Security threats and protection against them » Frauds


E-mail is used for various fraud attempts. Phishing is becoming one of the most significant information security threats to private persons.

The following describes some of the most common scams.


Fabricated e-mail messages and network services can be used for gaining access to personal or company data. Such deceitful acquisition of information is called phishing. For instance, an e-mail may include an authentic-looking questionnaire in which the respondent is asked to submit usernames, passwords or other personal data in order to use the service. Trustworthy companies never ask their customers to submit or update information through e-mail. Never reply to such scam messages or click on links included in them.

Chain letter

Chain letters, or circular letters, overload e-mail systems and resemble virus hoaxes. The letters usually promise happiness, success, fame and glory if you instantly forward the message to a certain number of people.

"The Nigerian Letter"

This type of fraudulent e-mail promises you lots of money if you first transfer a "nominal" sum of money to the sender's bank account for covering taxes or costs from transferring the promised money. The message recipient will never see the promised riches. Victims are usually approached through e-mail, but occasionally also through fax or even regular mail.

It is best to delete all circular letters and messages in which the sender begs for money.

Modem hijacking or dialer hijacking

Modem hijacking refers to a situation where a program downloaded unintentionally from the Internet changes the settings of a computer that uses a modem and a dial-up connection. The connection is no longer formed to the dial-up sequence of the user's operator but to some other server, with high minute rates. Programs that are used for modem hijacking are usually files ending with .EXE.

You have reason to suspect modem hijacking if the window asking for username and password looks completely different or if the modem connection phone number has changed to something else than the dial-up sequence of your own operator. The connection can also become slower than before.

If you suspect that your modem has been hijacked, remove the suspicious program or contact the technical support of your operator. The sooner you act, the better, because long-term use may cause an enormous telephone bill.

You can prevent modem hijacking by acquiring a suitable free-of-charge call barring service for the dial-up connection or with security software that includes a feature that controls the numbers the modem dials.

Remember common sense!

Regard strangers and tempting propositions on the Internet as you would in the real world. A little suspicion is always sensible.