Category Archives: Technology

Are email tricksters targeting tax returns?


I decided I had to blog about a new phishing scheme I found in my email today. (It may not be new to some.)  It is circulating during the high time of tax season and I wonder if it is targeting people who are getting tax returns.

The email sender’s name, “transfers“, didn’t strike me as suspicious. It should have, but I was quickly scanning for personal emails and my eyes darted between From and Subject in my email preview. The subject line caught my attention and drew me in, particularly since I knew that the acronym ACH relates to money. ACH stands for Automated clearinghouse and is the network of computers that handles United States  electronic depository transactions–financial deposits and funds transfers.

Can you see why I went on to read the message?

The sender, “transfers“, used the subject line: “Your ACH transaction”. The email didn’t have an attachment and was somewhat convincing–no misspelled words, bears NACHA–The Electronic Payment Association logo, and included a convenient archived report of the canceled transaction.

Links are always suspect, but it wasn’t until I saw the name of the “convenient archived report” that I squinted my eyes in suspicion.  It looked like this (I changed the real numbers):

“report_1234567.pdf.exe. Self-extracting archive. Adobe PDF.”

The Adobe PDF file made it seem harmless; many use Adobe PDF files each day. 

Yet, I am grateful that I was taught that an “.exe” file means that the file is executable, which is the technical term for saying that the file will do whatever it is designed to do on your computer! Whatever! You give the file permission to serve its’ purpose when you click on it and agree to the other prompts such as “open” and “save”.  That is scary when you don’t know what the file will do! If it is meant for wrongdoing, as happens in phishing emails, that can mean financial woes or stolen identity when the file installs itself on a computer and begins to run its program.

I searched for  NACHA‘s website, but NOT by using any of the links in the email! 

Emails similar to mine were the subject of an April 22nd notice under NACHA news.  NACHA says, ‘we don’t …touch the ACH transactions…‘ and goes on to explain that emails supposedly from them are phishing schemes. They ask people to send fraudulent emails to: abuse@nacha.org.

NACHA is a legitimate organization that manages the ACH network. 

Updated antivirus software is critical if anyone makes financial transactions online.

Ruthless minds are stepping up their game to get people’s hard-earned dollars.

And I am trying to spread word of the need for caution.

Most of us work too hard for our money!

Caio! Be Safe Online!

~Kerstin

Alaskan skies–What is happening?


On Sunday, August 1st, another airplane crash was reported in Alaska.  People might be saying, “What is happening there?” 

The news reports of crashes started on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010. According to reports, a small single-engine airplane (Cessna 206) clipped the roof of a motel just before crashing into the street in front of a local business. One child died and four other passengers were injured. The 5pm crash caused an explosion that engulfed a nearby business in flames. A crowd, including a soldier,  rushed to help the victims get out of the plane.

Friday, June 6th, 2010. A Cessna 180  single engine plane went down, landing safely onto a highway 20 miles north of Anchorage. The veteran pilot, and only occupant of the plane, safely landed his plane of 35 years and suggested that  mechanical failure was to blame. He referred to a hole in the top of the engine and suggested a busted rod might have been thrown from the  engine.

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010. A U.S. Air Force cargo plane , the C-17 Globemaster,  went down Wednesday evening in a wooded area near an airfield in Anchorage. The plane prized for its reliability and maneuverability was practicing for an airshow at Elmendorf Air Force Base according to Air Force officials. Three of the victims were Air National Guardsmen and the fourth was on active duty at Elmendorf Air Force Base. All four airmen perished.

US Air Force C17. Photo courtesy of US Air Force.

Sunday, August 1st, 2010. 180 miles north of Anchorage in Denali National Park  a Fairchild C-123 (cargo plane)    crashed into  Mount Healy. Reports suggest the airplance crashed at around 3pm near the eastern edge of the park. The crash claimed the lives of three men.

The FAA is investigating these crashes. Final reports are pending. Many prayers go out to those families who’ve lost loved ones as a result of these and other crashes.

 In late June, a new system using core technology under NextGen was officially adopted to improve air transportation safety and efficiency in Alaska’s rugged terrain. The system  is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).  NextGen is an umbrella term for a comprehensive transformation of our national airspace system. The goal is to make air travel more convenient and dependable, while ensuring  safe and secure flights.  Last year, the FAA reported 100 airplane incidents and crashes in Alaska–not all crashes resulted in fatalities. Air travel is the primary means of transportation in Alaska, and the FAA has made claims that the system is already making air travel safer there. 

