There was a time years ago when neighbors could hail each other by shouting in a high-pitched voice across the hollow that separated their farms… “hollering.” As population density increased and privacy became important, whispering grew more common. Today we text and email on our computers and hand-held super-phones… convenient, habit-forming, and exposed to a growing number of fraudsters who have devised intricate ways to trick us into sharing our passwords, social security numbers, and account numbers. Phishing has grown from an amateur sport into a world-wide industry, and it will only continue to grow. There are fairly simple countermeasures we can install in our computers and mobile phones to make phishing more difficult and less rewarding, but we are all edging toward adding encryption systems to our communications devices, sooner or later. Doing business online requires increasingly cumbersome identity recognition features, but our emails and phone conversations to friends and neighbors may still be as open as a “holler” from one neighbor to another. It is time to explore and adopt risk-management practices when using phones and email; whispering is no longer good enough… especially if it’s about money.
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