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5 reasons why you need to be an expert to stay safe online

Introduction

Internet safety is the awareness personal information and security risks associated with using the internet. As the number of internet user grows so does the concern for internet safety. Most fraudulent activities on the internet all aim at retrieving users’ sensitive information such as personal information, identity and passwords. Loss of information like this could result in credit theft and identity theft. Causes of information security breaches include: spam, phishing, typosquatting, hacking and catfishing.

Spam

Electronic spam is the use of messaging systems to send unsolicited messages through on the same site. While spam is most commonly recognized by email spam it has been used in many other form such as social networking spam, forum spam, instant messaging spam and online gaming spam. A common use for spam is in advertisement as there is no operating cost, in fact spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day. Most ordinarily spam advertises “products” that can be seen as unreliable and scam like. Spam has been a problem with email ever since the internet was opened to the general public in the mid 1990’s, since the spam has grown and today composes 80-85% of all the e-mails in the world. Ways in which spammers find e-mail addresses is due to e-mail address harvesting, this is when e-mails address are compiled into a database and then sold to spammers. Most of the times e-mails are collected by users not reading terms of agreement, resulting in agreeing to send spam to their account. Spam is used all around the world and is a growing problem, this is shown by the diagram provided from statista.

Phishing

Phishing (aka identity theft) is the act of extracting sensitive information from a user, this may consist of usernames, passwords and credit card information. This is done by masquerading as a trustworthy entity online. A well-known phishing scam sent via e-mail is the Nigerian prince scam. The scam required that money be sent to an account in order for the prince to get back his million dollars out of the country, in return money would be given back. This is common of most phishing scams to ask for money to be deposited or credit card numbers to be given. Other phishing scams have gotten more elaborate with fake websites that look and feel identical to the original website, which will require information to be filled in like log in information. An instance of phishing can be seen in the FBIs 2009 “Operation Phishing Phry”. The bust resulted in the arrest of 100 US and Egyptian citizen involved. The group was caught phishing bank account information from thousands of customers. The total amount accumulated by the group was 1.5 million dollars which was transferred over to fake accounts. Phishing is a major safety issue on the internet and a serious criminal act which could result in 20 years of prison.

Typosquatting

Typosquatting aka URL hijacking is a method of redirecting users to web pages, this method relies on the user misspelling a URL of a commonly visited website. Typosquatting websites often have malicious purposes which could vary from scams, viruses or unwanted extensions. For example a URL might be spelt out as “example.com” and the typosquatting site would be “xample.com” or “example.org”. Most of the time these websites are set up to phish information from users. While many typosquatting sites are harmful few have the intended use of being domains for sale to the original web owners. In many cases typosquatting domains have been successful in the case of Lego $500,000 was spent in order to purchase typosquat domains to redirect users. A report held by naked security revealed details of typosquatting. The report showed that out of 14,495 URLS 348 (2.7% as seen above) of them were linked to cybercrime such as, hacking, phishing, online fraud and spamming. Results of servers hosting these typosquating sites overwhelmingly came from America with over 60,000 or two thirds of other server locations.

Hacking

Hacking is a serious offense online as it is the act of breaking into a computer system in order to steal, change or destroy information. This is often done via installing malware to unsuspecting users computers. Reason why hacking is so dangerous is that anyone online is susceptible to being hacked. Malware is often delivered through spam or phishing sites to compromise computer security. Risks associated with being hacked can vary from having information such as information being sold for illegal use to hijacking usernames and passwords.

Catfishing

Catfishing is a type of deceptive activity encompassing a fake social media account despicable uses. Catfishing is often used in romance scams online. These fake personas online can be seen as a great danger if not recognized, catfishing can often lead to credit fraud as trust is built or even real life confrontation. Warning signs for catfishing would be random person contacts you out of the blue, they have a traumatic injury or illness, visits that never pan out, No pictures and do not talk on the phone. A notable catfish scandal was seen when football star manti te'o was catfished online into believing that his month long online girlfriend had died of leukaemia. Soon after it was revealed to manti te'o and the public that the relationship was a catfished. It is believed that the cafisher was trying to obtain money from manti te'o but ended abrupt once catfisher got cold feet.

What You Need To Do

Proposed solutions to stay safe online are as follows:

Spam

Ways in which you can stay safe from spam is to only open trustworthy emails and no irregular mails with suspicious content. If unsafe emails continue you can easily block the email address from which it is being sent from and flag the emails as spam.

Phishing

Phishing can be prevented by avoiding opening links and downloading from unknown emails or sources. Do not email sensitive information such as account details, even if the recipient is trusted you cannot trust that no one else will go on their account. Do not enter personal information into untrusted websites, a hint to see if a site could be trusted is if the “https” is locked.

Typosquatting

Avoiding typosquatting can be achieved by being cautious in URLs that you type. If you do think you have reached a typosquatting site by accident it is important not to fill in any information nor to click anything on the site. A secondary precaution which could be taken is having an up to date virus protection software on your computer is a good precaution to take if any sites infect your computer.

Catfishing

Catfishing can be avoid by having updated privacy settings on social media accounts limiting the people that can contact you. Also just staying aware and being alert of suspicious activity is an effective way of staying away from catfishing strangers.

Hacking

Ways in which being hacked can be prevented is having a 2 way firewall, up to date security software and antivirus.

Bibliography

- Afp.gov.au,. 'Online Fraud And Scams - Australian Federal Police'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Bexley.gov.uk,. 'London Borough Of Bexley - Get Safe Online'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Drphil.com,. 'Dr. Phil.Com - Advice - Online Dating Red Flags: Warning Signs Of A Catfish'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Google Online Security Blog,. 'Safe Browsing - Protecting Web Users For 5 Years And Counting'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Microsoft.com,. 'What Is Phishing | Phishing Scams | Report Phishing Scams'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Naked Security,. 'Typosquatting - What Happens When You Mistype A Website Name?'. N.p., 2011. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Paypal.com,. 'Phishing - Examples, Info And Anti-Phishing Tools From Paypal'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Research.microsoft.com,. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Spamlaws.com,. 'Spam Statistics And Facts'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Ssa.gov,. 'Internet Phishing Alert'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Statista,. 'Spam E-Mail: Countries Of Origin 2014 | Statistic'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Staysmartonline.gov.au,. 'Socialising | Stay Smart Online'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Wattanajantra, Asavin. 'The FBI Cracks The ‘Largest Phishing Case Ever’'. IT PRO. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Webopedia.com,. 'What Is Phishing? Webopedia'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

- Webroot.com,. 'Computer Hackers & Predators'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

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