March 9, 2007

More hackers please!!!!

The internet is such a wonderful tool, but also has two sides. The good and the bad. I have not personally encountered a really life changing breech of sercurity with regards to my internet use, but the with the amount of information available and with so many people trying to get ahold of your personal information it can be somewhat disconcerting while web browsing.
I am not a really avid web browser. I use the internet for school, work and to take car of some bills (which is awesomely convenient) but once again there is the transmitting of personal information mostly financial. I definitely take precautions with regards to my sercurity when accessing the web, but the deal is that if someone really wants some information, they are going to get it. I can more relate it to cars. If someone wants to steal your car, they can and will, no matter what precautions you take. I have quite a few computer program friends whom I hire to set up my sercurity protocals on my personal computer, and pretty much give me some peace of mind.
When I have my computers setup, eveything is tweaked like firewalls, cookie settings ect. I have setup my emails to filter spam, junk mail and the list goes on, but stuff will still get through. After reading chapter 5 in cyberliteracy its funny because I remember recieving forwards from my own family members about virus email scams and other hoaxes and then me calling my family to quit forwarding garbage like that because its garbage itself! I still get email in my U of M mail and hotmail and others about scams, hoaxes and others which pretty much get deleted immediatly.
It was quite interesting to see the article on phishing sites though, I actually had never heard that word before I read the article. I was aware of the practice just not the name. After reading it I wouldn't mind taking some of the same tests that the people in the article were subjected to just to see how I would match up and see if I could avoid the "spoof" sites. It does not make me extremely eager to surf the net all the time knowing that people literally devote their days to scamming on the less knowledgeable.
With regards to the Nigeria scams with the 419's is somewhat rediculous to me. If I was talking to anyone from Nigeria asking me for bank accounts and money wires you can be sure the only sound they would get is click of my phone being hung up. Unfortunately there are quite a few ignorant or just plain stupid people who actually follow these rabbit trails. I will be the first to admit though that I have been one of those people. I tdid not involve the net, but literally getting scammed right on the street. I lost around $700 and was sobered up quite quickly as to how I conduct myself and exactly where my money goes. As for those in Nigeria and the "Robin- Hood" ethic, not a chance. I know that the country is struggling with money and its government is in turmoil, but they are still scamming people for money which I believe to be quite wrong. Some people might argue well if you are dumb enough than you deserve it. Not true, some just don't have the cyber savvy knowledge to deal with these scams and innocent people are loosing lots of money because of it.
I don't think I would classify Steven Colbert as a criminal, but he does have a certain responsibility as a public figure (even if he's a comedian) to monitor his words slightly. I would definitely blame the Wikipedia overloaded servers attributed much to the words of Colbert. I find it funny that so many people would act on his words, his show is about making a spoof and embellishing the world around us with somewhat cynical tirades that are just ment to poke fun at our society

March 8, 2007

Hackers using Adobe

I recently came across this article and though it was fitting for this weeks topic. Be careful what you download!

Acrobat issues security warning
Computer Weekly; 1/16/2007, p24-24, 1/4p
By Cliff Saran

Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader have been affected by a major security issue, which can result in hackers gaining control of a user's PC or stealing confidential information.

Acrobat pdf files, which are widely available across the internet, have become the easiest way for companies to distribute electronic versions of their printed catalogues, technical documentation and company reports.

Acrobat is often installed when new PCs are first configured, and sites which use Acrobat files usually give users the opportunity to download the Reader software.

Users have been warned that a cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerability affecting multiple versions of Adobe Acrobat could enable an attacker to execute Javascript when a PDF document is opened.

The attack simply involves appending the URL for the PDF document with malicious Javascript code.

According to Websense Security Labs, an attacker could utilise this vulnerability for a wide variety of malicious actions, such as creating deceptive phishing attacks or propagating across social networking sites. An attacker could also attempt to access the local file system on the PC of an end-user who inadverantly clicks on the URL.

Users running Internet Explorer on Windows XP SP2 are unaffected. But Websense warned that Firefox users would need to upgrade to Acrobat 8.0 or higher.

Read Adobe's security bulletin

Obstructing Justice

So far I have not experienced any type of internet crime personally. However, I do know an individual who participated in online scams. He set up fake accounts on Ebay and sold products to users and did not send them. He made a lot of money doing this and stopped before Ebay had fully protected itself against that type of fraud.

To be honest I have taken very little precautions to this point to prevent myself from crime. I have the standard virus scanner and don't save passwords. I guess the anonymity I feel at home while browsing gives me a sense of invincibility which I obviously do not have.

