A suspicious man wearing sunglasses working on his computer

Dangers of the Digital Age: Phishing

Our digital age is definitely a two-edge sword; we love the wealth of information and services at our fingertips, but we hate all of the bad things that can happen while we’re online, especially when it takes our time, our money or even our identity. From spammers to scammers, there are a LOT of bad people out there who want nothing more than to steal something precious from us–but only if we let them.

A Relatively New Threat–Phishing

A few weeks ago, one of my clients contacted me regarding a strange email he had received. The message looked authentic but was generic enough for him to wonder if perhaps he had let an online account lapse somewhere, and that he needed to do something immediately to renew the account. The email looked something like this (I’ve replaced my client’s email address with a generic one for demonstration purposes):

Phishing example

This is a perfect PHISHING example where a bad guy out there is trying to fool the email recipient by sending what appears to be a legitimate message in the hopes that the recipient will click an associated link (the “VALIDATE ACCOUNT” link in this case) and enter credentials (typically a username and password) into what the recipient assumes is a legitimate account. In these cases, the account is anything but legitimate, and once the thieves have your username and password, there’s no telling what they can do with it.

How Can I Tell If It’s a Phishing Attempt?

There are nearly always tell-tale signs that a received email is not legitimate. In the example above, the message is rather generic (as they don’t really know what account you may be expecting). It’s also not as professional as you’d expect (a “real” email would be branded with an organization’s name and colors and simply look better). But the real trick is to HOVER your mouse (don’t click!) over whatever link they want you to click and review what appears. In this case, you’d see the following:

Phishing example

Notice that when you roll your mouse over the link, the destination URL appears (the website you would go to if you did indeed click the link). Note how there are a LOT of characters assigned to the URL–this is almost always a clear sign of nefarious activity. So, if you don’t recognize the destination URL, don’t click on it!

I’m Here to Help!

In this case, my client emailed me with the suspicious email and I was able to provide appropriate advice. So, if you’re not sure about something you’ve just received, simply email me and I’ll let you know if it’s legitimate.

Another Popular Scam–Overdue Hosting Invoices

Note that another very common scam out there are for disreputable hosting companies to send an overdue invoice for website hosting. Again, the invoice will look legitimate, and in a way it is–it’s a very dishonest way of fooling site owners into moving their website hosting to another company (and paying WAY more for that hosting). Most Huelsman Way clients simply have me handle their domain hosting payment each year; if you’re one of them and receive an invoice for hosting, it’s most likely a scam (but send it to me just in case so I can verify).

Other Huelsman Way News

Site hosting information, content development and other happenings at The Huelsman Way.

Upcoming Server Migration

Last week, I was informed by my cloud host SiteGround that they’ll be moving my cloud server to a new datacenter facility in Iowa on February 5th. As I received in their announcement, “This is a standard and seamless procedure that will be performed late at night when server traffic is minimal. We do not expect any downtime for your account, however brief outages of a few minutes are possible while migrating your data to the new server.”

Unfortunately, the server migration will require a reset all DNS settings for all the sites. For those clients whose DNS is already pointing directly to SiteGround, those settings will be automatically updated and shouldn’t be an issue for anyone. However, there are a few who may still be pointing to my original Rackspace cloud server (which, in turn, are being redirected to SiteGround). In those cases, I’ll likely need to update the DNS manually.

So, please be aware that the server is moving this Wednesday, February 5th. If you notice any issues with your site afterwards, let me know and I’ll be sure to take care of the issue quickly!

PHP Upgrade to 7.3

Similarly, SiteGround will be “bumping” the version of PHP running on all Huelsman Way sites to 7.3 on February 26th. PHP is the programming language used to run WordPress, and yes, there are different versions of the language (SiteGround is trying to be proactive in ensuring that the latest versions of WordPress are running on the latest versions of PHP). Again, this shouldn’t be an issue for any of the sites, but be aware of the change.

Ongoing Site Development

Website development continues! I’m currently actively developing, assisting with development or have just completed development of the following sites:

Ongoing BrowserQuests™ Development

Work continues on my online browser-based role-playing game (RPG) BrowserQuests™ which I’ve written in .NET Webforms and is tied to a SQL Server database (unlike all the WordPress stuff I manage that utilizes completely different technologies). Over the holidays I wrote a brand new module consisting of two quests, intended to be a “prequel” of the story I have online so far. I’m now entering all that content into the BQ engine, and when it’s all done and properly tested, I’ll upload the new module to the Internet. My hope is to have this done by the end of February!

Interested in BrowserQuests™? Subscribe to my BQ newsletter for all the latest!

Susie Show Bridal Fair

Susie Huelsman of The Susie Show at the 2020 Madison Winter Bridal FairSusie and I exhibited at the Madison 2020 Winter Wedding Show back on January 12-13. Despite the snow and Packer game on Sunday, attendance was very good and Susan did well at the event, signing three brides-to-be that weekend alone (two in 2021 and one later this summer). Susie also learned that she had again won the Couples Choice Award for 2020, presented by WeddingWire.com for her perfect 5.0 score (the sixth year in a row!).

Learn all about Susie and her fabulous wedding DJ package at SusieShowWeddings.com!

Huelsman Client of the Month

Celebrating those businesses and organizations I have the privilege to help and serve! Each month, I’ll showcase one of my current clients, going in order from longest-serving to my more recent clientele.

Trowbridge Online

Way, way back in 2003 or so, I developed a custom, from-scratch content management system (CMS) I affectionately called “The Web Manager” (this was before there was even a term for “CMS”). The idea was simple; leverage a single codebase to develop a potentially-infinite number of smaller websites. At one point I had about fifty clients for the system. Then, DotNetNuke came along and I eventually migrated all of my sites to that.

One of my earlier “Web Manager” sites was TrowbridgeOnline.com, owned and operated by Joe McFarland of Waunakee. Joe has run his own commercial real estate development and management company since 1986 and, in 2003, was one of the first to sign-on with me. I would rebuild his site in DNN around 2011 and again in WordPress in 2018. Through the years, Joe has been a great client to work for and I greatly value his continued business!

Serving the Greater Madison area since 1986, The Trowbridge Group offers office space to lease, office warehouse space to lease as well as build to suit and lease to own opportunities. Give them a call at 608-849-9789 to talk about your next commercial development project!


Photo Credit: Header photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash