“CONGRATULATIONS: YOU HAVE WON …. “ to be continued

In my previous post about the threats of  mass mails, I’ve mentioned about the risk of revealing your personal data when replying to mass mails. More specifically, it could be a mail from an organization stating that you have won their lottery game and you should be awarded. It could be a mail from your bank stating about the recent problems with your account and asking for your personal data so that they could have proper resolution … There are so many types of tricks to steal your personal data. However, they share the main goal, which is to reach your resources. This is considered as identity theft and I would like to extend my previous post through discussing more about identity theft.

Identity theft, also known as ID theft is a crime in which a criminal obtains key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, to obtain credit, merchandise, and services using the victims’ name. Identity theft is not a new crime. It has simply mutated to include new technology such as ATMs and transactions on the World Wide Web. The automation of both credit card and banking transactions has made it easier to steal a person’s identity. A credit card is almost always used nowadays as part of a way to verify a person’s identity.  If another person has it in his or her possession and can display it to pretend that he or she is you, then your identity is successfully stolen. This also enables the criminal to steal money by opening up new credit card accounts and running up charges on them.

Arguably, the most common identity theft is phishing scam. In a phishing scam, a company or individual creates an email that appears to be from a respected financial institution – your bank or a website where you might have an account. Phishing scams began in the mid-1990s not to obtain bank or credit card information, but to get free online access. In those days, ISPs like AOL charged by the minute. Phishers would try to obtain AOL members login user id and passwords by sending e-mails appearing to come from AOL’s member services department.  The fake email would ask recipients to verify their user names and passwords. The scammers would then log on, using the victims’ accounts, and run up a bill. Phishers target a variety of customers: from CitiBank (which is currently used in 54 per cent of phishing messages) to AOL, Amazon.com, Ebay, PayPal and others.

At first glance, phishing emails and the associated websites may appear completely legitimate. One recent phishing attempt in the U.S. used the names of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and two of its officials, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. What Internet users may not realize is that criminals can easily copy logos and other information from legitimate businesses’ websites and place them in phishing emails or bogus websites. Additionally, if the recipient of a phishing email clicks on a link it contains, the window of the Internet browser that opens may contain what looks like the true Internet address of a legitimate business or financial institution. Unfortunately, some phishing schemes have exploited a vulnerability in the Internet Explorer browser that allows phishers to set up a fake website at one place on the Internet, which will make it appear as if the Internet user is accessing a legitimate website at another place on the Internet. Most phishing emails include false statements intended to create the impression that there is an immediate threat or risk to the bank, credit card or financial account of the recipient. The phony FDIC emails mentioned above falsely claimed that the Secretary of Homeland Security had advised the FDIC to suspend all federal deposit insurance on the recipients’ bank accounts. Other recent phishing emails have falsely claimed that the recipients’ credit card was being used by another person or that a recent credit card transaction had been declined. As another example, a mass email circulated in the summer of 2004 advising customers of a leading Canadian financial institution, which had experienced information technology problems, that they needed to enter their client card numbers in order to access their accounts. In fact, the email was not sent or authorized by that financial institution. In some cases, phishing emails have promised the recipients a prize or other special benefit.

Although the message sounds attractive rather than threatening, the objective is the same: to trick recipients into disclosing their financial and personal data. People who receive phishing emails are also likely to realize that the senders may have used spamming techniques (mass emailing) to send the message to thousands of people. Many of the people who receive that spammed email do not have an account or customer relationship with the legitimate business or financial services company that is purportedly the originator of the email. The people who create phishing emails count on the fact that some recipients of those emails will have an account or customer relationship with the legitimate business, and may be more likely to believe that the email has come from a trusted source. Ultimately, people who respond to phishing emails may be putting their accounts and financial status at risk in three significant ways. Firstly, phishers can use the data to access existing accounts to withdraw money or purchase expensive merchandise or services. Secondly, phishers can use the data to open new bank or credit card accounts in the victim’s name, but use addresses other than that of the victim. Finally, the Internet users may not realize that they have become victims of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission has provided a great deal of information about spamming scams, how to recognize them, stop them, report spam, and protect our identity. Though this phenomenon has been mentioned from times to times growing problem, so many people still naively click links inside emails and give away their account information. We can go along way toward protecting our identity by using some common sense right now.




Internet Monitoring over Kids (to be continued) …..

The internet has become a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to read school reports, communicate with friends and play interactive games. Internet has become more and more a linking bridge for kids with the big world outside. Unfortunately, that bridge could involve huge potential hazards. For example, an 8-year-old kid might do an online search for “Lego.” But with just one missed keystroke, the word “Legs” is entered instead, and the child may be directed to a slew of websites with a focus on legs — some of which may contain pornographic material.

What will happen to that kid in such scenario? It will obviously have bad impact on him. And who knows through time, if there is no in time prevention and action from his parents, to what extent those risks will affect his development of characteristics.

Therefore, it has become a huge phenomenon in our society nowadays that parents need to be aware the interactions of their kids on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online. Just like any safety issue, parents take advantage of resources to protect their kids and keep a close eye on their activities. That is the reason why there are now more and more tools available especially for monitoring kids.

