Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Don't Get "Phished" out of Cyberspace

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Don't Get "Phished" out of Cyberspace

Article excerpt

Don't do it. Don't click on links in any e-mail messages you receive that ask or demand you to update your credit card, bank, Social Security or other financial information, or verify your password at eBay, PayPal or other e-commerce Web sites. If you do, in all likelihood you'll wind up spending many tedious hours trying to recover your stolen identity.

You may have heard this all before, but many people still haven't. Identity theft via bogus e-mail links, or "phishing," is escalating, with criminals becoming ever more brazen and sophisticated in their online schemes to trick people into revealing their personal information.

Warn anybody you know who uses a computer about this, particularly those who may not be as tech-savvy.

If you've noticed an increase in these assaults lately, you're right. The number of phishing attacks against e-mail users has been doubling every two months, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group .

People do get scammed. Phishing messages that appear to be sent by trusted companies dupe 3 percent of the people who receive them, according to a survey by Gartner Inc. Phishing cost U.S. banks and credit card companies $1.2 billion last year alone, costs that ultimately are passed on to you, the consumer.

The tricksters are learning new tricks. One of the latest scams involves "context-aware" phishing, according to Dr. Markus Jakobsson, a cybersecurity expert at Indiana University School of Informatics. The e-mail message makes it seem that it must be legitimate because of the knowledge about you or your work or personal relationships that it contains.

The e-mail might seem to come from your boss or a trusted colleague warning you of a new Internet security threat involving your specific credit card company or bank and telling you to go to its Web site to change your password. Just to be "helpful," the sender provides you with a link in the e-mail message.

But if you click on the link, you'll be taken to a bogus Web site that looks just like the legitimate Web site. So you won't even think twice about typing in your login name and current password, thereby allowing the scammer to charge your credit card or empty your bank account.

With these, as well as more garden-variety phishing e-mails that appear to come from the company itself, the most commonly named companies, in order, are Citibank, eBay, U.S. Bank and PayPal, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. But customers of other well-known companies are being targeted too, including AOL, Lloyd's, Wells Fargo and VISA. …

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