At too many government agencies and companies, the security mindset, even though it’s never spoken, is that “We’re not a prime target, our data isn’t super-sensitive.” Wrong. The reality is that every piece of personal data adds to the picture that potential criminals or state-sponsored actors are painting of individuals.

And that makes your data a target. “Just because you think your data isn’t useful, don’t assume it’s not valuable to someone, because they’re looking for columns, not rows,” says Hayri Tarhan, Oracle regional vice president for public sector security.

Here’s what Tarhan means by columns not rows: Imagine that the bad actors are storing information in a database (which they probably are). What hackers want in many data breaches is more information about people already in that database. They correlate new data with the old, using big data techniques to fill in the columns, matching up data stolen from different sources to form a more-complete picture.

That picture is potentially much more important and more lucrative than finding out about new people and creating new, sparsely populated data rows. So, every bit of data, no matter how trivial it might seem, is important when it comes to filling the empty squares.

Read more about this – and how machine learning can help – in my article in Forbes, “Data Thieves Want Your Columns—Not Your Rows.”

Yeah, I’m not worried, not when an email like this goes to an “info@” email address that I monitor. It’s a scam: The link goes to a site that tries to sell you background information on people. Don’t click on messages like this, don’t reply. Simply delete them and move on.

From: “Public Records Service” email hidden; JavaScript is required
Subject: Attn: A negative item may have been added to your public record. Msg #452932
Reply-To: email hidden; JavaScript is required

ATTN: 3 Negative Items posted to your public-record(s)

Bad Things From Your Past Have Been Posted Online. These are currently viewable by anybody

Your life could be ruined and it’s important you view this….

*All records: Updated when court-records are made public

*Link above is secure & will-expire in 48 hours.

I received two spams on the same day, and with the exact same subject line. The messages, however, are quite different, and are quite laughably bad. Even so, don’t reply to such messages, even if it’s tempting to correct their grammar or spelling. The best thing to do is delete the messages.

Both messages are pushing ATM cards, and urge you to forward other spam attempts to them. As the second message says, “Help stop cyber crime.”

Here’s the first message. It’s amusing how Mr. Steve Cox, the signatory of the email, refers to himself in the third person.

From: “Mr. Steve Cox”email hidden; JavaScript is required
Reply-To: email hidden; JavaScript is required


NOTE: If you received this message in your SPAM/BULK folder, it is because of the restrictions imposed by your Mail/Internet Service Provider, we urge you to treat it genuinely.

How are you today? Hope all is well with you and family? You may not understand why this email came to you. In regards to the recent meeting between the United Nations, Cyber Crimes Commission (CCc), Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) and the United States Government to restore the dignity and Economy ofa Nations based on the Agreement with the World Bank Assistance Project to help and make the world a better place. We have been having meetings for the past 3 months with the Secretary General of the United Nations.

This email come to those who are yet to receive their compensation/inheritance/winnings and who have been scammed in any part of the world, this includes every foreign contractors that may have not received their contract sum, and people that have had an unfinished transaction or Compensation payments that failed due to Government problems etc. Recently we the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) arrested internet fraudsters and Scammer with large amount of money so if you are receiving this email its means you where select to be compensated as a scam victim among 100 selected victims with part of the money recover from the internet fraudsters account, . The UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate you with the sum of $9,000.000.00 USD (NINE MILLION DOLLARS).

100 people where selected across the Globe for this MIDDLE OF THE YEAR COMPENSATION and Your email was in the list submitted by our Monitoring Team observers and this is why we are contacting you, this have been agreed upon and have been signed, so you are advised to contact Mr. Steve Cox of the United Nations Compensation Commission, as he is our representative in United State Of America. Contact him immediately for your Compensation payment of $9,000.000.00 USD (NINE MILLION DOLLARS) which will be released directly to you in accordance with legal clearance and procedures.

It is my pleasure to inform you that your ATM Card Number; 4000128498979908 have been approved in your favor. Your Personal Identification Number is 6062. The ATM Card Value is $9,000.000.00 USD (NINE MILLION DOLLARS) You are advised that a most withdrawal value of $15,000.00 USD is permitted on withdrawal per Day and we are duly Inter Switch and you can make withdrawal in any Inter Switch site and ATM Center of your choice.

