EVEN JESUS’ RELATIVES
ARE NOT SCAM-FREE
Today’s high-tech pirates will use anything in their nefarious schemes. I’ve discovered that some bad characters are using my novel about the family of Jesus.
If you should stumble onto an alleged free book site designated “ePm.eBook,” that displays the cover of my novel, do not — repeat, DO NOT! — click on any of the links or buttons. You won’t get a free copy of MY BROTHER’S KEEPER.
What you will get is malware that can foul up your computer or co-opt it for some unknown wicked purpose.
I suppose, in a perverted sort of way, this is a testament to my book’s appeal. But I hate to think of playing even an innocent part in causing harm.
When I discovered the “ePm.eBook” site, I contacted my eBook distributer. A tech-support agent advised…
“This is not a legitimate outlet. It’s an automatically generated page created by internet trolls using publicly available information off of Amazon or other sites. They don’t actually have the book, they just put up a ‘free download’ button to trick people into clicking download and inviting all sorts of malware and viruses onto their computer. Your best bet for combating this is to report them to Google and have them remove it from their search indexes.”
I’m doing that. But “ePm.eBook” or some other version of this scam will likely just pop up under a different name, and my book could appear again.
So be careful.
While there’s nothing new about swindles, thievery or vandalism, it’s interesting to observe how human perfidy has flowered in the digital age. Neither business nor government seems able to keep ahead of the scammers. Whatever security measures get put into place, clever nerds are soon able to circumvent them.
Those little RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips added to your credit cards were supposed to outfox the data skimming devices bad guys surreptitiously hold up to your purse or wallet pocket. But while many stores are still only getting around to installing card readers equipped with RFID, as far back as 2009, a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was able to…
“construct scanners capable of skimming both the cardholder name and card number from a variety of first-generation RFID credit cards. Then they found a way to transmit that data back to a card reader, tricking it into accepting a ‘purchase.’”
In reporting this security breach, Popular Mechanics suggested a decidedly low-tech counter-measure…
“You can try the old tinfoil-in-the-wallet trick, or you can get a wallet lined with nickel-impregnated nylon that blocks all RFID transmissions. In our tests, it worked.”
Smartphones are also vulnerable to data theft. Hackers employ a wide variety of cutting-edge technologies to invade your private life via personal communication systems.
Excuse the pun, but bad guys have gone to new heights of creativity. As CNN reported a couple years ago…
“Hackers have developed a drone that can steal the contents of your smartphone — from your location data to your Amazon password….
“The technology equipped on the drone, known as Snoopy, looks for mobile devices with Wi-Fi settings turned on….
“That’s when Snoopy can swoop into action … the drone can send back a signal pretending to be networks you’ve connected to in the past.”
All of which suggests that, despite the information accessibility and convenience by which smart devices enrich modern life, it’s probably best to limit what data you put on them.
But then, I speak from the perspective of someone who uses an especially dumb cell phone. All it does is make phone calls — can you imagine?
Of course, even a plain old telephone can bring scammers, whether via your cell provider, your VOIP online service, or your land line. My wife and I are inundated with questionable robocalls. And it seems there’s always some story about a new and devious phone scam in the news.
For all the dangers we face as individuals, it’s businesses that are the prime targets of digital crime. Our regional utility provider recently had to pay a ransom to regain access to its own data after its computer system was taken over by some shadow entity. At least the pirates gave the information back. That isn’t always the case.
Writing on Pajamas Media, commentator Richard Fernandez noted how companies have begun to…
“push the limits of existing law to consider ways to break into hackers’ networks to retrieve stolen data or even knock computers offline to stop attacks …. Some companies are enlisting cybersecurity firms, many with military or government security ties, to walk them through options for disrupting hacker operations or peering into foreign networks to find out what intellectual property hackers may have stolen.
“In one case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether hackers working on behalf of any U.S. financial institutions disabled servers that were being used by Iran to attack the websites of major banks last year, said two people familiar with the investigation….”
I think it’s just a matter of time until the body of some Russian geek is found folded up and duct-taped inside a carton from an old 21-inch tube monitor. When that happens, a lot of us who spend our lives online will experience a sharp conflict between the Christian imperative of forgiveness and a strong feeling of poetic justice.
As for my novel being displayed on that “ePm.eBook” site…
Buy MY BROTHER’S KEEPER from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any of the numerous other authentic eBook vendors. The prospect of saving $5.99 isn’t worth the risk of venturing into the world of alleged free eBooks.
If you’ll excuse another pun — it could put you in a real book bind.
Click here for more information about
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
along with links to some legitimate
eBook dealers carrying it…
Back in 2004, the UK’s Daily Mail prognosticated dolefully that advances in technology will just bring more cybercrime. It seems they were correct, and there appears to be no end in sight…
An Australian web designer named Jane Norris recently warned that you should ignore requests to “copy and paste” posts on Facebook instead of just sharing them. It seems that copying and pasting makes it easy for scammers to locate prospects for their schemes. As she explained…
“There has been a ‘copy and paste’ post going around recently about animal abuse. As well as the directive to ‘Do not share’ but instead ‘copy and paste’ this, the post contains a key phrase with incorrectly spelt words.
“A person who copies and pastes it can easily be found …
“The potential scammer can now see a long, long list of Facebook users who have copied and pasted the exact message about animal abuse.
“Now they have a target list of people who they can be reasonably sure will react to a new post, a new ‘like’ request, a new friend request, or some other ‘support us’ plea that is related to animal abuse.”
The article enumerates other risks as well. Give it a read…
Here’s a link to Richard Fernandez’s interesting essay on Pajamas Media, that touches on (among other things) private retaliation against hackers.
Jason Bourne, call your office…