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by Don

Microsoft has a very good article explaining phishing, a common scheme to defraud people of their personal and financial information. Unfortunately despite a clear explanation and some solid advice on what to look for and what to do if you think you have been a victim of such activity, they miss the most critical step for avoidance – use plain text for reviewing emails.

The phishing emails use a two very common techniques: first, they use graphics from a legitimate website such as a bank, ebay or paypal to appear to be the real website. Second, they use something called uniform resource locator (url) masking to make a link appear to go to the legitimate site, while actually redirecting elsewhere. Both of these techniques only work if you view your email in Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) format. If you disable HTML formatting and view the email as plain text, the mismatched url’s are immediately apparent and you will be much less likely to fall for the scam.

In Outlook Express for example, you can select to review your email in plain text mode by clicking on Tools, then Options and selecting the Read tab. Check the box next to “Read all messages in plain text.”

We highly recommend that you not use either Outlook or Outlook Express for email. You will do much better for many reasons with Thunderbird, a free email client available for download from Mozilla. Even in Thunderbird, you need to choose plain text by clicking on View, Message Body As and then selecting Plain Text. Note that Thunderbird also offers an intermediate option called simple html which will apply basic formatting, but avoid the display of images and other items such as counters embedded in the emails to detect if you are reading the emails.

Some commercial emailer’s insist on sending email in html format. We encourage the avoidance of these sources. Most however offer you the option of selecting plain text. Plain text is much more bandwidth intelligent and will help you avoid phishing and many other difficulties not discussed in this article.

Remember: plain text








One Response to “Avoid Anti-Phishing”

  1. Darwin C. Garcia Says:

    Some optional items you could include in your RESOURCE BOX:

    1. Your email autoresponder: I’m not a big fan of this strategy due to the fact that spammers will text-extract your autoresponder address and add it to their spam list. Perhaps this strategy was best for the 1990’s and has now run its course.

    2. An anchor URL that is related to one keyword or keyword phrase that you want to build SEO strength for. Example: if I wanted to build search engine relevance/strength for the term “Article Marketing,” I’d link up that term in my resource box to my website. This is an intermediate to advanced level strategy and should not be abused by over-doing it. Keep it simple.

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