The power of leverage

Leverage is the power of using a little bit of energy to move a great deal of weight. You have been on a see-saw with a child. If they sit way back on the see-saw and you sit way forward, their little bit of weight can move your larger weight up and down with ease. Leverage is a attacker’s dream. If s/he can find one little thing that will make you click on a poisoned link, or download a malware program, or divulge your Social Security number, he or she can strike gold. Let’s look at a few ways bad guys use leverage against you.

  1. The free service

Are you a member of LinkedIn? It is an online networking service. It is free. What a great deal. Why would they offer you that? When you signed up they said it was free, but dig deeper. The cost is access to your contacts list. LinkedIn is in a class action law suit for “mining” the Gmail addresses of their customers.

  1. The appeal to vanity

Everyone us interested in themselves. Imagine getting this email. “Hey, I shot some great video of you the other night. Come look at it. [Link] It’s great.”

  1. The crisis click

Are you a business owner? Do you want to protect it? Imagine getting an email like this:

“Dear Mr./Ms. [business owner]

I just saw a facebook post from one of your employees. They were really running down your company. I thought that was very unprofessional and I thought you would want to know. If you want to see it [click here.]

  1. I’m here to help

Have you gotten this phone call? “I’m calling from Microsoft. We have detected a virus on your system and want to help you get it cleaned out.”

  1. The update

Have you ever ever seen this pop up? “You need to update to the latest version of flash (or some other program). Click [here] to update.” How do you know Adobe sent that?

  1. The impersonation

“Dear Sir or Madam, we are updating our files on your MasterCard account. Please log on to out web site [link here] and make sure your information is correct.

  1. The threat

“This is a notice from the F.B.I. we have detected child pornography coming from you I.P. address. If you are not the responsible party, contact [our office] immediately or we will have your Internet service terminated and begin prosecution against you.”

  1. The old friend

“You have received an E-card from [someone who was hacked and you were in their address book]. Click [here] to view.

This list is not exhaustive. Every day someone is coming up with a new one. One has to be constantly on his or her guard to keep from getting tricked.

Suggestion for the week: talk with your family members about these leverage attacks and warn them to be sceptical about anyone who wants them to click on links or give out any personal information.

If you have any feedback about this column, suggestions about a topic you would like me to discuss, or want me to come do a free identity theft seminar at your church or social club, you can contact me at

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