act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing emails may contain links to websites that are infected with malware. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.
A study carried out by North Carolina State University discovered that 92.5% of participants failed to detect fraudulent emails.
The findings are alarming given the growing personalisation of phishing attacks, in which scammers try to lure personal and proprietary information out of victims by posing as entities such as banks, airlines, stores and government agencies.
If you are unsure whether an email is legitimate or not, first check the email address the message was sent from and do not click on any links.
Recently the New York Times published a piece on privacy in the era of big data. Asking questions such as:
who owns email correspondence between two people? (as someone who has accidentally found that a friend routinely forwards my private emails to others, this is a real issue.)
can we control the way we’re portrayed if other people post photos of us?
why should we have to make an effort to keep conversations private that were formerly private by default?
Social media researcher danah boys says
“Regulation is coming,” she says. “You may not like it, you may close your eyes and hold your nose, but it is coming.”
The issue is what the regulation looks like, and how well it is considered. “Technologists need to re-engage with regulators,” she says. “We need to get to a model where we really understand usage.” Right now, even among the highest geek circles, “we have very low levels of computational literacy, data literacy, media literacy, and all of these are contributing to the fears.”
As always, laws need to play catch-up with what is happening in the world of technology and regulation could be some time coming.
A few days ago Mashable reported on McAfee’s study into the online behaviour of teenagers. Although US based, this gives us a reasonable idea of how Australian teenagers are using the internet.
70% of teens are hiding their online behavior from their parents, up from 45% in 2010. What exactly teens are hiding runs the gamut, but across the board parents are in the dark about most of their kids’ online activity.
For example, 48.1% of teens admitted to looking up assignments and test answers online, while 77.2% of their parents said they don’t worry about their kids cheating in school.
And while 32% of teens surveyed have accessed pornographic content online, only 12% of their parents thought they had.
Similarly, 51% of teens reported that they have hacked someone’s social media account and 31% reported pirating movies and music. Meanwhile, less than 1 in 10 parents surveyed were aware that their children engaged in these illegal activities.
The study found that teens are getting creative with how they hide their online content and activity—a majority of teens (53%) regularly clear their browser history to keep their parents out of the loop. Twenty-four percent of teens went so far as to either create private email addresses unknown to their parents or create duplicate/fake social media profiles.
Despite an overwhelming sentiment of “not my kid” denial, parents are stepping up their game with online monitoring in an attempt to keep their kids out of trouble. Many are setting parental controls (49%), obtaining email and social network passwords (44%) and even using location-based devices to keep track of teens (10%). Still, nearly a quarter of parents surveyed admitted that they are so overwhelmed with technology that they can’t monitor their children’s online behaviors and are simply hoping for the best.
Other key findings of the study included statistics indicating a rise in cyberbullying, and Facebook proves to be the epicenter. Sixty-two percent of teens have witnessed cruel behavior online, and 93% of them say that it took place on Facebook.
Yesterday Facebook changed the primary email address that users had signed up with. Without informing users first, a new facebook.com email address replaced previous primary email addresses for all users.
To change the email address, a user should click on the “About” link on their main Timeline page, then click on the Edit button next to the “Contact Info” box. Although users can change which email address is shown on their Timelines, the facebook email address cannot be deleted, only hidden.
Google has developed a one minute video to show how to identify fake emails from real ones. Often we can tell by ourselves; it’s usually unlikely that we’ve won several million British pounds in a lottery we never entered. But as some phishers are getting more audacious, this video might help you spot the fakes.