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EONI customers have been receiving emails asking for their EONI account information or other personal identification information.

Please note that all of these emails are fakes. These emails are what is known as "phishing." Phishing is a scam where someone is trying to gain access to your accounts or personal information. There are a number of resources to learn about phishing. The links below offer some good advice and explanations about phishing:

http://www.antiphishing.org/consumer_recs.html

CNET's November 2009 FAQ: Recognizing Phishing E-mails

Example of Bogus Phishing Email Message

While in the past, fraudulent attempts at getting your personal information were mainly aimed at imitating financial organizations (such as banks, PayPal, and similar institutions), these scams appear to be getting more widespread and targeting other companies. EONI and other Internet service providers are seeing a significant rise in these scams aimed at our customers.

Remember, EONI will NEVER ask for your password or other personal information via email. If you are ever in doubt about any communication from EONI about your account, please call us directly at either 962-7873 or our toll free number 1-800-785-7873.

If you have responded to any of the fake phishing emails and provided your password, then please contact us immediately and ask us to assign your account(s) new passwords.


EONI does NOT provide tech support, warranties or guarantees for any third-party software you may download. Any software or solutions suggested on this page have been useful for some people for some purposes, and may be useful to you. Downloading and using such software is entirely your own responsibility.

 

Downloading, installing and configuring security software may be challenging for some inexperienced users. If you have any doubts about your skills in this area, or are simply uncertain of whether your computers may be compromised in security terms,arrange to bring in your equipment for our expert staff to repair and configure.

WHAT IS A COMPUTER VIRUS?

DEFINITION: A computer virus is a piece of programmed software that has been maliciously designed to cause harm or disruption to the functioning of your computer or its files.

HOW DO YOU "CATCH" A VIRUS?

A computer virus can be planted in a file that you unknowingly receive in email, in a download or on a disk. Modern virus programmers are fiendishly clever, and often transmit the virus-infected file in a harmless or innocent-appearing guise. Viruses embedded in email attachments are probably the most common, and they often are passed on, unwittingly, by people whose email address is familiar to you, or even can be made to automatically infect an individual's email system and automatically pass on the virus to everybody in that individual's email address book, without them having any idea that this is taking place.

Files downloaded from untrusted Web sites on the Internet, infected files inadvertently copied to a floppy disk or CD and passed on, or files sent by way of an instant messenger service can be other ways your computer can become infected.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT OR REPAIR A VIRUS INFECTION?

  • Buy and install a reputable antivirus software program, and keep it updated. Critical: Your antivirus software can be worthless if you fail to regularly update its definitions or virus lists! We recommend that you subscribe to automatic update services from your software's publisher, or manually download updates yourself no less frequently than every few days, if not every day.
  • Never open email attachments from unknown sources (and be very wary of any that still may come from trusted sources).
  • Do not respond to "spam" email (i.e., unsolicited email from unknown sources).
  • Consider online filtering services, such as EONI's optional email filtering system, as a "first line" of defense. (Be aware that no antivirus solution is perfect; each uses different algorithms and approaches, it can take time to devise antidotes to new viruses, etc.)
  • Do not open files on a floppy disk or non-trusted CD without first performing a virus scan on the disk.
  • If you suspect you have a virus, but are not running an antivirus program, you can get help by visiting the Web sites of the leading antivirus software publishers, such as Symantec, McAfee, Sophos, etc. In some cases, you may be able to download a repair tool for a specific virus that you have identified from these sites. However -- visit these Web sites with a "clean" computer.
  • If you suspect you have a virus, take corrective action such as described above before you run your email software or use your computer. Do NOT run data backups, make copies to external disks, connect to other workstations or users if you are on a network, or send email if you believe your computer is virus-infected.
  • If your computer becomes severely virus-infected, you may have to reformat your computer's hard disk and reinstall the operating systems and its programs from scratch. Seek the help of a professional if in doubt.
  • Beware of antivirus hoaxes. Sometimes people naively pass along messages warning you to delete particular files from your computer when those files are in fact harmless and may even be crucial to the proper operation of your system.
  • Above all, exercise reasonable judgment and keep yourself informed by regularly updating your own knowledge of virus threats and virus hoaxes. Don't take action if you are uncertain based only on unsolicited, unknown sources or even on that of well-meaning but uninformed nonprofessionals. Visit the "name brand" antivirus publishers' Web sites or sites such as the US Department of Energy's Cyber Incident Response Capability (CIRC) sitefor credible reports on threats and hoaxes.