I have sympathy for struggling people in countries that need economic growth. I also don't necessarily think wealthier people getting scammed as a whole would be that bad of an idea. The only issue I have is that I don't feel the people that really need to money are getting it. Those who are smart enough to scam wealthier countries also are probably wealthy in their own.

Tweaking with an online public forum like Wikipedia does have ethical issues. In that sense I think it should be treated just as journalists are treated for printing unethically. This helps to protect a society that depends extremely on the media's ability to tell true and accurate stories quickly. That being said, I don't think Stephen Colbert is a criminal but I do think he should have some sort of reprimand for his behavior.

March 7, 2007

Gone Phishing…

I personally have not encountered any problems with internet crime. I have never fallen victim to any phishing scams, although I’ve read some pretty convincing ones. As far as I know nobody had stolen my personal information or identity. I would like to think of myself as someone who is smart enough not to fall victim to internet crime.

Like I’ve said several times already, I am very careful with the personal information I put on the web. The only experience I’ve had with internet crime is when my former roommate had hundreds of dollars stolen out of her checking account by someone who found her account information online. In order to avoid phishing, identity theft, etc. I contact companies directly when I get an e-mail instead of replying to the e-mail.

I think it is totally unethical for anyone to scam someone else out of money, even if the person being scammed is from a wealthier country. This is in no way some sort of modern Robin Hood ethic. I’m not an expert in the matter, but I would assume a lot of the people who fall victim to these scams are not wealthy themselves, even though they come from a wealthier country. I would think there would have to be some kind of desperation for money to believe in these far fetched scams.

Wikipedia tweaking or vandalism, although wrong, should not be considered a crime. It is everyone’s write to free speech. If a website, such as Wikipedia, has rules against changing information on their site, then there should be consequences if these rules are violated. Colbert is not a criminal, just a master at taking advantage of the technology available to him.

It depends on your definition of crime, I suppose.

I have never experienced Internet crime. My housemate had her identity stolen, and the thief tried to take out a loan from an Internet-based lending group,, which fortunately called to make sure my housemate knew about it. In “Why Phishing Works?, Dhamija, Tygar, and Hearst found that “Good phishing websites fooled 90% of participants…On average, our participant group made mistakes on our test set 40% of the time.? (p. 1) I don’t imagine that I am any more web-clever that the average participant in this study, and I believe I would be fooled just as often. There are a few steps I take to protect myself from Internet/identity crime: the minor amount of online shopping I do is limited to a few well-known retailers, I don’t respond to unsolicited e-mail, even if they appear to come from a reputable source. I’m pretty careful about ripping up my mail before putting it in the recycling, since I've heard that identity thieves get more info from the trash than from the Web.

I wouldn’t say that a 419 scam is Robin Hood-like, but I don’t think its any worse than lots of other money making schemes: Amway, junky exercise machines sold on late night TV, the credit card business, or the lottery. Thousands of dollars could either be spent on, say, a new car for an American or unwittingly donated to a crafty person in Lagos, where ABC news says "the average income is a dollar a week." If this is accurate, the 4500 dollars ABC news pretended to send could have (if not spent on a swanky mansion) sustained 86 people for a year. Consider the choice between making enough money to support yourself for 86 years by spending a few weeks in front of a computer, or (if you're lucky) working some crap job for the rest of your life. Stealing isn't fair, but is it fair that some people are born into rich countries and some into poor countries?

I don't think that Wikipedia tweaking should be considered a crime. Wikipedia is very clear that it represents a collectively authored, constantly evolving source of information, and does not claim to be perfectly accurate or unbiased-- and what information source can truthfully claim to be? The fact that so many editors are watching out for tweaked entries may not prevent them, but questionable content seems to be caught fairly quickly. Gurak points out that websites often lack any sort of mechanisms for accuracy: "In print publishing...information is screened by editors, reviewers, and fact checkers...while this feature does not automatically lead to does provide steps along the way where information can be checked." (Cyberliteracy p. 92) For Gutknecht, Wikipedia seems to be in a sort of limbo- not credible enough to rely on for research, but credible enough to threaten his reputation. “A spokesman for Gutknecht did not dispute that his office tried to change his Wikipedia entry. But he called into question the reliability of the service, which was created in 2001 and claims to be the largest reference website on the Internet.? (From the Diaz Strib article) Too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin the soup, but they also can watch the pot and see that it doesn't burn.

la la.

again and again....

