Fake e-cards highlight of awareness warnings

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An old cyber trick -- which involves someone sending a fake greeting card e-mail notification to gain access to your e-mail address book -- is one of several dangers computer users are being warned about during National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Damon Armour: IT security officer at Augusta State is warning computer users of cyber tricks.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Damon Armour: IT security officer at Augusta State is warning computer users of cyber tricks.

"Everyone wants to get a Hallmark card. You see there's an attachment and it looks just like it's from Hallmark," said Damon Armour, the IT security officer for Augusta State University, which is participating in the effort.

Mr. Armour said the attachment is laced with a virus that attacks e-mail address books and sends the same message to everyone listed as contacts. This sort of cyber trick becomes more prevalent when holidays approach because a person might be expecting an e-card.

"Hallmark never sends attachments. It's always a link," he said.

Cyber Security Awareness Month started in 2004 by the National Cyber Security Alliance. It was later adopted by the Department of Homeland Security to help people better protect their identities and stop phishing schemes and malicious software.

Mr. Armour said Augusta State officials sent out campus-wide e-mails and posted a notice on the university's Web site.

Besides the Hallmark scam, he's also seen phishing -- a term used for an e-mail that looks to be legitimate and asks for someone's user name and password on a particular e-mail account. Many times, he said, the person poses as the Web mail administrator.

"Once they get those credentials ... they'll use that account to send out spam messages (using your e-mail) ... We would never ask for anyone's credentials through e-mail," he said.

If an e-mail account is compromised, it could cause a provider to disable an account until a person proves he isn't sending out the spam, Mr. Armour said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Awareness Month

Damon Armour , IT security officer for Augusta State University, said these are some things to watch out for during National Cyber Security Awareness Month:

- Hallmark scam: Person gets an e-mail with an attachment that purports to be an e-card. Mr. Armour says Hallmark only sends links, not attachments.

- Phising: When a person seeks personal information about an e-mail account. Mr. Armour says sometimes phisers pose as Internal Revenue Service agents.

- Social networking: He said people on MySpace or Facebook have a false sense of security and offer too much personal information such as birthdays and addresses.

- Viruses: Mr. Armour recommends a backup for stored information. Many times, he said, data must be wiped clean if a virus disables your a computer.

For more information, visit staysafeonline.org/ncsam.

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