Tag Archives: Internet Safety

  • 3

Avoiding Phishing

Category:Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Social Networking,Uncategorized Tags : 

phishing

What’s the easiest way to break into a computer account?

Cracking the password? Putting a trojan on the computer? Hacking? Unfortunately, it’s simply tricking you into giving up your password through a technique known as phishing.

Computers have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers using different types of malware. However, your attacker is as likely to come after you through “social engineering” as they are through malware. Just as our computers have vulnerabilities, we too are susceptible to attack!

Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks are attempts to trick you into revealing private information. Successful attacks may result in identity theft and loss of funds. Social engineering attacks take a number of different forms, including phishing attempts, work at home scams, and Nigerian 419 schemes. Attackers often take advantage of current events, such as the tsunami that hit Japan.

Phishing

This article deals with one type of online scam—phishing attempts. Phishing is a common technique in identity theft. We’ve all received phishing emails or instant messages that appear to link to a legitimate site. These emails and web sites are designed to capture personal information, such as bank account passwords, social security numbers and credit card numbers. Losses to phishing attempts are estimated to be as high as $500M every year.

How Phishing Works

  1. Phishers send out millions of emails disguised as official correspondence from a financial institution, e-tailer, ISP, etc.
  2. You receive the phishing attempt in your email.
  3. After opening the email, you click on the link to access your financial account.
  4. Clicking on the link takes you to a web site that looks just like a legitimate site.
  5. At this point, you enter your account and password information, which is captured by the person who sent out the phishing attempt.

Phishing emails used to be easy to recognize because of their poor spelling and grammar. Now, phishing emails are often indistinguishable from official correspondence. Anyone can put together a phishing attack using resources (or kits) purchased on the Internet.

Practice Safe Computing

Safe computing practices are the best defense against phishing. Here are a few safety tips:

  • Never click on links directly from an email. Type the address into the address bar or go to the institution’s web site and navigate to the correct location.
  • Use File/Properties to find out which website you’re really on. You can check the properties from the file menu or by right-clicking on the web page and selecting Properties.
  • Look for the proper symbol to indicate you’re on a secure web site. Secure web sites use a technique called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that ensures the connection between you and the web site is private. This is indicated by “https://” instead of “https://” at the beginning of the address AND by a padlock icon which must be found either at the right end of the address bar or in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window. A padlock appearing anywhere else on the page does not represent a secure site.

Browser Helpers and other Software Solutions

Although avoiding phishing attempts is typically a matter of following safe practices, there are a number of browser helpers available to help warn you of suspicious web sites. Browser helpers normally work as another toolbar in your browser. Use one or more for your protection:

  • The Netcraft Toolbar displays information about a web site including whether it is a new site (typical of phishing) and which country hosts it. If you’re visiting a United States banking site and the Netcraft Toolbar displays a Russian flag, you’re probably at a phishing site. The Netcraft Toolbar also works like a neighborhood watch community, blocking access to member-reported phishing sites.
  • McAfee Site Advisor adds icons to your search results indicating the relative safety of sites you’re visiting.
  • Internet Explorer and Firefox also provide limited protection by denying access to many known phishing sites. Firefox and Chrome integrate Google Safe Browsing technology.
Enhanced by Zemanta

  • 5

Parenting in the Cyber Age: A Parents’ Guide to Safer Social Networking

Category:Cyberstalking,Facebook,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,Risk,Social Networking,Uncategorized Tags : 

At the computer
Are you as a parent worried about what your kids may encounter online? Are you unsure of how they or you can stay safe online when using social networking sites?  Although our kids are now college grads, we had the same concerns about the dangers our kids faced online as most of you do.

In my professional life, I’m a technical communicator at a large private technology university. I am responsible for making staff and students aware of information security issues—a role which has probably made me even more paranoid about the dangers out there on the Internet!

I’ve also had the opportunity to take part in a few K-12 Cyber Security Awareness initiative that gave me an opportunity to talk to teachers and parents about online issues and listen to their questions and concerns. I’ll address some of these concerns in this post. I am also interested in what you would like to know about security issues, so please comment on this post.

Oh…one other thing…my goal is to make this topic understandable for the average layperson. You do not need to be a technology expert to learn how to stay safe online and to keep your kids safe!

Social Networking Concerns

In the last several years, teens and young adults have flocked to social networking sites or blogging sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. This has given them opportunities to meet and communicate with people of similar interests, share information, gather numerous “friends,” share pictures and videos, and even discuss important issues. (Most of these social networking sites are inappropriate for preteens. Although most social networking sites require members to be at least 13, enforcement is next to impossible.)

