Monday, February 6, 2012

TECH TIP: How to Spot Fraudulent Email With Bogus Links

A listener forwarded me an email that appeared to be from LinkedIn notifying them of a "new message".

What concerned this gentleman, and quite wisely, was that he didn't know a "Catherine Patterson". While only one of many clues, it was enough to raise the caution flag and seek assistance. Fortunately he asked questions before clicking the links.

I shared the following; perhaps it will be of value to you as well:

You can check the validity of links in Outlook emails by holding your mouse over the link URL. If the URL shown in the mouse-over does not match EXACTLY the URL you’d expect (i.e. -> or at least you can bet this is bogus. In the example you forwarded, the URL *displayed* is but the email code would send you to some crazy amrpartners dot com dot br URL.

While it’s POSSIBLE this is an email re-direct from their email provider, the “.br” domain, among other clues (i.e. you don’t know Catherine Pat makes me confident it’s fraudulent. You can always log in to separately to see if Catherine HAS in fact sent you a message.

Short version: If the mouse-over URL does not equal the displayed URL (and the domain of the site you’ve heard of), simply press delete.

More information on this topic from anti-virus maker Trend-Micro.

What clever tricks have you seen from spammers? If you have a tech question, feel free to reach out: techexpert AT brianwestbrook DOT com

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Washington State Broadband Office 2011 Report

Did you know? The "Washington State Broadband Office of the Washington State Department of Commerce" is an actual, it seems, entity? They sent me a press release with information on the use and availability of broadband in the State.

Among the findings: "3.88 percent of all Washington households do not have access to broadband" (that number, the report states, is an improvement from 2010).

The press release follows, and more information is available at:

Washington State Broadband Office Releases
2011 Annual Broadband Report
Access improves, private investment increases

Olympia, WA – The Washington State Broadband Office (WSBO) of the Department of Commerce released its second annual comprehensive report today on broadband access, availability and use in Washington State.
Highlights of the report include:
• Just over 44 percent of all Washingtonians have a choice of four wireline providers.
• Gaps still exist: 3.88 percent of all Washington households do not have access to broadband – down from 4.3 percent in 2010.
• Grantees began work on more than $200M of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act broadband infrastructure projects.
During 2011, private investment in broadband increased dramatically, particularly among wireless providers which are expanding their 4G service areas. In the state’s most populated areas wireless speeds jumped from 10 mega bits per second (mbps) to 25 mbps.
The report also outlines the goals of WSBO during 2012 and is available online at: . In addition to the report, updated maps that include broadband availability, upload/download speeds and feedback options are available under the mapping tab at the WSBO website: