Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Deflecting Web Attacks

I continue to experience an increase in unwanted spam emails, bogus comments on blog posts and pernicious suggested links on Google+. Since I review all of these suggested comments and connections, I can eliminate virtually all of them, but I suspect that some people are not quite so efficient in eliminating this terrible background noise of web use.

I routinely receive more than 100 emails a day, sometimes over 200. It is rather easy to spool through them and delete the ones I do not care to read. The trick is knowing which ones to delete. Much of my email is simply periodic announcements and ads from companies. Those are pretty easy to glance at and delete. Occasionally I have to read an entire message.

Because I am on Google+, I get several offers each day for connections. I would guess about half of these are from outside of the United States and most of these involve obvious or not so obvious objectionable websites and connections. I ignore these or, in extreme cases, immediately delete them. One very good indicator of a bogus connection with seriously objectionable consequences is that the person connecting to your account has no other contacts or followers. Google+ seems to be a ripe field for the pornographic industry, terrorist organizations and other types of marginal to really bad online predators.

The last category of unwelcome spam that seems to continue to increase is bogus comments on blog posts in the past. The statement of the commentator is usually couched in really poor English and is highly complementary of the post without referring at all to the topic. I recently got a comment from a plumbing company about a genealogy post that had a reference to "plumbing the depths" of some subject. These comments all get erased. You should never open or add a comment or follower without checking first. All content should be reviewed. Do not open email messages that appear to be suspect. This is especially true if someone you know but have had little contact with suddenly appears to be sending you a link to a website or a Dropbox folder. Do not click on the links. If you have a question, call the person on the telephone directly or send them an entirely separate email message about the suspect attachment.

There is another category of email that is even more dangerous. There are common emails from companies you deal with asking you to verify information or send a reply with some personal information. Do not click on these emails. Call the company first to verify that the email is valid. You will almost always be told that it is not. The most common of these messages come from someone imitating Pay Pal. I get several of these a month. Most of them inform me that my account will be closed if I do not respond. I haven't responded yet and my account has not been closed.

There is a real dangerous world out there and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.


  1. Hi James, You have said that you sometimes run out of ideas for blog posts. I read that you gave a class for Family History Expos on Family Tree hints. I love the hints and all the records I have found, plus how I don't have so many sources to add. But it doesn't seem to be completely up to speed yet. Will there be a way to delete the duplicate sources from our FT? I read that we should include them all so the system doesn't get messed up, but on some of my people I have up to 5 marriage sources, for example.

    I wish I had known about the class you taught and would like it if you could share some of your tips to using HINTS. Thanks!

    1. You might want to read my Rejoice, and be exceeding glad... blog. I usually talk about FamilySearch on that blog. I will do a post very soon about Record Hints, likely tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion. You can always detach a source if it is an exact duplicate after it has been attached. I will go into detail about this in the post.

  2. A few of the Facebook genealogy groups I belong to must have it set up so that any member can approve new members, and apparently many members are happily doing so willy nilly. Consequently, we are bombarded with spam from new members whose names alone would have caused me pause, without even checking further.