Risks and Preventive Measures

Sharing Private information—It is extremely easy for unscrupulous people to gain access to you and your children’s private information. When your kids use social networking sites, read the site’s privacy policy. It tells you what information the owners of the web site collect, and how they intend to use it. Make sure that you and your kids understand how that information may be shared.

Profiles—Encourage your kids to guard their information. Keep private information private. Ask them to restrict access to their profiles, when possible, to “friends only.”

You may find that it’s hard for teenagers to take this seriously and understand the risks. Help them choose screen names carefully. Help them choose a reasonably “complex” password—at least 8 characters using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols (when allowed).

Blogs—Encourage your kids to not share personal information, including their ages, schools, addresses, phone numbers, and parent and sibling names. Make sure they’re not posting information about their social plans. (Don’t give someone who is cyber stalking them information about where they’ll be at a given time.)

Moderating Comments—Ask your kids to approve comments by their friends before they allow them to be posted. Their friends may be less than careful with both their own and your kids’ information.

Inappropriate language and pictures—College admissions offices and potential employers search online to see what kind of information prospective students and employees post online, especially in social networking sites. If they see what appear to be “character issues” portrayed, your teens may not be accepted for their college or job of choice.

Making themselves a target—People can pose as anybody online. That 15-year-old friend might be a 45-year-old male looking for “company.” Sexual predators use social networking sites to identify and engage potential victims. Identity thieves look for private information to use to gain access to victim’s bank accounts or credit.

It’s forever—There is another big problem most of us do not think about. Information we post online NEVER really goes away. Even when you delete a blog entry or a picture, it is “cached” somewhere on the Internet. There are sites on the Internet that specialize in archiving other Web sites.

What you can do

  1. Talk to your kids.
  2. Ask them to help you set up your own profile and page on the same sites they use.
  3. Subscribe to their blogs and read what they are posting.
  4. Respond to their posts.
  5. Look at the pictures they have chosen to share.
  6. Find out who their friends are and see what kind of information they share.
  7. If you have a family computer, try to put it in an open area where you can see your kids’ online activities.
  8. If your family has multiple computers sharing an internet connection through a router, you may want to consider restricting the times their computers can connect to the Internet. Restricting access to reasonable hours helps ensure that they (or you) are not spending all night online.

My philosophy as a parent has been to teach my children how to interact with the world while maintaining their spiritual values. Despite your best efforts, your children are going to encounter these dangers at some time. In my experience, you cannot prevent them from doing something they are intent on doing.

Let’s make sure they know how to protect themselves now, before they’re in an environment where we aren’t there to supervise or teach these lessons.

An earlier version of this article was published previously in Christian Computing Magazine.
Enhanced by Zemanta

  • 2

How Much Does Facebook Know About You? The Two Facebook Dogs Revisited

Category:Facebook,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,techcomm,Uncategorized Tags : 
I attended RIT’s Faculty Institute for Teaching and Learning this week. Mark Greenfield, SUNY Buffalo, delivered a keynote on “Born to be Wired: Technology, Communication, and the Millennial Generation.” There was a lot of useful content, and I encourage you to follow Mark Greenfield on Twitter (@markgr) and check out his resources posted on Delicious.
Among the many things Mark discussed was the ongoing issue of Facebook privacy settings and how difficulty they are to administer properly. He shared Rob Cottingham’s recent Noise to Signal Cartoon with us.


Noise to Signal Cartoon

Rob Cottingham had done an earlier cartoon on the subject as well:

Rob Cottingham was inspired by the famous Peter Steiner cartoon.

Does any of this matter to you?

How much do you worry about how Facebook handles your information? When you post on Facebook, do you think about who might have access to your information? Have you given up on protecting your privacy online?

I can only wonder what the next cartoon will be.

Related Links



  • 9

Ten Ways to Shockproof Your Use of Social Networking Lightning Talk

Category:Cyberstalking,Facebook,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Presentations,Privacy,Risk,Social Networking,STC,Summit,Uncategorized Tags : 

I had the privilege of presenting my 25-minute presentation on Shockproofing Your Use of Social Media as a five-minute Lightning Talk at the STC Summit in Sacramento on May 18th.

Lightning talks introduce an additional element of stress for the presenters: the slides advance every 15 seconds whether they’re ready or not. Our audience was ~150 Summit attendees, so we were presenting to our peers as well.

It’s quite the experience sharing the stage with eight other presenters with totally different styles. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Other STC Summit 2011 Lightning Talks

Enhanced by Zemanta

  • 0

Digital Self Defense for Technical Communicators, Part Three

Category:Cyberstalking,Facebook,Higher Education,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,Risk,Social Networking,STC,STC Rochester Tags : 

Digital Self Defense for Technical Communicators was first published in the Society for Technical Communication‘s Intercom magazine in November 2010.