However, you should send him your

Full Name/
Telephone Number/
your Residential Address/
New email address for this safety of this transaction

Contact Mr. Steve Cox immediately for your compensation payment:

Mr. Steve Cox
Director- General,
ATM Card Payment
Washington Field Office
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Telephone number : +1(253)271-4136

He is obliged to give you a call and treat your case with utmost urgency as soon as you contact him and fill out your correct details including all reachable phone numbers for him to get in touch with you via phone and email.

NOTE: Under normal circumstances the collection of your ATM CARD the IMF and the Finance Ministry insisted that you pay for the DELIVERY FEE ONLY of your ATM CARD via western union money transfer, which will cost you just $220 USD only, the western union or Money Gram payment receipt of $220 USD to the nominated courier company that will carry out with the delivery to your door step to be documented in your file as proof your collection. Ask Mr. Steve Cox for the instruction on how to send the delivery fee of $220 to him, Please note that the delivery fee can not be deducted from your ATM CARD due to the fact that no one has the authority to unlucky and use your ATM CARD on your behalf because you alone will be the one to first use the card for the first withdrawal with your secret code.

We also advise that you stop further communications with these imposters and forward any correspondence / proposal you receive from them to Mr. Steve Cox in other for the FBI to bring justice to them.

Good luck and kind regards,

Making the world a better place!



Mr.Steve Cox

And here is the second message:

From: “Mr. Samson Lucas” email hidden; JavaScript is required
To: Recipients email hidden; JavaScript is required
Reply-To: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Attention Beneficiary,

Records show that you are among one of the individuals and organizations who are yet to receive their overdue payment from overseas which includes those of Lottery/Gambling, Contract and Inheritance. Through our Fraud Monitory Unit we have noticed that you have been transacting with some impostors and fraudsters who have been impersonating the likes of Prof. Soludo /Mr. Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza, Bode Williams, Frank, Anderson, none officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, Kelvin Young of HSBC, Ben of FedEx, Ibrahim Sule, Dr. Usman Shamsuddeen and some impostors claiming to be The Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Cyber Crime Division of the FBI gathered information from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) on how some people have lost outrageous sums of money to these impostors. As a result of this, we hereby advise you to stop communication with any one not referred to you by us. We have negotiated with the Federal Ministry of Finance that your payment totaling $5,900,000.00(Five Million Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars). will be released to you via a custom pin based ATM card with a maximum withdrawal limit of $15,000 a day which is powered by Visa Card and can be used anywhere in the world where you see a Visa Card Logo on the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

We guarantee receipt of your payment. This is as a result of the mandate from US Government to make sure all debts owned to citizens of American and also Asia and Europe which includes Inheritance, Contract, Gambling/Lottery etc are been cleared.

To redeem your funds, you are hereby advised to contact the ATM Card Center via email for their requirement to proceed and procure your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your ATM Release Order on your behalf which will cost you $345 Usd only and nothing more as everything else has been taken care of by the Federal Government including taxes, custom paper and clearance duty so all you will ever need to pay is $345.00 only.

Mr.Samson Lucas(ATM Card Center Director)
ATM Card Center Director

Do contact of the ATM Card Center via his contact details above and furnish him with your details as listed below:

FULL NAMES: __________________________________
DATE OF BIRTH: __________________
OCCUPATION: __________________
TELEPHONE NUMBER: _____________________
EMAIL ADDRESS: _____________________

On contacting him with your details your file would be updated and he will be sending you the payment information in which you will use in making payment of $345.00 via Money Gram or Western Union Money Transfer for the procurement of your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your ATM Release Order, after which the delivery of your ATM card will be effected to your designated home address without any further delay, extra fee.

Christopher A. Wray, DIRECTOR

Note: Disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming to be in posses   of the ATM card center who is the rightful person to deal with in regards to your payment and forward any emails you get from impostors to this office so we could act upon it immediately.Help stop cyber crime.

Were they real? Were they dangerous? I’ll leave those questions to historians. However, if you believe in the Illuminati, you’re probably not going to join that secret society by responding to spam. Read, enjoy, but don’t respond to messages like this.

