Monday, March 23, 2009

E-mail Hackers

A few hours back I received an urgent SOS e-mail message supposedly from a colleague of mine in the government. The message had come from her personal hotmail account and was signed her full real name. It read:

"Hello, I am in England for a seminar. I lost my wallet and am in urgent need of money to settle my hotel bill and other things. Can you urgently send me 2000 GB Pounds? When you reply to this mail I'll tell details of how to transfer the money…"

For a moment I thought this was a genuine message. Since the lady was a close friend and a very respectable person, I was thinking of how to send the money as soon as possible. In the process I had a second look at the message. It was then that I noticed two things wrong with it. One, the message simply started with 'hello' without my name. Two, if she was in urgent need of money why didn't she write transfer details in the original message? That would have saved time.

These two things were telltale signs of junk or fraud mail. So I decided to telephone her to see if she was really in the UK. I dialed her home number in Male (not mobile) and she took the phone at the second ring. She was shocked to hear the story.

These days a lot of hackers get into people's accounts and do all sorts of crazy things. One of the commonest ways of doing this is to lure unwary victims to submit e-mail account details to bogus questionnaire forms. Of course there are many new innovations and methods. We can't be too careful.


Anonymous said...

hackers very commonly steal password through msn. They send a messge about some 'revealing' photos or sites. if you fall for it ...

Anonymous said...

Spyware or viruses could do it too.

It can scan emails from the address book and then send out emails to everyone in it.

The address will be scanned by your email client given a name according to your address book.

It probably doesn't need human invasion to hack the emails. And mostly what hackers do to get entry is guess passwords or lure it by being a trustworthy person.

So what we may have here could be bot hackers.

Anonymous said...

these days face booc acconts are also often hacked. wonder how theydo it.

Shiham said...

Its the same story as the orphaned millionair kid who's family is somehow killed. He/she needs an partner from another country (which they target to poor south asian countries such as Maldives) and convincingly they have succeeded with some victims trapped to this. Some of my friends have even send money ($300) by western union for that particular person to buy tickets, not even thinking why would she when there is 10 mil USD sitting on her late fathers accounts and why would she ask money from a guy from an underdeveloped country.

The story and the amount of money is quite appealing, but the minute you think rationally, logically there is 0% probability its a genuine email.

But i have never seen a case like the one you have explained here. Its always foreign email adds that come like this.

PS. these friends i mentioned, some are very pious, some just did not know what a financial transaction is.

Yaamyn said...

It is called Social Engineering.

One can avoid it by NEVER, EVER giving away ones email id and/or password to any unknown websites or suspicious links.

Giving away too many personal details on social networks like facebook lets people gather a lot of information about you, and can allow them to defraud people using your identity.

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