Nigerian Prince” variety. The email read as follows:

Dear … ,

I am Mr Joy Clay. I work with the Bank of Africa in Abidjan Cote d’ivorie. I am contacting you in regards to a funds transfer.

I will appreciate your willingness to handle this with maturity. I give you all the details you need to know regarding this transaction. It is 100% legal and risk free. I am interested to invest in these areas (Real Estate Management / Construction, Land and Multifamily Housing, Hospital / Laboratories Equipment’s, Agricultural Equipment’s and other lucrative businesses which you can advice on as you will assist me to handle it. I will give you all the details you need to know regarding this transaction. It is 100% legal and risk free.

Please reply with your direct phone number.

Thanks and God bless you.

Mr Joy Clay

Inspired by the hilarious exploits of comedian James Veitch, our brave co-founder decided to reply to the spammer with the message “That sounds fantastic! How much money are we talking about?” This is when things started to go south for our co-founder.

Every email account on her iPhone (there were many of them!) became unresponsive. Her iPhone displayed the message “The following accounts have errors:” and then proceeded to list the accounts. Sending and receiving email became impossible, immediately after responding to the spammer. What happened? While we are not entirely sure, but one unpleasant-to-contemplate possibility is keystroke logging.

Our co-founder had to spend the rest of the evening resetting and re-installing her iPhone…another pain-in-the-tech!

Lessons Learned

Listen kids, this is an easy lesson learned the hard way: Don’t respond to spam email! If ever you receive an email and you are even slightly unsure of who the sender is:

  1. Do NOT open any attachments on the email
  2. Do NOT click on any links in the email
  3. Do NOT even reply to the email…lest your device become unresponsive!

Simon Ree, for Empire Code

About Empire Code

Empire Code was founded in 2016 as a coding education center. As of 2018, we have expanded within the tech industry and now comprise of Empire Code Education, Empire Code Launchpad and Empire Code Loves Back. To launch in 2019, we have Empire Code Software. For Additional Information contact us on sg@empirecode.co

https://www.empirecode.co/

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