The “Perfect” Phishing Email

A few years ago one of my sisters forwarded me an email to ask me if it was legitimate. The email claimed she had won a lottery she did not remember even playing. The email was instructing her to follow a few simple steps to claim her prize. Obviously, I responded and told her to forget about it. It was a classic scam.

Today’s cyber criminals are much more sophisticated. As much as developers leverage modern technologies to create more secure applications, cyber criminals do the same to swindle their victims. Phishing is one of the easiest forms of gaining access to the login credentials of an unsuspecting user. It consists of sending fraudulent emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce recipients to divulge personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers.

One phishing email came through my inbox today and it was so well crafted that I decided to showcase it. It has all the elements to be the perfect phishing email. Below is a screenshot of the phishing email. Below, I explain what you can look out for to help you in assessing that this is a phishing email.

Here are the red flags that make the email suspicious:
A. The email is sent from mailbox.com but the sender is speedataweb.com
B. Moving the mouse over the link reveals (at the bottom of the page – destination preview) that the destination is not the link in blue.
C. The Google Team would never send out an email signing with a different domain. 
D. Mail Systems Incorporated is not related to Google nor Speedataweb.com. How are they the ones sending that email?

Besides those red flags, the email is actually well crafted. It refers to a specific problem and creates a sense of urgency by providing a deadline to act by, along with consequences if nothing is done.

The goal of that phishing email is to trick you into providing your account username and password into a fake login form. I must say that Google does a good job of detecting and alerting user of potential phishing login pages. Thank you, Google. You take a lot from us, but you also give a lot. 🙂

If you receive an email that looks suspicious, there is a directory of phishing scams you can visit and see if it already catalogued there: https://scam.directory/niche/phishing.

If it looks or feels fishy, it is probably phishing. Don’t let the “almost” perfect phishing email trick you. 

Step into Your Greatness

Here are notes from watching the Step into Your Greatness talk by Les Brown published by BetterLifeMedia.

  • Most people fail in life because they aim too low and hit.
  • Make the committment first and figure out how later.
  • It’s not what you leave to your children, it’s what you leave in your children that matters.
  • Speaking is a projection of who you are, not who you think you ought to be. 
  • It’s not what you don’t have, it’s what you think you need that prevents you from being successful.
  • When the dream is big enough, the odds don’t matter.
  • It’s OK to fail your way to success.
  • Make no and rejection your vitamins. Every NO brings you closer to a YES.
  • You must be willing to do the things today others won’t do, in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.

That’s about it. Great timeless words of wisdom delivered by a master communicator. Thank you, Les!

Who’s watching your blind spots?

During my graduate school days I once developed the habit of exercising (few push ups and jumping jacks) throughout the day. I was having class in the evening at school and sometimes I would go straight from work to school. The exercise was mild, and I did not usually break a sweat since it was just designed to keep blood flowing through me and prevent me from getting too stiff staring a the computer screen the whole day. Since the exercise was mild, I didn’t ever feel the need to take a shower or freshen up before getting to school from work. 

I never realized how stinky I was until one day a close friend approached me, drew me to a corner and said:
Friend: Lionnel may I tell you something?
Me: Yes, go ahead.
Friend: Are you coming from the gym?
Me: No. Why?
Friend: It’s as if you forgot to take a shower. You stink.
Me: Is it that bad?
Friend: I could perceive it so what do you think?
Me: Thank you for letting me know. Now I don’t feel like going up to class anymore.
Friend: Don’t worry, let’s go to class. Just make sure you don’t hug anyone else and you take a shower next time.

I could not smell my own stinkyness. That was a blind spot. Something I was too close too to realize it could be a problem to others around me. I felt horrible when I realized I was so stinky that the smell was a nuisance to others around me. At the same time I felt grateful that there was someone who cared enough about me to draw my attention to something I was responsible for that was not good for me and for those around me.

None of us are perfect beings, and in our imperfection, we all need someone around us to watch our blind spots for us. And to care enough to let us know when there are things we might be doing that are potentially detrimental to us. It could be anyone from the circle of people we associate with: friends, family, colleagues and even acquaintances.

Who is watching your blind spots?

The Biggest Waste of Energy in Your Life

Among the host of negative emotions that drain our energy is one that you would do well to become aware of and drain out of your life. As I was listening to an audio recording of Earl Nightingale this morning, he reminded me that if we could see all our “problems” in their true light, we would not be blinded by them. That’s the biggest waste of energy in our lives, worry. 

A worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems. The keys in that definition are “actual” or “potential.” Are you anxious or uncertain about something that already happened or something that you are afraid will happen. If it has not yet happened, why consider its possibility? If it has already happened, should you be worried about something you can do something about? No, because you can just go ahead and do what you can do about it. Should you be worried about something you can do nothing about? No, because there is nothing you can do about it anyway.

As per Earl Nightingale’s account, of all the things we worry about: 

  • 40% never happen.
  • 30% are over or in the past and nothing can be done about it anyway.
  • 12% are about our state of health (hypochondriacal).
  • 10% are just petty and needless worries.
  • 8% are legitimate concerns we can do something about.

A whopping 92% of all our worries are complete waste of energy. Of 10 thoughts or concerns we have, just about 1 is justifiable. How do you find out that 1 out of the 10? You assume the best always, and for the thing that really might be frightening, put them in perspective. How do you put things and situation in perspective?

You ask yourself the following questions in that order:

  • Is this something that should have my full attention? If yes, why?
  • Will this matter situation matter in a few hours, days, weeks, or years?
  • What can I do (if anything) to change this situation?
  • If I can’t do anything or I choose to do nothing, what are the consequences I have to face and am I okay with that?

Worrying makes everything look worse than it is. Put things in perspective. Face all the unpleasant or difficult situations that present themselves in your life with grace and serenity. Always believe that ultimately, things will workout to your advantage, and they will.