There are about as many ways to fraud people out of their hard-earned money as there are fraudulent scammers themselves. The objective of this multi-part Guide sets out to educate the online community seeking opportunities on the Internet how to avoid online scams – a most insidious class of innocent-looking opportunities that are ravening wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing
An Online Backdrop for Scammers Galore
There is no question about it. The coming of the Internet as we know it today in the mid 1990s was as significant as the invention of the wheel in many ways. Never before has it been possible to access materials from across the globe as we have it today, nor the ease of being able to pull up just about anything imaginable on this true information highway. A little more than 20 years ago as of this writing, it now seems like eons ago when telephones were analog and the infrastructure was purely solid state at best, but as yet, vastly mechanical.
Unfortunately, as has been the case with any other major development, the Internet has become yet another platform to be riddled with crime and fraudulent activity in ways never imagined. Indeed, the technology behind the Internet escapes the wary eye of the average consumer who uses the Internet, putting him in vulnerable positions on grand scales. Whilst the technical aspects of the Internet is often too steep for most, recognizing fraudulent activity doesn’t have to be, even though some of it involves this technology to work.
The Coat of Many Colours Worn By Online Scammers
In the early days of the Internet, online scam was fairly limited but a fast-growing “industry” in its right. Email was amongst the earliest platforms upon which notorious and unscrupulous marketers sought out ways to defraud unwary opportunity-seekers and general consumers. Just as we have it today, outgoing links found in the electronic documents were easily dressed to look legitimate and worthy of trust, and in these early days, thousands of frontier users of the new platforms glavanted off in what was to become known as the Wild Wild Web.
Worms, viruses and trojan [horses] came into being as well, and were often passed directly to a victim’s PC at a click of a link, or even the opening of the email itself! Subsequently, the unwanted baggage got transferred from PC to PC via data disks of the time. These disks ultimately became banned in school computer labs and other public facilities such as public libraries. The Coat of Many Colours indeed came into being with the vast variations of such malware as they were in the early days. As one might expect, these early forms of malware were capable of doing serious damage to victims’ data, destroying operating systems and mining sensitive data that allowed access to bank accounts and victims’ ID.
If this Coat of Many Colours was not enough, many new coats were created and implemented, causing havoc far beyond the imagination of most who thought they had seen it all.
World War Web
What was once known as the Wild Wild Web can be best described today as the World War Web – a term I just thought up to describe today’s online struggles. The threats we have today on the Internet can be best described as world-wide, because this is precisely the problem.
Obviously the counter attacks upon the early malware were the DOS-based malware-cleaners such as Norton Utilities. An early version of Avast is shown on the right. Another major suite of such tools was known as McAffee. Just as malware cleaners do today, these early programs scanned the computer for known unwanted destructive programs and then, upon initial command, cleaned, quarrantined or simply deleted the offending software.
The challenges we meet today are far removed from the simplicity of those days. Entire programs are built around the appearances of legitimate programs and even platforms. Legitimate websites can be spoofed and has given rise to an entirely new class of malware known as phishing. Whilst mostly limited email, there are many fake websites out there fitted with snares and traps. Any online application, such as malware scanners and cleaners may come in appearance-only but the underlying links instead, call to the action of their parent servers to do their insidious deeds, not only in doing their dirty work, but being headquarters support for downloaded software-in-distress to call in for replacements to take their place after they have been uninstalled by counter-attacking users who find them.
We must not forget the myriads of malware such as ransomware which has put hospitals, schools, and even entire governments to their knees, in a barage of new threats aimed at horrifying the unwary as the Black Death in that time period.
Modern Conterattacks and The Best Line of Defense
Today the online war on cyber-criminals continue. As it always has been, new strategies must be developed to combat new threats. Old ones must continually be updated and improved. This cat-and-mouse game remains constant and threats never go away because perpetrators operate from other juristictions that place little value on online protection. Some countries simply cannot support such warefare and ignore it. It isn’t any wonder that this is why much of this activity in concentrated forms come from specific regions, though it can be found everywhere.
Lines of defense come largely from the early attempts at eradicating malware, many of such entities today have become super-sized corporations. They employ technology and sophistication that aid in protection never thought to have ever been needed. There are now a wide variety of such suite of tools available, many of which have free editions.
However, the greatest line of defense comes to users in the way of education and knowledge. Recognition of such malware and scam is by far, the best front-line security for any PC, mainsframe or server alike. As would be expected, there are popular methodologies used by many fraudulent workers of iniquity against innocent and unwary online users that with a little bit of education about what these look like and how they are made without needing to know the technology behind them stops would-be attacks in their tracks!
What You Can Expect in This Guide
We can all agree that online threats that come from cyber-criminals and pirates are multi-fold and extremely dangerous. Many lives have been ruined by such scum who sit behind their computers devising ways to build their dastardly campaigns.
There are known pirate dens around that are abundant with a never-ending flow of harmless-looking products, all aimed at appealing to the emotions of their victims and with the use of false advertising, misinformation and outright lies, pull unsuspecting victims into their traps, like flies in a spider’s web.
This series of articles will take you into each phase in the making and appearances of such software. Since it is the advertising campaigns themselves that bring about the damage, it will be the focus of this series. A later series will explore products themselves, what to watch out for and the true nature of said products.