However, such way of protection can’t be simply the all-in-one solution for potential risks. For many teens, text messages or cell phone calls are the primary form of communication with their friends. Then how parents will monitor them? Waiting for new monitoring tools developed in the industry to keep on monitoring their kids? Well, that would be the equivalent of a parent in days past surreptitiously picking up the extension in another room to eavesdrop on a child’s conversation.

Parents should take in consideration their inability to keep up with the time in terms of technology while allowing your children to be exposed too many kinds of new technology so that children outpace them by leaps and bounds. Thus is not only doing parents a disservice – it’s doing one to their children as well. Kids may know their way around the social Web and cell phones better than their parents, but they haven’t fully developed their interpersonal and social skills in a way that allows them to handle the issues that will inevitably come up.

I believe the best way that parents could support their children is to help them learn and grow on her path to independence, which includes staying informed on all trends, both technology and otherwise. Parents who can’t be bothered to figure out what that “tweet thing” is all about or what “sexting” is should not think this is a badge of honor to wear proudly, as if it makes them more mature somehow. It should be a signal that the world has surged ahead and they’ve been left behind in its wake.

Parents should not make this a socio-economic issue, either. If they can’t afford a computer or cell phone, then neither can your child. However, he or she may have access to them at friends’ houses or at school or even access to them via your public library. Many public libraries offer free computer classes, too. The children could even take one together. Let the lack of technology comprehension guide kids to a learning experience that helps them both, instead of being an issue where their children are left unsupervised because their parents don’t know what they are doing.

Yes, in a world plenty of risks of cyber bullying, sexting and other dangerous behaviors, monitoring tools do show their efficiency in protecting kids. That claim may be true to a point, but is keeping track of each chatting passage, reading each and every text message the best way to counteract these behaviors? For that matter, should parents be spying on their kids to this extent at all? Is this level of spying the right way to parent, though? There are alternates of course: Parents could educate their children instead, do spot checks to keep them on their toes, friend them on Facebook and elsewhere across the Web, and keep the computer in a public area of the home.

Parental spyware, however, should be turned to as the last alternative.


Being an Internet user, you have certainly got used to NEWS like “Congratulation”, “You won”, “Donation” pops up or mails coming from nowhere. I’m myself receiving several mails like that a week and even some a day.

It is now a usual scenario when people call in the name and tell that the person has won a huge  amount of money  since his number was chosen in the lottery or his card was chosen and even though they are directly contacting him, they are still playing so wonderful games.  Many people think it is time their luck coming as the number they tell is correct and then such people fall in bad traps. By replying or doing anything to this kind of email, cyber criminals can hack your email account if you are using online banking and reveal your personal information, your bank account is at risk of hacking.

Has YAHOO or MSN & MICROSOFT WINDOWS had any method to warn their users about this risk? Not yet. So far what users can do is to manually use spam filters. There is still no law claiming that it is illegal to cheat people through such kind of spam. Therefore, there has been some cases that the victims finally have to turn to police for help. It’s time to take actions against this kind of widespread cram rather than let non-experienced users wonder about their sudden luck and get cheated.


This phenomenon should have something to deal with the big question that my tutor raised in the discussing time. His question was that between virtual rape and cheating online, which one is more severe. In my opinion, virtual raping or any kinds of motional harassment should leave moral hurt but it has nothing to do with economic perspective.  For online cheating, it does harm both sides.  At the first time I’ve ever received such spam, I got excited about the sudden luck but confused on the other hand. I did think much about that mail and I am quite sure people first time receiving it do too.  Thus does make users upset and a bit angry when finding cheated just like the way that virtual harassment hurts people’s feelings. But that’s just the virtual life, based on some opinions, as we can choose to ignore, delete or choose a new avatar (for virtual rape case) and it does no real harm to us eventually.

To me, on the contrary, it’s a potential risk. It may temporarily cause no harm but will certainly do for non-experienced users in near future unless there are actions in time against it. It will no longer be virtual if some day, your email or bank account gets hacked and your privacy contacts or money get violated. The boundary between virtual and real crime is not clear enough. For such kind of cyber crime, as long as they can make money from it, they will continue.

Internet Monitoring over Kids …

Safe Computer Kids – Internet Monitoring

The video shows a recent problem, which started approximately two decades ago, about children growing up with computers and having easy access to the Internet from anywhere and at anytime. The issue seems so complicated that even parental monitoring is not possible every time.

Moreover, with the computer at their disposal, it is easier for kids to meet strangers online especially if the computer is placed in the kid’s bedroom. The kid gets complete privacy to do whatever he wishes. And it gets easier to plan out something notorious or dangerous.

Parental check is so far considered as the biggest solution to this issue. It is the parent’s job to make sure what the child is doing while surfing the web. Parents take out some time to discuss what new findings they have made through the web. At the end of the day, preventing their child from cyber crime is in their hands.

This clip reminds me of the Ryan’s case that the professor mentioned in the first day of our class. Not only Ryan, but probably many other kids might have been saved from cyber crime if their parents turned to such ICT softwares earlier.

However, Are those ICT softwares appropriate tools to protect kids from cyber crime?

I start to wonder whether this is a great solution and if all parents use it to check on their children,how will the kids react ? Is it acceptable and legal to give parents the rights to keep track of their kids online activities on a daily basis ? I myself believe “No”  and that is another kind of crime, privacy violation.