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Spoofing Revisited

Earlier this year I wrote about “hacking” and “spoofing.” In light of the number of calls I’ve gotten about this subject — and the number of spoofed emails I’ve received lately — I thought it might be helpful to re-print some of that information.

The bottom line: spoofing is annoying but not dangerous.

Ever receive an email from a friend you know didn’t send it? The message contained an ominous looking link, or the email’s content was for products you know your friend would not be soliciting. It’s called “spoofing.”

Spoofing is annoying. It may feel like an invasion of privacy, but in the world of internet invasions, it is relatively benign. It is not hacking.

Hacking is illegally getting your password and actively gaining access to — and possibly compromising — your accounts.

Spoofing is an automated “robot” picking up your email address and placing it in the “From” field of its own email. It enters some content, and sends the email to the addresses in your contact list. It is not actually targeting you personally.

That said, it is still uncomfortable.

If you suspect that your email account has been spoofed (you’ll know because you get an email from yourself, or fifty friends contact you about a strange email they got from you), check your “Sent” folder for emails that you didn’t send. If you see any, you should change your email password immediately. This will lock out the unauthorized “robot” and re-secure your account, at least for the time being.

Of course, if you change your email password on your computer, be sure that you change it on your smartphone and your tablet too.

I can’t tell you here how to change your email password — each email service handles it differently — but you can Google your service (AOL, Gmail, Comcast, Bellsouth, etc.) for directions.

If you receive a spoofed email, delete it. If you don’t recognize it as a spoofed email and you open it, don’t click on the link contained in the email. If you do click on the link, you will probably be taken to a site that offers you a way to “make $1,000/day working from home,” or something equally implausible. These links are usually harmless but best to delete them rather than click them.

Grandparents Win!

Parents used to take pictures of their kids, get the film developed, and mail the prints to the grandparents who promptly displayed them on the refrigerator.

Then parents took digital pictures and sent them to the grandparents electronically, requiring the grandparents to have computers and email, and know how to download, save, and print the pictures — if they wanted to display them on the refrigerator. Lots of work.

New printer technology allows anyone to email a picture (or document) directly to a specific printer. Parents can still send pictures electronically, but — eureka(!) — the pictures go directly to the grandparents’ printer and come out on photo paper! Much easier.

Everyone is happy.

How does this work? The ability rests with the printer itself. Newer printers have this feature but older printers do not.

  • For HP printers, the feature is called “eprint.”
  • For Epson printers, the feature is called “email print.”
  • For Kodak printers, the feature is called “Kodak email print.”

(I was not able to find this feature in Canon or Lexmark printers.)

If your new printer has this feature, follow the printer’s instructions to set up your printer’s unique email address. Then fill the photo paper tray with 4″x6″ photo paper and give that address to those who might send you pictures.

Your refrigerator door will be a photo gallery in no time.

The Game is “On”

Three times this past week I was asked the same question about uploading pictures from a digital camera into a computer: “How come it doesn’t work?”

There are usually a number of answers to this question, depending on each person’s particular issue. However, this week, the answer was the same each time.

You need to turn the camera on.

“Really? That’s it?”

Yes. Well, that’s the first step anyway.

When you connect the camera to the computer using the cord that came with your camera, nothing will happen unless you turn the camera on. Only then will the computer read what is stored in the camera and allow you to transfer one or more images. Sounds simple but it is often overlooked.

The cord is not the only way to transfer images from your camera to your computer, however. You can also take the camera card out of the camera and plug it into the computer directly (if the computer has the correct slot) or into a card reader adapter.

But if you use the cord, don’t forget to turn the camera on. It’s a lot easier that way!

A Cloudy Day?

Are you afraid to store information in the Cloud?

Your friends and relatives wirelessly sync their contacts, calendars, and pictures among their devices. Others back up their data to a remote storage site. And you are just not sure. Should you be in the Cloud?

Well, guess what? You already are. This email is stored in the Cloud. All email is.

Let me explain.

Cloud computing allows you to store your data on the Internet — rather than locally in your computer — so you can access it from anywhere. Email has always been in the Cloud. While your email appears to be in your computer, it is really stored in the server of your email provider (Comcast, Bellsouth, Gmail, AOL, etc.); you use your computer to access your account. This explains why you can read your email from any device with an Internet connection.

Choosing to back up your data to the Cloud is the same concept: storing your information in cyberspace so it is accessible from any computer. This is helpful if you need to access your data and you are not near your computer, or if you need to restore your data to a new computer.

The future of Cloud computing is to incorporate software programs so they, too, will be accessible from the Internet rather than stored on your computer. Instead of purchasing and installing Microsoft Word, for example, you will pay a monthly fee to access it on the Internet and create and store your Word documents in cyberspace. Adobe is already offering this service for their high-end design programs. Others will follow.

Please note that Cloud computing is similar to, but not the same as, Apple’s iCloud. iCloud is Apple’s name for their wireless syncing program. You can use iCloud to wirelessly share information among your Apple devices (and some Windows devices). This information is shared through the Cloud, but iCloud is the specific software used by Apple to set up this sharing function.

I hope this clears up any confusion — and doesn’t make it more “cloudy”!