On Feb. 25 and 26, some TDS Internet Service e-mail customers experienced delays in sending and receiving email messages.
A few intermittent delays continued through Feb. 28, but for the majority of customers, e-mail activity resumed to normal by Feb. 27. The delays were caused in part by widespread Phishing attempts. Phishing is the sending of fraudulent e-mails by hackers. They pretend to be from a reputable company, often trying to gain information from customers by demanding personal and account information.
Phishing attacks can happen to any company; it's become a common cyber-crime in our digital age. It has the attention of U.S. Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) who have introduced legislation to authorize state law enforcement officials, as well as, various federal agencies to sue and prosecute parties that engage in "Phishing".
For TDS, the series of Phishing attempts may have contributed to an extreme amount of e-mail traffic passing through the TDS network, causing temporary e-mail delays for both business and residential customers. TDS Internet Web Browsing Service was not impacted, only email services were involved.
As a result of the e-mail issues, incoming calls to the TDS Internet Support increased dramatically and caused extended hold times for customers as they tried to report their issues.
"A few times we had hold times reach over an hour at our Internet Support Team, which was obviously a great concern for us. We measure our success on delivering timely customer care," said Dave Wittwer, president and CEO of TDS Telecommunications Corp.
Fighting cyber-crime, such as the Phishing attacks recently experienced by TDS, is an effort a company shares with its customers. Customers can lessen the impact of these attacks by staying alert, reporting suspicious emails you receive, keeping strong passwords and keeping personal information secured.
How do you create a strong password? Here are a few tips:
* Use at least eight characters
* Use upper AND lower case (a-Z)
* Use at least one numeric character (0-9)
* Use at least one special character
* Don't use a space within the password
* Your password should not be "password"
* It should not contain the username or your personal name
* An example of an strong password is: eXample2%
Quick Phishing Tips:
Do not respond to Phishing emails in any way, not even to type, "take me off the list", or "unsubscribe", because it validates your email address to the hacker. Simply delete all emails from unknown or suspicious sources.
Call the company at a trusted number, such as the one on your bill, to verify it's a valid request, if you are unsure.
Use a variety of strong passwords with different companies you do business.
Report Phishing e-mails and SPAM to your service provider or virus programs. Do not forward Phishing emails to warn your friends, it only feeds the system.