WARNING: It may not be enough to rely solely on a single type of antivirus protection. For example, EONI offers email filtering services, run through its servers, that screen incoming mail according to your configuration settings, but you would still need antivirus software on your own computer to deal with viruses that may arrive if you also receive mail under any non-EONI email addresses, or that could be infected in downloads or other files that you copy onto your computer. ( For more information on EONI email and Internet content filtering services, contact us. )

WHAT IS A FIREWALL?

DEFINITION: A computer firewall can be either a hardware-based or software-based system designed to deny access to your computer by unauthorized persons or their computers.

WHY DO I NEED A FIREWALL?

When you connect to the Internet, EONI's servers automatically assign your computer connection a special unique but temporary address (IP address) that allows you to communicate with the rest of the Internet. The downside of this scheme is that other computer users with the requisite technical knowledge could theoretically access your computer if they know your IP address. If you have a "broadband" (high-speed, such as DSL) connection to the Internet, or if you have a static IP address, you absolutely should install firewall software, at a minimum. Such a connection tends to be online for greater periods, may be connected even during idle times and is a more tempting target for intruders.

Firewall software can not only detect and block unauthorized attempts from the outside to access your computer, but can alert you when software on your computer tries to communicate with an external site without your knowledge.

HOW DO I GET FIREWALL PROTECTION?

EONI, of course, has many layers of rigorous and costly hardware and software firewalls and related mechanisms to protect its customers and its resources. However, end users with less-demanding needs can also equip themselves with firewall protection using relatively low-cost or even "freeware" expedients.

Some firewall resources:

  • Firewall Debate: Hardware vs. Software
    SmallBusinessComputing.com comments on the relative merits of hardware vs. software firewalls.
  • Gibson Research Utilities
    Gibson Research (founded by a member of the legendary Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) has a number of freeware firewall and security-oriented utilities such as LeakTest, ShootTheMessenger, and DCOMbobulator, as well as an online test of the security of your machine's vulnerability to the outside world.
  • LifeHacker Reader's Choices for Windows [2008]
    List of most highly-regarded firewalls by Lifehacker readers. Caveat emptor: do some current research, but this might be a place to start.
  • Zone Alarm
    software firewall to protect from intruders and unwanted outgoing transmissions. (Usually works well for home users, but can be problematic for business networks.)

 

If you have a small-office or home network, you should consider using router hardware (often costing well under $100 for a small network), not only for the convenience of sharing network resources and Internet connections, but for adding some additional security against outside interlopers.

WHAT IS SPYWARE?

DEFINITION: Spyware, also known by terms such as adware and stealthware, is software that is installed surreptitiously on your computer for the purpose of tracking your activity, harvesting information about your or your computer, or otherwise compromising your privacy or causing mischief.  Malware is also a term used to describe any sort of malicious software.

WHY DO I NEED SPYWARE DETECTORS?

Spyware and its brethren are primarily privacy issues. Spyware is typically deposited on your computer so that your Web usage patterns can be tracked, with a view toward serving you targeted advertising, whether you want it or not.

A common spyware variant is the kind that may be intercepted by your browser -- depending on its privacy settings you have configured -- when you visit some Web sites, and give you a chance to decline its installation on your machine. However, many inexperienced users may not be aware of the consequences of this, and may be misled into accepting what would turn out to be a privacy-invasive feature. Here is such an example of such an "invitation" that most people would want to avoid:

[Accept a download like this only at your peril!]

HOW DO I DETECT SPYWARE?

There is a growing chorus of privacy advocates on the Internet who firmly believe, as many of us do, that nothing should be communicated between your computer and another that you are unaware of. As a result, there are a number of freeware programs, like MalwareBytes, SpyBot and Ad-Aware, that have been graciously published in an attempt to counter the spyware trend. 

WHAT ARE POPUPS?

