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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Digital salmons, phishers waiting

Neha Verma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 17, 2014
First Published: 09:45 IST(17/7/2014) | Last Updated: 14:07 IST(21/7/2014)

Holy Moses! I nearly jumped out of my chair in delight when I saw my mobile phone flashing an incoming call from one of my cousins, Ms Foolhardy, who had not called up in a long time. But any hope of a forthcoming gossip session evaporated as soon as I heard her voice, which was so low that I bet her forehead must be creased.

I asked her enthusiastically how her first job, that too at a multinational corporation in Gurgaon, was going. Hired from campus, she sure must be savouring all the company benefits and perks gleefully, I teased her. However, her pitch sank further, and she gave it to me after much coaxing and persuasion how she had ruined her professional image and credibility in just the first two months at office.

The company-provided laptop computer to keep tabs on her work had broken down because of her negligence. One day in office, as she sneaked some timeout and logged into her personal email account, she was surprised to find a lengthy message from one of her schoolmates based in Dubai, whom she had befriended on Facebook a few days ago. She could not resist replying but first she downloaded the enclosed email attachments that claimed to be her friend’s latest pictures.

Within minutes, the device started malfunctioning and crashed finally. Sobbing, she shared with me how her furious manager had come rushing to her desk and scolded her in front of her teammates, courtesy a vulgar and uncivil email she had received from my cousin’s official email account. A malware in spam had replicated her contacts and sent uncouth messages forward, at the expense of her reputation.

Adding to her troubles was a “warning mail” from the human resource department, accusing her of misusing the company’s inventory. As she narrated this story over telephone, I could sense her anger and remorse that she had walked into the trap of a professional phisher.

I consoled her and counselled her on the importance of these lessons of life. Thankfully, the phisher had not asked for her personal details, or the damage could have been irreparable. I was shocked to know how the cunning companies that tail our online searches also lay alluring emails as bait.

I battle with junk email every weekend when someone from a Gulf country confides in me to share a million-dollar business; a woman from Africa seeks my help to transfer money that her late husband had left in an Indian bank account, or an offshore company offers me a job with unimaginable perks in dollars, besides chauffeur, accommodation and what not. Being a Netizen for long, I treat all these offers with humility and consign these to the trash folder.

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