Posted by: Matt | February 11, 2008

I’m worried. I’m worried because of an article I read in today’s Irish Times. I’m worried by an article about the dangers we all face online. I’m worried by the content in this article. What content has me so worried? Was it the line that states matter-of-factly

“New research has shown that the average home computer with internet access is attacked almost 300 times a day”?

Nuh-uh.

Was it the definition of pharming – “…a particularly dangerous form of phishing where hackers direct people to legitimate sites such as banks, but users are then redirected and their details are stolen.”

Nope.

How about this one?

“[Minister for Communications] Mr Ryan said that last week he was “half-way” to entering his bank details in response to an e-mail request before he realised he was dealing with fraudsters.”

Oh yeah, that’s the one! Our minister for communications, Mr. Eamonn Ryan had to think twice before responding to an unsolicited e-mail requesting his personal information. This despite the fact that he apparently sees these type of messages all the time (assuming he does indeed work with computers, which I bloody well hope he does given that over 50% of the population are internet users as of 2005)

“If you work with computers you’ll see these types of messages all the time,” he said. “It was totally plausible. These messages are getting more sophisticated and more credible.”

I can understand Mary from BallyGoBackwards might not know what phishing is, and an information campaign directed at such folk like her is a good thing. But according to the article – “Research has shown that despite the threat, a third of internet users do not know what phishing is. “

Really? One third. I could be generous and assume that the one third may not have heard the term (personally I hate it, and don’t get me started about that ‘pharming’ term) but that most know well enough not to give out personal information over e-mail. Somehow I doubt that my generous reading above is entirely true though.

But the main point is this. The minister for communications, whose job it is to be in charge of overseeing the implementation, administration and regulation of secure and reliable communications networks and systems is almost stupid enough to give out his bank details because he got an e-mail that asked for them. Good Lord! No wonder we’re way behind the rest of the world in our broadband usage.

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