Phishing for Profit: How hackers hook our personal information

phishing for profit

New year, new hopes, dreams… and phishing scams? Here we are in 2019. Energized at the thought of new beginnings. I wonder if the hackers get as excited as everyone else? Do they think “I can’t wait to roll out the new phishing scam – it’s gonna make last year’s look like a dud. Say sayonara to data privacy, sucker!” It’s absolutely frightening how slick malware creators are when it comes to phishing for profit.

Data privacy and phishing scams may seem like odd topics for a content creator’s blog until you know that I spent most of 2018 writing about information security, data privacy and compliance. So much time, in fact, that I found myself spouting off about it in everyday conversation. I made friends’ eyes glaze over. Yea, me!

Phishing is some evil stuff (here are the top seven of 2018). It’s so rampant because it is so profitable. Healthcare data is a favorite, because it’s so handy when stealing an identity and creating a new one. Just think of all the incredibly intimate minutiae in your healthcare record. So be on guard.

Five simple anti-phishing steps to help avoid being hooked.

  1. Beware of weirdly worded emails that are supposedly from a friend or trusted vendor. Always read, pause, then re-read before doing anything (phishing is one reason I take no action on chain emails or online games).
  2. Pay attention to unsolicited texts – don’t tap, swipe or otherwise act. If it looks like it’s from your bank or credit card company, but you haven’t set up text alerts, then it’s probably not legit!
  3. If you open an email and the logo looks a little fuzzy or the sender address is misspelled, don’t click on a link or download the file.
  4. If Microsoft misspells something in the subject line or email body, it’s not from Microsoft (or whoever the company purports to be).
  5. NEVER click through or tap on a link that takes you somewhere to enter personal information or reset a password unless you specifically asked for a reset from that vendor. Instead, take the time to go to a browser and manually enter the URL.

Personal data privacy is something we all need to guard.

We can be better at protecting it despite how entrenched we are in online transactions. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply pay attention. Start with these 4 basic activities:

  1. Use strong passwords, not convenient ones, when your sensitive data is at stake. Stumped? You can try one of the password generators listed here.
  2. Check your credit card activity regularly. Set up automatic notifications for charges over a particular dollar amount (this is a favorite for me on credit cards and checking accounts). And please, change your account log-in password if you haven’t lately!
  3. Pause before tapping unsolicited text links or clicking email links or attachments. Closely examine email sender addresses.
  4. Keep your health information to yourself. Personal health information (or protected health information, PHI) is valuable to hackers for identity theft. You can read more about it here. Healthcare providers and their vendors were hit hard last year, which means your PHI was, too.

It comes down to this: You can’t un-ring the bell. Being a phishing target is the price we pay for living in the super-connected cyber-verse, clicking, tapping, swiping, liking, following and buying. All you can do is be more aware of what you share, how and where.

I write for businesses, creating on-message, search-friendly content. To see some of my work, visit this privacy, information security and certification readiness firm, or this technology company offering a cloud-based platform for cybersecurity and information management.




The Secret to Consistent Content Publication

Consistent content - is Queen

or “If Content is King, then Consistency is Queen”

I posted that quote – from an anonymous source – not long ago on my business Facebook Page. Because it’s true. Consistent content publication is one of the primary reasons ongoing marketing communications clients seal the deal with me for content writing. Consistent content, getting their message to their audience regularly, is top of their marketing list.

Crown consistency. Put a big ol’ sparkly tiara on it. The easiest way to get that going is to schedule time on your calendar with your content writer. A weekly 15–minute conversation is what works for most of mine.

What can be done in a quarter hour? 15 minutes of content focus.

  • Discuss and decide upon a timely topic. Your response to an industry survey, a new product or service roll-out.
  • Establish the message, aka the benefit to the audience. “The survey reports ____. Our product helps you beat the odds by doing ____.”
  • Choose keywords and phrases. Your search analytics can help here. Based on the topic, what search terms or phrases might be used?

A strong content writer will be able to tighten the focus and help the topic come to life. You’ll want to provide your content writer with a couple of relevant URLs or the appropriate survey / report to use as resources. I’ve a couple of clients who use this method. We chat for a moment about what’s the hot topic for the week, or what they’ve had come up with their own clients. Then we move on to how it can tie into their product or service(s) and the client “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) message. Finally, and this works best when they’re referring to search analytics, we decide what key terms and phrases to work into the article.

“How often should we publish?” Ask instead how consistently you should publish.

Turn calendar reminders into a friendly nag. Choose your timing and do your darnedest to stick with it. If we have a call weekly, I’ll get you a weekly article. If every two weeks, then you’ll get an article every two weeks. When the article gets published – that’s up to you. Just remember: consistency is queen!

What’s the catch with free blog content?

new post free blog content

What's the catch with free blog content?

I’m all about free. BOGO. Free app with entrée. But when someone offers to write free blog content, my spidey sense tingles. Not that writers don’t love to write, but I immediately ask, “What’s the catch?” Because there’s no fairy godmother of creative content. There is a catch.

I write for a living. So I’m a little biased against the loosely associated paragraphs of rehashed content from an online search. I field free writing offers from “fellow” writers regularly. “I’ll write free content for your blog. You’ll get a photo, links and amp your search results.” Really. Hmmm.

You may have seen a pitch for free blog content in your Inbox. If you’re determined to check it out, then make no commitments, do this instead: Get them to send you a sample post.

Once you read the sample post, go back and follow the outbound links. Notice how the linked-to article has weirdly similar content to the article you were given? Often, freebie content writers paraphrase pieces from other articles, then include an outbound link to the original article. It appears appropriate, but in actuality, they’re lifting phrases and rehashing original content.

What’s wrong with that, you ask? It undermines the voice of your brand.

Say you’re a personal trainer and a freebie blogger sends you an article on nutrition. How does its content relate to your services? Does the blog article tie together nutritional tips from you with the benefits of motivational, supervised training? Or is it about how we look at nutrition has changed, that eggs are good protein and leafy greens are essential? One has the potential to be relevant. To promote your expertise and your differentiators. The other is flat, irrelevant content. Space-filler.

Any article published on your website or social media should be related to you and your business: What you sell, Who you are, or Why it’s beneficial (the “what’s in it for me” message).

Organic, search-friendly, written content is original. It gives you a voice for your brand. A voice that points out how your products and services are better than the competition’s. What you know that others may not. What being you is all about and why that’s a good thing for your customers. That’s good blog content.

As you can imagine, small- to mid-sized business owners are a favorite target of freebie content offers. Many don’t have the marketing budget to hire an agency with a cadre of writers producing relevant, on-message content. Nor do they have the time or desire to write their own search-friendly, relevant (to their business) content. Enter nhaile.

So definitely go for the buy-one-get-one appetizer offer at happy hour – I’ll join you! But take a pass on the too-good-to-be-true dangling carrot. Call me instead.