If you have yet to receive an email from a friend asking you to buy a gift card for them because they’re sick and can’t get out, count yourself lucky. I fell for just such a scam a year ago, and I feel deeply humbled by my gullibility. I did not follow all the directions, though, so instead of handing the card off to a “friend of a friend,” as directed, I said I’d take it to the concierge of her apartment building. That foiled the scammers, but I learned that such cards are not returnable. I’m out the amount of the card (still hoping to give it to someone), but a little older and wiser.
Today, I got a call from a friend who got a ransomware message that bad guys had taken control of her passwords and wanted $2000 for their safe return. It’s hard to tell if they had actually hijacked them or were just hoping she was gullible enough to send them two grand. She was not, and good for her. She reported the scam to AARP Fraud Watch using their scam alert hotline: 1 (877) 908-3360
She also talked to Apple tech support where she learned that she can send reports to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a ton of “strong feelings” about all of this hacker craziness! On a good day, our tech toys are just not fair to old people. Just as our faculties are failing us, things get more complicated every day. It’s hard to keep up with the good stuff, the things we want to do such as take pictures with our phones and send them to friends, or send an email to a small group of friends, schedule a Zoom chat, or just maybe order something online, deposit a check without going to the bank, or make a reservation for a mini-vacation. We appreciate a lot of these new conveniences. But when the price of these good things is being inundated with scams on an almost daily basis, it really takes away the thrill of it all.
Major cybercrime is a huge problem for governments and any sizable organization. It’s hard to stay ahead of the hackers, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if WW III is totally unlike any prior conflict. Cyber warfare might be just the thing to make nuclear weapons obsolete. A very talented enemy might be able to bring an adversary to their knees without firing a rifle much less dropping a nuclear bomb. Remember the ransomware attack on a southern pipeline not all that long ago and the lengthy inconvenience it caused? Hospitals have been attacked, banks, the military, our state unemployment office. Not fun. Not funny.
Beware, my friends! Covid is lurking, but we have vaccines to help with that. Hackers are lurking too, but there’s not a lot we can do about that except be very cautious online. Trust No One!