From: “The illuminati” email hidden; JavaScript is required

Subject: Join the illuminati

To: Recipients email hidden; JavaScript is required

Greetings, from The illuminati world elite empire. Bringing the poor, the needy and the talented to limelight of fame, riches, powers and security, get recognized in your business, political race, rise to the top in whatever you do, be protected spiritually and physically! All these you will achieve in a twinkle of an eye when you get initiated to the great Illuminati empire. Once you are initiated to the illuminati empire you will get numerous benefits and reward.

Note: that this message was created solely for the purpose of our recruitment scheme which will end next month and this offer is for unique ones only, if you are not serious on joining the illuminati empire, then you are advise not to contact us at all. This is because disloyalty is highly not tolerated here in our organization.

Do you agree to be a member of the illuminati new world order? If YES! then kindly reply us back on our direct recruitment email only at: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Please note, Kindly make sure all your response/reply are send directly to the email stated above only at: email hidden; JavaScript is required

For more instructions on our membership process.

The Illuminati.

Such a tale of woe! None of it true, of course. Sorry, you’re not going to get a share of this £17,352,110 windfall from an abandoned bank account — because it doesn’t exist. Enjoy the email, if you receive it, and then delete without responding.

From: “Dr Joseph” email hidden; JavaScript is required
Subject: Inquiry
To: Recipients email hidden; JavaScript is required
Reply-To: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Good Day,

I know this email might come as a surprise to you considering the amount of junk emails we all get on a daily basis. I can assure you that I am not one of them; I would appreciate if the content of this email is kept strictly confidential and respect the integrity of the information/content of this email. I have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction. Let me start by introducing myself, I am Mr. Douglas Joseph, an account manager here in United Kingdom. I have worked a little more than 15 years now and before I became an account manager of the Bank. I am contacting you concerning an abandoned account in the sum of over 10 million British Pounds. I was the account manager to one Engineer Philemon Juan Smith, a foreign contractor with department of works and housing who has an investment account with my bank; I encouraged him to consider various growths of funds with prime ratings. Then he invested 10million British Pound.

Based on my advice, we were able to spin the money around various opportunities and made attractive margins for the first few months of our operation. The accrued profit and interest plus capital stood at this point is over £17,352,110GBP (Seventeen million, three hundred and fifty two thousand, one hundred and ten Great Britain Pounds). In mid-2007, he instructed that the principal sum (10M British Pounds) be liquidated because he needed to make an urgent investment requiring transfer of the sum of (10M British Pounds) into his business account with my bank. We however assisted him with the transfer.

After few months; the management of my bank sent several notice to him without response, on further inquiries we found out that my client was involved in an accident in Kenya on a short visit. He has no will and no next of kin, which means he died intestate and the reason I am writing you. He died without leaving a Will and several efforts were made to find his extended family but without success. Because of the sensitive nature of private banking, most customers don’t nominate next of kin in their investment, also usually in most cases leave their WILLS in our care, in this case; the deceased client died intestate. It is quite clear now that our dear client died with no identifiable family member. According to practice, the Private banking sector will by the end of the year 2017 broadcast a request for statement of claim to my Bank, failing to receive viable claims they will probably revert the deposit to the ownership of the UK Government Treasury according to United Kingdom Banking and financial law.

I am also proposing that after a successful execution of the business deal, the funds will be shared in the ratio 50/50. You will get 50% and I will be entitled to 50%. You know that I must have done my home work already before contacting you. Although the project is CAPITAL INTENSIVE, I know I will be able to pull it through following proper banking and legal Channels with your assistance at your end. This claim will be executed without breaching any UK laws and success is guaranteed if we cooperate on this. The bank will release the account to you as the business associate to the late Mr. Philemon Juan Smith and my recommendation of you as the business associate to the deceased.

Once more, I ask that if you find no interest in this project that you should discard this mail and forget I ever contacted you, I ask that you are not being vindictive and Destructive; do not destroy my career. An opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime. I am an orphan and I need to take care of myself and family in the future and this is an opportunity for me to give myself and my future family the best.I would want you to think about this and let me know your decision because such deal happens in the banking industry but only the outside world is not aware. If you give me a positive response, I will give you the relevant INFORMATION for the successful completion of this deal and we both enjoy it in peace. All I require from you is honesty/sincerity; I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

If you give me positive signals, I will initiate this process towards a conclusion. Treat this proposal with utmost confidentially and urgency for a 100% success.

You can contact me with the above email address:


Mr. Douglas Joseph