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Email: Beware the Spear Phishers

You may have seen that a new Trojan horse virus has hit the Monster recruiting site. As Hiawatha Bray reported in the WSJ.com: “The attack on Monster Worldwide Inc., a New York company with its operations centre in Maynard, was apparently intended to acquire millions of email addresses of Monster users. These could then be targeted by phony phishing messages appearing to come from Monster. Because the recipients already had dealings with Monster, they would be more likely to follow the instructions in the messages. It’s called “spear-phishing,” the careful targeting of phishing messages to those most likely to be fooled by them.” He went on to say that “The scam was first reported by researchers at computer security firm Symantec Inc. The company discovered a new “Trojan horse” program infecting hundreds of computers on the Internet. Machines infected with the program would log on to Monster, using legitimate passwords belonging to companies that use Monster to hire new workers. Investigators don’t yet know how the data thieves obtained those passwords. But the Trojan program would use them to collect personal data from resumes at the site and forward it to a computer in Russia belonging to a Ukrainian firm.” What should you do? First be very careful of any email that reputedly comes from Monster. Check the email address carefully; even go so far as to NOT open it, even if all seems well. You might read more at the WSJ.com, TechTarget, and the Symantec Security response web blog, which had these words of advice: “To protect your identity when using recruitment sites, or at least limit your exposure to identity theft, you should limit the contact information you post on these sites, use a separate disposable email address and never disclose sensitive details such as your Social Security number, passport or driver’s license numbers, bank account information, etc to prospective employers until you have established they are legitimate.” Or to paraphrase an old TV show line, with the Internet, “Be careful out there.”

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