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Protect your computer and identity

Ken Kleinlein

Ken Klein­lein

By Ken Kleinlein

Crime Scene

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – U.S. Navy Com­man­der Tom Swep­ston of Engle­wood was con­tacted by a friend in Ohio. She received a phone call from a female clam­ing to rep­re­sent Microsoft who told her that her com­puter was the vic­tim of a mal­ware  inva­sion. The scam­mer requested that she to go to her com­puter and pro­vide the computer’s ser­ial num­bers in order to remove the mal­ware. She refused and hung up.

Venice res­i­dent Fran­cis Kendrick received a sus­pi­cious con­tact from a Wal­mart imper­son­ator offer­ing rewards and request­ing sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion in order to obtain them. He did not fall for it.

Both are aware of viruses, hack­ers, mal­ware, unwanted adver­tise­ments, scams that appear to be fish­ing for sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, and con­tacts that could infect their com­put­ers. They ask if there is any way to pre­vent such contacts.

I under­stand their con­cern, espe­cially after the recent hack­ing of  U.S. gov­ern­ment records that dis­closed the names and infor­ma­tion of thou­sands of fed­eral employ­ees, leav­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to the pos­si­bil­ity of  iden­tity theft.

Not hav­ing a Ph.D in com­puter con­cepts, I con­tacted Englewood’s com­puter guru, George Mar­riott of Busi­ness and Com­puter Solu­tions (941 474‑3177), and posed the ques­tion to him. Here is his response:

No one is safe. Absolutely no one is safe using the Inter­net, period. If they can get to the IRS, FBI, law enforce­ment, Tar­get, Home Depot, Wal­mart … well, you get the idea!

The num­ber one way is the old tried and true basic method of trick­ing you to open an attach­ment or visit a mali­cious web­site by click­ing on an email link. Many of these come to you not from strangers, but from your friends and fam­ily who, unknown to them have an infec­tion and pass it on to you.

Bot­tom line, do not trust attach­ments and espe­cially all those ‘for­wards,’ mostly jokes that con­tain pic­tures and images and/or links to other web sites. Viruses can hide in pic­tures, which need only to be viewed to infect. That’s why your email pro­gram hides images.

One of the newer meth­ods involves a warn­ing mes­sage instruct­ing the user to call for help, many times mas­querad­ing as a legit­i­mate com­pany like Microsoft or Apple. They’ll tell you that you have infec­tions and ask you to give over con­trol to their ‘tech.’ Best advice, never call the num­ber, you may trig­ger a mal­ware infec­tion and need to have it removed. Until it is cleaned off your com­puter, the mes­sage will never go away.

I am hear­ing reports that Apple users are get­ting these infec­tions. It infects their Opera browser. How­ever, as the mal­ware is intended mainly for Win­dows users, the Apple user could see a mes­sage to call Microsoft.

So how can I not get infected? Be very care­ful about what you are click­ing on. Just because it says it’s from Uncle Bob, that ‘from line’ can be hacked, same way I can send you a let­ter via the post office with Microsoft’s CEO’s name and the return address.”

George Mar­riott has been an IT con­sul­tant on Florida’s Sun Coast since 1989, pro­vid­ing solu­tions for busi­nesses and residences.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion on this sub­ject, check out the Sylint Group.

Good police work by the SCSO and the VPD

The Sara­sota County Sheriff’s Office  arrested a North Port man in an inves­ti­ga­tion sparked by his exces­sive pawn his­tory over the past months. Sur­veil­lance on Jesse Smith, 31, 4319 But­ter­fly Lane, showed he had pawned 103 items since March. Smith has more than a dozen prior arrests for crimes includ­ing bur­glary and deal­ing in stolen prop­erty. He was released from prison just last year.

He admit­ted steal­ing a TV from an unoc­cu­pied condo in Venice located near his job site. The Venice Police Depart­ment responded to the scene and it was deter­mined Smith entered through an unlocked slid­ing door. Smith is charged with three counts of deal­ing in stolen prop­erty, and three counts of pro­vid­ing false own­er­ship infor­ma­tion to a pawn broker.

Take care, be care­ful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.

God bless and pro­tect our mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment offi­cers, and fire fighters.

Ken Klein­lein is a for­mer detec­tive with the NYPD spe­cial frauds squad, coor­di­nat­ing with local, state, and fed­eral law enforce­ment, along with cer­ti­fied secu­rity firms, on mat­ters of crime pre­ven­tion and pub­lic information

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