Every week as I read each of these posts and reflect on my previous experiences with the internet, it does not fail me each week to have encountered the particular situation that our class as a whole is discussing. Just this past year, I was ordering something on EBay and I lost the auction. However, the owner of the item told me that the winner didn’t want the item any more so I sent in my money, and what do you know I did not receive the item. The person then discontinued their account and was no where to be found. Almost a year later, a few phone calls with the cops, eBay and the police department down in Florida (where she was located) I finally was reimbursed 50% of the price (which was over $200). It was a very unpleasant incident that has caused me to be more hesitant when buying things on line but has not completely eliminated on-line shopping for me.
When reading each of these articles, especially the tips in “Why Phishing Works?, I was really surprised that many of the participants did not look a little bit more carefully on what they were reading. Whenever I am reading something and I have to cite information in an article or paper, I am always looking at the URL. Another big red flag that gets me is if there are many pop-ups; the more the pop-ups the less likely I am to cite the site.
After watching the video on Nigeria, I think that it is wrong to scam people no matter what economic status the country is in. I found that it was quite disturbing that there are people in the United States that fall for these scams. I would never send close to $4000 to a place half way across the world to a person that I have never met before that found me through an email. The people in Nigeria have no obligation to anyone, unlike paypal or eBay. No matter what state the country is in, bribing and “stealing? from someone is illegal.
I am very indifferent about Wikipedia. I think that it is a great site and I use it on a weekly basis. I know that many people can change the information within each page; however I feel as though enough people go on each page and will update the information if it is not current. However, when reading on this site, you have to be a little more precautious about the information and sometimes second guess yourself with another credible website or previous information.
People just need to be more careful as they read things on the internet and realize that ANYONE can post things on web pages.

Baby in the Bag: Please forward to save her!!!

This title came from a spoof of one of the sick child hoaxes I received a few years ago. **

I found it odd that Gurak's piece focused somewhat on hoaxes about non-existent viruses, when phishing for information is just as prevalent with spoofing and viruses as are hoaxes, which are pretty harmless compared to potentially losing your hard drive and compromising the information of others. We did have a spoof of a greeting card with an attachment in our office, which compromised our system for a time.

We had a pretty good IT director, who gave us friendly advice about looking for secure websites and the padlock (though I did not know about 'chrome' or where to look for them!) and to be on guard for spoofing and spamming. One piece of advice that I have found very helpful is to shop with just one e-mail address, like a free yahoo account, or to use that account when stores ask to put you on their mailing list. So yes, I now have three e-mail accounts, but each has a purpose; business, friends, and shopping. I wonder how I would do in the same study used in "Why Phishing Works" (Dhmaija, Tygar, Hearst). One of the reasons pop up warnings are often ineffective is the constant urge to push forward with what you are doing in the Internet. Users are so used to scanning and paying only cursory attention, and phishers know just how to design for that. I was kind of shocked to learn that they were able to link to actual sites and certificates. Scary.

My mother has a friend who must forward her EVERY piece of spam or rumor she has ever received, and my mother, for a time forwarded to me. One was about poisoned lipstick, and I checked it out on, finding it to be a pretty pervasive urban legend. I gave the information to my mom, and the chain mail trickled in from then on, rather than coming in waves. I am always amazed that two really intelligent women, who were fully capable of writing long letters to each other for many years, could confuse this knee-jerk forwarding for real communication. I prefer real words actually written by the people I care about. But that 'forward' button must be hard to resist.

I also found Gurak's statement "much of the hype is designed to create alarm" no more true than in the aftermath of 9/11. My friend's in box was flooded with wild rumors from an ex-coworker. The terrorists were going to bomb the Mall of America next. The next attack would be on Halloween, according to a hairdresser who knew the ex-girlfriend of a terrorist. I honestly don't think these e-mails were created to spread alarm--after all there was plenty to go around then--but as a way to kind of re-solve the problem. If we could prevent something from happening, then maybe we weren't so unaware after all.

I also want to say, to play devil's advocate, that what is interesting about gossip is that sometimes it IS true. Matt Drudge may spread a lot of ugliness, but he did for better or worse for our country, break a true story (Monica Lewinsky). The tabloids, not the New York Times, broke the Gary Hart/Donna Rice liaison in the late 1980s. Like Powerball numbers, sometimes the rumblings of the rumormill are correct. It is that intermittent reward, like Skinner's birds, that keeps us coming back.

The other, Wikipedia side of the coin is that Internet users expose a lot of incorrect assumptions and untruths as well. I believe it was an Internet connection that took the rug out from under Dan Rather's story about President Bush's military service. The particular document Rather and his staff used in the story was not a substantial piece of evidence after all, and if I remember correctly,was in fact a rather clever forgery. Somehow in the fallout over that scrap of paper, the story of Bush's military service was lost. Funny how that happens.