How We’ve Communicated These Concepts at RIT

Higher education is a mix of cutting-edge and legacy computing systems. Unlike many large companies, most universities and colleges continue to use computing equipment well past its retirement age. At the other end of the spectrum, faculty and students always want the newest technology available. Securing such a heterogeneous environment is a challenge. With limited resources, RIT needed to find a way to reach a large user population that may be indifferent to security issues. Even worse, these users might consider themselves to be “experts,” especially because this is a technology university that attracts some of the brightest students.

To communicate digital security issues to RIT students, faculty, and administrators, we used standard communications vehicles such as a series of brochures on Internet safety topics and computer security requirements, email alerts and advisories for specific threats, and an RIT Information Security website containing electronic copies of the materials. We also used some more innovative methods, such as classes, social media, and community discussion and messaging.

Digital Self Defense

We developed a series of Digital Self Defense classes that we offered to faculty and staff. We advertised these classes through email, using every cliché about safe Internet use that we could think of. The initial class, “Introduction to Digital Self Defense,” was instructor led and primarily a presentation with discussion. In that class, we focused on communicating desktop, portable computer, and password standards. We also discussed safe Internet use.

New Student Orientation

Although the Digital Self Defense classes developed a strong following among faculty and especially staff, it was not an appropriate vehicle for reaching students. Recognizing that security awareness is a multi-year project, we developed an “up tempo” presentation to focus on three areas of concern to students: Safe Computing, Illegal File Sharing, and Safe Social Networking.

We discussed the various technical requirements for using computers at RIT after setting the stage by talking about the various threats students might face and the role of organized crime in creating malware. We incorporated video resources that illustrated key concepts or provided a “friendly” way to introduce concepts that we knew would be hotly debated by the students, such as illegal file sharing. To help students understand the need for safe social networking, we discussed examples of risky student Internet behavior at RIT and other universities. We also used videos to reinforce the importance of being selective about what information you place online.

Social Media

We established Facebook and Twitter accounts for the RIT Information Security Office designed to reach students. To build our fan base, we advertised the site through posters and emails, and we kick off each fall by entering students who become fans of the RIT Information Security Facebook page in a drawing for a $100 gift card. Over a three-year period, we gained almost 4,000 fans. We used the Facebook page to post articles about safe social networking and to engage fans in discussions about information security issues.

Phishy

RIT's Information Security Office mascot, Phishy, with Ritchie the Tiger

Phishing

Over the past couple of years, higher education has seen an increase in phishing attempts, known in the industry as “spear phishing.” Spear phishing targets a specific group of individuals by crafting emails or other “bait” that appear to come from a known and trusted source, such as a school’s information technology department. In 2009, RIT saw a string of phishing attempts that had, from our view, a success rate that was unacceptable. (As much as we’d like to block all phishing attempts and train our community to recognize and ignore such password requests, someone always falls for a well-crafted phish.)

Unsure of how best to combat the threat, we formed a team of our best information technology thinkers to address the issue. We chose a multipronged approach with both technology and people initiatives. We increased our email alerts and advisories to inform the community of the problem. Our Information Technology Services organization began prepending a warning message to all incoming emails that contained the word “password” in the text. However, we knew that this wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem. In conjunction with a poster campaign adapted from Yale University, our student employees wore a fish costume around campus; “Phishy” was an instant hit. Phishy reminded students to never respond to requests for their passwords. Although we haven’t been able to stop everyone from responding to phishing attempts, we usually see only a few people respond now.

Lessons Learned

Different messages require different vehicles. Faculty and staff may still use email as a primary means of communication. Students, however, get much of their information from social networking, so that’s where we need to be to reach them.

REFERENCES

“Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids.” (www.theonion.com/video/facebook-twitter-revolutionizing-how-parents-stalk,14364/).

Moscaritolo, Angela. “InfoSec: 23 percent of users fall for spear phishing.” SC Magazine. 9 March 2009. (www.scmagazineus.com/infosec-23-percent-of-users-fall-for-spear-phishing/article/128480/).

Nation, Joe. “Facebook Mini Feeds with Steve.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=w35cFqG4qLk).

RIT Information Security website (https://security.rit.edu).

RIT Information Security Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RITInfosec).

“Sophos Facebook ID probe shows 41% of users happy to reveal all to potential identity thieves.” 14 August 2007 (https://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2007/08/facebook.html).


Enhanced by Zemanta

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,234 other subscribers

Categories

Support Introverted Leadership on Patreon

Blubrry affiliate banner