That Rumble You Hear…….

It has become a daily chore. After you turn on your computer, you must carefully scan your waiting email messages……….and I emphasize ‘carefully’.

For those who, like me, have something of a ‘love/hate relationship’ with the computer and the internet, your inbox will have a number of messages requiring/demanding your attention.  Some of the messages are from those retired friends who are in Florida or Arizona and a have taken on the responsibility of collecting and distributing jokes, rants, pictures, etc. in between rounds of golf.  While the jokes and rants and pictures are usually the same, these messages are important as they establish those friends’ state of health, that they are ‘still up and taking nourishment’.

Then there is a growing number of messages from people that want to assist in improving your business, that are offering to build your social media presence or redesign your image and your website, promising to elevate your position with the ‘search-engines’ like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Oddly enough, many never include their website and their name or company seldom appears in a search on Google, Yahoo, etc.

Another fast growing group that fills up the inboxes are the Phishers.  These appear in a variety of forms ranging from legitimate looking requests from legitimate-appearing companies, many that you deal with every day. Others appear to be messages from many people that you know with a simple message like, “I thought you’d like to see this,” with a link.

The latter, those messages that appear to be from someone you know, usually mean that their computer system has been compromised and the phishers have gotten access to their computer’s address book. Now they are trying to do the same thing to you.  And once they do, aside from continuing the ‘phishing daisy-chain’, they gain access to a lot of the unprotected data on your computer.  Do you regularly change your passwords for stuff like online banking, credit cards, etc?

Just while assembling this rant, I happened upon a little bit of interesting, yet frightening, information.  According to information from Microsoft that was released in 2014, the worldwide impact of phishing could be as high as $5-billion(US).  That was four years ago! That number has likely more than doubled by now.

Based on the ratio of legitimate email to scams, it is no wonder that more and more people, especially agents, brokers, consultants, etc. whose personal email addresses are readily available on the internet, are choosing to adopt a second, more private email address.

And as soon as you think that you’ve ‘cleaned up’ your inbox, the telephone starts.  Telemarketing, questionable surveys, threats from the tax man, credit card companies, banks, etc. claiming that they are owed money. As odd as it may seem, they want to be paid in music downloads.  In addition, every so often I still hear from ‘my friend in Nigeria’ who still needs help to get his late uncle’s money out of the country. As a result of the abuse of the phone system, far too many people are depending on ‘call display’ and ‘voice mail’ to pick and choose the calls they’ll take.

Yes, we are living in a computer dominated period.  Our lives, our businesses and the majority of our social interaction/communications are via computer, cellphone, texting, Facebook, etc.  Obviously, computers, their features and their uses have exploded in a very short period of time.  Unfortunately, those features, and the gizmos are appearing faster than we, the users, are adapting. And unfortunately, for each new feature, app, security, etc. for the computer and the smartphone, that we all must have by the way, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of techies coming up with ways to corrupt it.

Perhaps the late actor Michael Conrad said it best in his portrayal of veteran New York cop Sgt Phil Esterhaus on the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.”  And that loud rumble that you hear every now and then?  That Alexander Graham Bell spinning in his grave after seeing how his invention is being use…………….WP