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'Simon Ashton' Hacker Warning

Netlore Archive: Hacker Warnings circulate via email

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'Hacker warning' circulating via forwarded email tells recipients not to accept messages or friend invitations from a supposed email hacker named Simon Ashton.

Description: Email hoax
Circulating since: Jan. 2008
Status: False (see details below)


Example:
Email text contributed by Nic P., Feb. 6, 2009:

------------------------------

FW: Hacker Warning

*URGENT HACKER WARNING !*

IF A PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON (SIMON_25_@HOTMAIL.CO.UK) CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DONT ACCEPT HIM. DELETE HIM BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!! TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO *COPY AND PASTE* THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF YOU DON'T CARE FOR THEM AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!...

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Analysis: False. Email warnings about alleged hackers capable of stealing your personal info if you merely reply to their messages or add their names to friends lists are a dime a dozen (see more examples below), and based on a false premise, namely that it's just that simple to hack into someone's email or Facebook account. It isn't.

That said, such break-ins do occur, so there are two real threats every email user or member of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter should beware of:

  1. Messages from strangers asking you for personal information (e.g., user name, password, phone number, etc.)
  2. Messages from strangers containing links to unfamiliar file attachments or websites
Both are methods often used by actual hackers and identity thieves to steal personal information online. The first, often referred to as "social engineering," is self-explanatory, and, obvious though it may be, seems to work extraordinarily well on naive and unsuspecting users.

DON'T reveal your passwords or other sensitive data to anyone!

The second method, which lures users into clicking links that download malicious software onto their computers, is just as effective. Said malicious software might contain, for example, a keystroke logger which records user names and passwords and transmits them to identity thieves on the other side of the world, or a program which turns over control of the victim's computer to a hacker (or to a "botnet" which can take over a vast number of computers at the same time), or both.

DON'T click on any links sent to you in online messages unless you're familiar with the source and confident the link destination is benign.

Also, for security's sake:

DON'T use passwords that would be easy to guess based on other information available on your website, in your Facebook or MySpace profile, or anywhere else online.

And, last but not least:

D0 maintain adequate antivirus and/or Internet security software, including a firewall, on your PC.

Forewarned is forearmed!


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More examples of 'hacker alert' email hoaxes:

Example:
Email text contributed by The Mills, Aug. 8, 2007:

WARNING. MY friend just sent me this.

some boy called bum_tnoo@hotmail.com adds U don't accept it because he is a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list accepts them U get get them on your list he'll figure out your ID, Computer address.

So copy and paste this message to everyone even if you do not care for them and fast because if he hacks their emails he is hacking your mail too! for facebook.......

Example:
Email text contributed by Ivette B., Feb. 28, 2008:

URGENT Message:

If some boy called KURT CHAPMAN adds u don't accept it because he is a hacker!!

Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them u get them on your list he'll figure out Your ID computer address, so copy and paste this message to everyone even if u don't care for them and fast cause if he hacks their email he hacks your mail too!!!

Example:
Email text contributed by Anne T., Jan. 20, 2009:

Fw: F.W important!!!!!

If somebody called al7ub@hotmail.com adds you, don't accept it because it's a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them you'll get them on your list. He'll figure out your ID computer address, so copy and paste this message and send it to every one fast, even if u hate them because if he hacks them he will be on your list. sorry if you get this twice but better to get it twice than add the hacker!


Further reading:

The Dangers of Facebook (and Other Social Networking Sites)
About.com: Personal Web Pages

Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
About.com: Internet Security

How to Safeguard Your Online Security
PC World, 26 January 2009

5 Facebook Schemes that Threaten Your Privacy
PC World, 25 February 2009


Last updated: 04/01/09

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