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Time to retire and get off the grid

September 1, 2019
Chuck Hunt - Register Editor (chunt@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

I think if I ever retire, I may have to go live in my camper and be off the grid.

Of course, I would need a camper both in Minnesota and one somewhere warm for the winter.

The reason for thinking about going and living off the grid is that last Tuesday at the Blue Earth Kiwanis Club meeting, I got a pretty bad scare.

I wasn't the only one. Others were equally as scared as I was.

And, it is still two months away from Halloween.

What scared us was our program, which was a presentation by Midwest IT and was all about how people individuals and businesses get scammed.

Most of it had to do with the scammers going phishing. That is a word which means they are sending out lots of baited emails and seeing who they can get to bite.

The problem is, people do bite on this bait.

They look like regular emails, and they sure seem to come from legitimate places like the IRS, or Google, or Microsoft, or, well you get the idea.

The email says you have to verify information, which can include your social security number or your passwords.

Sometimes there are threats in the emails, like having one from the IRS which says final notice. Or another one that says you will lose all of your data if you don't respond.

I have received one (well, I have gotten it several times actually) telling me my email account has been hacked and I need to reset my information and password.

The problem, of course, is that the person telling me my email has been hacked is actually the person who is really trying to hack into my email.

Or, hack into my overall computer.

There is malware, which is software that will sit inside your computer and send all your valuable information to the hacker who placed the malware inside your computer.

The answer, of course, is to not answer these emails. Do not click on the link to their website. And do not, ever, ever, ever, send out any personal information whatsoever to anyone you don't know.

That is easier said than done, I realize. Especially for senior citizens, who often times seem to be the primary target of these dirt bags.

Unfortunately, these cyber criminals who do all this phishing have a success rate, albeit small. But, these successes all add up.

A Blue Earth business got hacked into and the hacker stole all kinds of passwords and codes and bank account numbers, and, well, you get the idea.

The business didn't even know it had been hacked into, until someone tried to do a $200,000 money wire transfer out of their account. The scammers almost succeeded, but luckily the business was able to get their money returned before it left the country.

If you watched 60 Minutes last Sunday night you would have gotten another big scare.

They featured a story about RansomWare. Ever heard of it?

With this virus program scammers break into the computers and servers of businesses and even city governments and lock up the whole system. They then demand a ransom be paid if the business or city wants the key to unlock the system.

Often times the ransom demand is $55,000. They could ask for millions, perhaps, but the scammers have found that most businesses and cities are more prone to paying the $55,000 without much of a problem.

The 60 Minutes crew even learned that you can find RansomWare on the Internet that you can rent you don't have to write one line of computer code yourself.

The fear is that RansomWare is so easy to get that more and more of those nasty scammers will start using it and will even go after individuals and their computers and maybe even all those smart phones out there in the world.

Which begs the question, what is wrong with these people? Why are there so many of these idiots out there in the world?

So you can see why I am scared. I figure it is just a matter of time before some morning, when I have not had enough coffee to wake up, and I am sorting my hundred or so emails I get each day, I am going to stupidly respond or put my mouse arrow over a bad link and accidently click on it.

There is only one way to prevent this from happening. And it is not to drink coffee all day to stay alert.

I have to go off the grid. Turn off the computer and never turn it on again. Throw the iPad in the trash. Give my iPhone to some poor sucker who doesn't know it will be hacked someday.

So, I have to retire and go live in my camper. Or campers, plural.

Maybe then I can relax. I might even go phishing. I mean fishing.

 
 

 

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