It’s Tax Time, Beware of this IRS Phishing Email

Written: January 14, 2016

I cringe every time that I have to pay taxes quarterly, and whenever I receive an email or letter from the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue. My email inbox today had the following official looking message:

IRS phishing

The from email address was legitimate as noreply@irs.gov, however this email message had two things that stuck out to me as suspicious:

  1. The wording was quite awkward, like: “we oblige you to update”
  2. There’s an HTML file attachment, a big security no-no

So folks, this email was another phishing attempt to lure me into double-clicking on the attached HTML file, the real IRS will never send you an HTML file for clicking. The real IRS would have your Social Security number displayed, or your first and last name, or your address, something to identify that they know who you really are beyond just an email address.

Be vigilant and always question any suspicious looking email before blindly following what hackers are sending you.

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Happy New 2016, Beware of an Apple ID Phishing

Written: January 8, 2016

Welcome to 2016, and I hope that this will be your best year ever.

I just received an official-looking email from Apple with a security notice about a failed login attempt on a device in the UK:

phishing-security-notice

 

My suspicions were alerted so I did a quick look at the email sender, which revealed: infoweb@appleid.net

That’s not an email address coming from the official apple.com domain name, so I was about 90% certain that this was yet another phishing scam to get me to click a link. Step two was to hover over the blue link that they wanted me to click to see what URL they wanted me to land on:

Phishing URL

Phishing URL

OK, now I was 100% certain that this was a phishing scam because the URL is pointing to www.haven24.cool, which is certainly not in any way related to the official apple.com domain name.

This email looked quite official on the surface, but digging a bit deeper on my part instead of blindly clicking the phishing link protected my identity from being stolen and abused.

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Working with Freelancers

Written: December 31, 2015

I’m a freelance web developer and over the years I have built relationships with other freelancers that complement my skill set, and one that I’d like to mention today is Cory Company run by Monica Cory. We first met at the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce and started working together building the web site at www.tualatinchamber.com. Monica continued to send web development work my way, and I have referred copy writing and design gigs back to her. Our relationship is mutual and a win-win, plus our common clients enjoy the combined talents that we have to offer. Monica wrote me a brief note this week that I thought was a wonderful way to end the year 2015 with:

Cory Company

Cory Company

Sites that we’ve worked on together include:

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Menus and Clarity

Written: December 3, 2015

Web site menus can be very helpful or extremely frustrating to visitors, so let’s take a minute to think about how your menus are arranged. Here are some general best practices for menus to consider:

I was working on a web site at www.tualatinlife.com and had a chance to step back and ask myself these same questions. We were having too many menu choices across the page width, so I make the simple decision to group related menu pages under a common top-level menu called Sections. This is a newspaper site, and I knew that visitors were familiar with the concept of newspaper sections, so now there are three drop-down choices under Sections:

tualatin life, menu

 

Another usability issue is that for drop-down menus, visitors do not click the top-level menu, in this case the menu called Sections, because they see the three drop-down choices and intuitively click only the drop-down menus.

The end result for this web site is that we have a cleaner top-level menu structure, and have grouped common pages under the Sections menu.


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