Hoping and praying this system makes a drastic difference in national air safety, and that the souls of the departed are at rest…

Kerstin

Hello world! Brave enough to be different? The President on The View.


Today was a historic day–watched a sitting president on a talk show and started my first blog! 

What a kick off  day for a blog!!  President Obama’s talk show appearance was just the kind of event that I’d like to sit down and talk about over a cup of coffee and a warm croissant! How I’d love to be at America’s water coolers and coffee rooms tomorrow!  I enjoy fair and thoughtful debates, good conversations, and learned the power of a question long ago–questions, questions, questions! I don’t enjoy hateful and mean discourse because I don’t see the point, but …that’s me. (I am not supposed to have hateful comments here so please don’t do it if you’re angry about the topic. Please! You’ll get me kicked off on my first day!)

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

 Back to the topic. I do remember hearing the announcement, “President Obama will be on “The View”,” and I thought long and hard: Why would he choose to do that?  Then, I decided I needed to watch the show to see if a  former boss’ training of reading an agenda was still fresh.  As I sit here writing, I don’t think I learned anything new by watching the show. A fair conclusion had been reached before I watched it.  I believed there was a calculated risk being taken. He’d been on the show before and seems to have three out of the four (or…four out of the five) supporting him, or, at the least, pleasant toward him. Then, there’s Elizabeth… She represents those who staunchly “disagree” (at least on most matters–Afghanistan budget support was a shift).  My conclusion: the ladies of “The View” represent  opinions of America–people who support and like him no matter what, people who might disagree but are giving him a chance to prove himself and turn things around, and those who have never liked losing the control to “that one” (as Senator McCain disrespectfully called him during the campaign). 

Why be on “The View”?

My thought: the show appearance was probably in the works for a while–too many details for last-minute–so it might have been a “we can do this America” appearance. Why on “The View”?  I’d argue–representative opinions. Ladies sit on the panel and watch the show, but guys watch too. (Guys, you know you might do an occasional “click by” on the remote. Am I wrong? Would you tell?)  I’d be willing to bet that he knew tough times were going to call for bravery.  Bravery on the part of the people and bravery from our leaders. Maybe I’m wrong but follow me a second. President Obama, unlike Senator McCain (who openly admitted this as a shortcoming), proclaims to know a bit about economic principles.  Most economists knew we were in for a doozy and I believe the President got that sense too! Things were crumbling all around, before and after the 2008 election. No one really knew where it would stop and guesstimates were made as to what to do.  Ask an economist…

Thoughts after watching the show…

I think this was an effort to bring ease about the economy’s state,  and to be out there, informally, so people can see and hear him for themselves.  He spoke openly on the show about how political power-shift energy generates too much attention and that governing should take precedence. Okay. So… I believe he bravely positioned himself to take a punch on the political chin, knowing that people are drastically divided politically; knowing that people would be saying, “Uh…don’t YOU have governing to do?”; knowing that the media will hop on this with a whip and spurs, and knowing that many won’t understand (and will question) his “real” reason for being there. (See “Extra Stuff” for the President’s words.) After watching his appearance it did seem he was trying to cheer folks on. He didn’t point out that there has been multi-level irresponsibility that got us into this situation–a debt reliant citizenry, unscrupulous and shameful business and bank practices,  and policy and government officials who failed to institute their checks and balances–or that there’s a group of fiscally responsible people who are now struggling  when they shouldn’t be. He didn’t say that, nor did he point out that the whole world is struggling economically. He went on a talk show and cheered us on, sort of in the same manner as FDR’s radio spot–the fireside chat.

Retrieved from PBS.org's Whitehouse timeline files

“There must be confidence in the people! …You people must have faith!… Let us unite in vanishing fear!” FDR confidently encouraged in his first fireside chat. (I listened to the audio file.) The last words of FDR’s  first chat were, “Together we can not fail!”  President Obama’s parting words on “The View” were: “There’s no reason why America … shouldn’t continue to be the greatest country on earth for decades and centuries to come. But, we just have to remind ourselves of what makes us great. And hopefully, I’ll be able to help lead the country through this difficult time so that we can continue on this extraordinary journey that we’ve been on.”

Slowly I begin to wonder, what will people say of President Obama’s chat on “The View” seventy some years from now…

Caio!  ~ Kerstin