We have all been there!
I was carefully applying the sugar frosting onto the mouth-watering blueberry cheesecake to offer it a creamy texture. It was the result of organizing best tips from a minimum of ten recipes on YouTube, when suddenly I heard a yell- “Mom!”
I left everything as is (leading to extra frosting spilling over the cake) and rushed out to the dining room to see that my dear daughter was checking her e-mails on her laptop. I see everything was ok with the child so heaving a sigh of relief, asked her, “What is it dear? Any unexpected news? You did scream at the top of your lungs to call me out here?”
“Look at my inbox, Mom! I have 50 unread mails, 50… from XYZ bank!”
One look at the inbox and yes, it was indeed strange, or rather this is SPAM- I thought out loud.
My daughter continued, “This one here says the first 50 people to fill up the attached form stand a chance of winning a prepaid credit card of Rs 50,000!! Shall I click and check? I won’t share any personal details, promise.”
“Woah! Don’t even go there little lady. Just think, why should anyone give away such gifts? What do I always tell you?”
The little lady timidly replies, “That there are no free lunches. So I will mark all these unsolicited mails as junk and delete them.”
And then, I just remembered that my excellent blueberry cheesecake is now ruined due to this trail of spam mails.
Like I said earlier, we all have been there. Unsolicited and often suspicious mails pop up in our mail boxes and this is something all parents want to help their kids out with but we too may be unsure whether the mail is genuine or intended to steal our personal data online. Fear not! Here’s a quick refresher on spam so that you and your children can all stay safe online.
Question no. 1: What is ‘Spam’?
According to Intel Security, “Spam is an email message sent to multiple recipients who did not ask to receive it. Email messages are not considered spam if a user has signed up to receive them or if they come from a trusted source.”
Question no. 2: Why do people send spam?
Well, it could be for any of these reasons:
- To sell products
- To phish for information with an intent to exploit
- Send malware
- To lure people to inappropriate sites
Question no. 3: What are the most popular types of scams or frauds initiated via spam mails:
- Employment offers, especially the work from home types
- Lottery, remittance of large sums from abroad or quick money-making
- Mails purportedly from your bank, other financial institutions and government authorities directing you to other sites or asking you to download attachments to verify details
- Dating site scams wherein unsuspecting users are emotionally blackmailed to part with money
- E-tailer scams: mails from online sellers that ask for more money to ship products (usually expensive)
- Education offers, especially abroad
The next step is learning to identify possible Spamming techniques by looking out for the following:
- Check sender’s address – Do you know the sender? Does the email id look fabricated?- Hmm, suspicious
- Spelling – Spam mails are often grammatically incorrect
- Tone – The tone of the mail is general, not personal E.g.: It will address you as Dear Customer and not by your first name – Hmm, suspicious
- Attachments – Does it contain a link to other sites or .exe files? – Definitely suspicious
- Update details – Is it from your bank or credit card company, asking you to update details or verify password? – Strongly suspicious
- Lure – Is it about a free gift, lottery, windfall gain, and easy money-making schemes? – Definitely suspicious
Now how do you play Superhero and create a safety shield around your family’s online life?
- Ensure your Spam filter is turned on
- Teach kids how to mark mail as spam so in the future these are automatically directed to the spam folder
- If the child has unwittingly subscribed to some newsletter, show them how to unsubscribe to stop the flood of unwanted mails
- Spam has even grown beyond traditional tactics to spread on Google alerts, websites and even social media so remember to think before your click and as we always say: STOP.THINK.CONNECT.
- Help make the internet a safer place by reporting such suspicious sites. You can find Google’s spam reporting tool here
- And the most important of all, use reputable comprehensive security tools on all devices to keep your family safe online. That’s what parents do best, look out for their young ones.
Stay safe online folks!!