DEFINITION: Popups refer to secondary windows that open up automatically when a Web page is loaded. Sometimes, a variation, called a pop-under, occurs in which the secondary window opens behind the main Web page and may not be visible until the main window is dismissed.

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT POPUPS?

Many popups are used as a delivery mechanism for advertising, whether you want it or not. As such, they tend to be more of an annoyance or a time-waster than a real hazard. Some popups come from unscrupulous sources, however, that promote material you might not want yourself or your family members to view -- such as pornographic content.

Popups may work in conjunction with "spyware" or "adware", automatically displaying targeted ads to you when you visit certain Web sites, based on the tracking that the spyware has done.

Note that some popups can legitimately enhance, or may be intended to enhance, your use of a particular Web site by popping up bits of information or instructions or other aids. Sometimes when you are filling out an online form, if you make a mistaken or erroneous entry, a small window may pop up, warning you of the problem and giving you a chance to correct it before proceeding. Unfortunately, popup blocking software can sometimes interfere with a legitimate function of this kind.

Another matter to be aware of is that some popup blocking software may not let you deliberately open a secondary window. So choose a solution that gives you control, allowing you to open desired secondary windows from trusted sites. 

HOW DO I BLOCK POPUP AND OTHER OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT?

Popup blocking software, often available as freeware downloads, abounds on the Web. See reputable sites like CNet's download.com or check our safety downloads FAQ. If you want to use this type of software, look for a program that allows a wide range of configurability and flexibility, and lets you easily disable it temporarily should the need arise.

DID YOU KNOW ... ?

Did you know that most cases of unauthorized computer access and such mischief arise because the owner of a password was careless about defining, using or securing his passwords?

BASIC CAUTIONS

  • Unless your computer is not used by others and is in a well-controlled area, never answer "yes" to an onscreen prompt that asks you if you want your password to be saved or "memorized" for future use.
  • If you are asked to create a password to access some site or content on a Web site, do not use easily guessed passwords, such as your name or something about you that is obvious to others.
  • Don't use "real" dictionary words for passwords. It is a trivial task for a potential intruder to run a program that throws every word in the dictionary at your login screen.
  • Use mixed case in your password and create "gibberish" terms of mixed alpha, numeric (and if allowed by the system in question, punctuation) characters.
  • Don't advertise your password by leaving it on a sticky note on your computer. Don't write it down at all, if possible. The best place to record a password is in your memory. If you must write down your passwords, you should encrypt the information. Check out a resource like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for more information.
  • Don't share your password with anyone else, no matter how innocent you think that act would be. If someone else needs your password, let them create their own account and get their own password.

EONI PASSWORD POLICY AND GUIDELINES

  • For EONI services, passwords are always assigned by EONI to maintain system security. Passwords can be changed only by EONI.
  • NEVER share your password with another individual.
  • Keep your password private and safe as you would with your housekeys or other valuable private possessions.
  • Do not write down your password where it can be discovered by others.
  • If possible, memorize your password and do not commit it to writing.
  • Never give out your password over the phone except to EONI personnel, and then only if you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you are not speaking to someone who might be impersonating an EONI employee.
  • Never submit your EONI password in online Web forms.
  • Do not write your password in an email message unless the email message is encrypted and you know that the recipient of the email is an EONI employee.
  • Never use your EONI password when you are asked to create a password for an Internet vendor or other Web site account. You should always have unique and different passwords for each of your non-EONI Internet accounts.

INTERNET HOAXES AND URBAN MYTHS

DEFINITION: Internet hoaxes usually are misinformation or disinformation about the Internet or computing. They are not generally destructive in themselves, but may waste time and bandwidth, and could actually lead the gullible victim to commit some destructive act on his own. Hoaxes are usually precipitated and perpetuated through email, often in the form of email chain letters.

BASIC CAUTIONS

Be suspicious of ANY email, whether it has come to you from a stranger or a friend, that asks you to forward on multiple copies.

Be particularly cautious when dealing with any advice that instructs you to delete certain files from your computer, or take other actions that could be potentially destructive.

Before acting on a possible hoax, visit a site like HoaxBusters,Sophos or your antivirus software publisher's Web site to search for information on the subject.

You might also want to visit sites like UrbanLegends.About.com or Snopes.com to track down urban myths.

And you can always enter some key terms from a suspected hoax into Google or other search engine.

BASIC CAUTIONS

NEVER reply to ANY email message that asks you to fill out a form or click on a link within the email message which would send your credit card number or other personal information. A common scam is for a criminal operation to send you a legitimate-appearing email message, apparently from a bona fide organization like PayPal or AOL, indicating that they need to update their records and therefore require you to submit your credit card number for verification, or some other pretense for getting your information. Don't be fooled by email messages that look authentic -- it is easy for the unscrupulous to hijack logos and copyright notices, and to hide their own email addresses where the information would be sent, while displaying the email address of the purported company. Learn to inspect source code of email messages and Web pages so that you can discover where form submissions will actually go.

If you have questions about the authenticity of any request for your information, contact the company involved before taking any other action. Review the company's Privacy Policy as published on its Web site. For example, PayPal's -- typical of legitimate firms -- includes the statement: "PayPal representatives will never ask you for your password, so any e-mail or other communication requesting your password should be treated as unauthorized and suspicious."

Do not submit credit card information in any online e-commerce transaction with a Web site or company that you do not know to be legitimate. Deal only with recognized companies and their sites. How do you know whom to trust? Look to online merchant ratings given by comparative shopping sites such as CNET ShopperYahoo Shopping, and Epinions, and avoid sites with customer complaints.

When submitting credit card information online, make sure that the transaction is encrypted with protection such as the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. Make sure that a symbol representing that such protection is in effect is shown in the status bar of your browser. For example, Internet Explorer will display a small gold padlock icon in the bottom right section of the browser when the page being viewed is thusly protected. Generally, the URL (or Web address) of such a page will contain "https:" rather than just "http:" as the leading characters. For example, if you have a PayPal account that you want to log into, if you direct your browser to "https://www.paypal.com", the page that appears (to prompt you for your username and password) will be shown with the padlock icon. However, if you should try to log in using "http://www.paypal.com"[without the "s"], you will not be able to directly log in, but will be given a button that links to a secured second page before it will let you enter your information.

Use of debit cards is not recommended for online transactions, as you may not have the same recourse that you have with a credit card.

In general, use the same level of precautions with online use of credit cards as you would in live, person-to-person transactions.

For more details and guidelines, visit consumer-oriented sites such as PC World's Ten Tips for Safe E-Shopping and visit your credit card company's site. For example, see American Express' Safe and Secure FAQ, Visa's Learn the Facts, and Mastercard'sPriceless Pointers.

You may also wish to visit the Federal Trade Commission'sPrescreened Offers of Credit and Insurance page.

IDENTITY THEFT MONITORING

Identity theft, a rapidly-growing category of crime, is often achieved when a criminal obtains your credit card number and related personal information, or worse yet, your Social Security Number. Sometimes even following the precautions outlined above will not completely protect you, as in the case of outright theft of data from organizations that should know better -- witness the theft in May 2006 of SSNs and other personal information records of 26.5 million veterans and 2.2 million active military personnel, including those currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or just want to be aware of your credit status, mainstream advice is to regularly monitor your credit reports. For example, see Consumer Union's advice on monitoring your own credit.

It is also possible to more definitively know whether your personal information is being used illegally by signing up for an identity management service. Such a service provides 24-hour tracking of illicit use of your credit card numbers, but is typically very expensive for the average consumer. Some services, such as IdentityGuard, provide what is essentially an insurance policy to help cover the costs of regaining and repairing your stolen identify. Whether such services make sense for you is subject to your own determination; we are only pointing you to their existence and suggest that you conduct your own research and make your own evaluations.

You may also want to consult with your antivirus and security software provider to see if they offer identify theft features.

Everybody's experienced it.  Visit a shopping site online and, lo and behold, the next site you visit-- it could be Facebook to Google to your local news source or just about anything --  is suddenly showing you ads for the very product that you had been shopping for.   Generally, this is modern digital capitalism at work.  But there may be ways to limit your exposure to unwanted ads:

[to be developed]

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