While I don't think it is unethical not to want to be poor, I do think scamming people to gain wealth is not moral relativism--it is just crime. The lure the 419 scammers use is gaining $50,000 to $100,000 so obviously victims would not be tempted if they were rich already. Robin Hood, it ain't. I think that the bigger question is, given what else may be happening in the country driving people to such desperation, how important it is to prosecute these crimes?

I don't think encouraging Wikipedia tweaking as Colbert did is vandalism, since the encouragement was part of a personae or performance. Also, the users doing the editing are the true twits in the picture whether they took Colbert at his word or out of mischief. I sympathize with the Wikipedia editors, though I think their application needs some work. I wish I did not see so many passages with the note 'needs substantiation.' Maybe if there is no good source the statement should not be included. Even if changes are in the works, they may have a hard time shedding their reputation. Witness this recent Onion spoof.

Individuals who change Wikipedia entries on their own information need to be called to account, however. The Internet is not a place to bloat or augment or in Coleman's case 'soften' facts, contested though they may be.

Colbert isn't a criminal--he is just being funny!

I do not have any personal experiences with serious Internet crime. But, freshman

year of college I got an email from a supposed bank telling me that there was

unusual activity on my card. It then linked me to a site where I was to enter all my

persona information for "security" reasons. I started doing it, and just as I was

doign so my mom called and I told her what I was doing. She said, "STOP!" I

was such a fool. I think that was when I started exploring and be very careful with

everything I did on the internet. So, four years ago I was much like the

participants in Dhamija's study: "Many users cannot distinguish a legitimate

website from a spoofed website. In our study, the
best phishing site was able to fool more than 90% of participants" (Dhamija 9).

Now, I am very careful when I go to websites to purchase items online. I make

sure they do not save my credit card information, and I always make sure the

security tag in the bottom right hand corner appears. Additionally, I liek to delete

my cookies so websites do not remember me. I rarely, if ever, type my social

security number out online. Instead, I call and make sure it is completely

necessary that they have it.

I am not sure if it is unethcial for people in 3rd world countries to try and scam us.

If I were actually them, I would probably think it was a great idea! If Americans are

dumb enough to fall for it, it is almost like they are asking for it! But, in reality and

at the heart of the matter, it is unethical. Maybe what I am saying is it is

understandable why they do it. But after watching the video, it makes me mad

that they are doing it and outwardly know it is wrong. I am proud of the

government in Nigeria for following through and arresting the criminals.

I do think tweaking wikipedia entries is a crime. If wikipedia can be kept reliable,

I think it is a great way for Americans to give the best, most unbiased view of a

subject matter. Even though Colbert seems to think "if enough other users agree

with them [writers], it becomes true" (McCarthy 1). I disagree, because if one is

foolish enough to only use one source for their resource, then it becomes the

users fault. I do not think Steven Colbert is a criminal, I just think he is funny. That

is his job--to make fun of things and cause a little controversy.

I *Think* My Identity is Still Mine

I have had almost no exposure to the sorts of internet crime described in the various links, though it is of course true there are other kinds of internet crime. Specifically, I don't believe that I have been the victim of identity theft, and I am fairly sure that I've never fallen for a phishing attempt. I am sure that I have been bitten by a virus or two, which certainly qualify as "internet crime", and I have done some reverse engineering myself that might be construed as "crime" under the DMCA, though wouldn't be considered at all illegal in the EU. The closest that I have come to the kind of crime described in the linked material was when a friend of mine had his AIM account "stolen" by someone who proceeded to regale me with homophobic attacks.

I must admit that I haven't taken many real precautions to protect myself from phishing or identity theft. I take care to never click links sent to me via email, and instead opt to sign into any sites "manually". I am also fairly careful about actually joining a site that requires much personal information, and so I don't participate in online banking or the like.

Before reading the article about phishing I more or less assumed that anyone that was "computer savvy" could never be fooled by such attacks. After reading the article, I am less sure. Certainly the simple step of manually logging into a site at the "real" address could foil the vast majority of the phishing attacks described in the article. However, it seems clear that both education and better tools will be necessary to reduce these kinds of crimes. I think that an increase in the application of laws related to such crime is the wrong approach, as music copyright enforcement has demonstrated.

I do not "buy into" the idea that it is somehow more ethical to steal from people with more money than you, regardless of the difference money or net worth. That line of reasoning is foolish, because . However, the volume of "419" internet crime indicates that there is a major problem in the global economy, and perhaps the US should take steps to modify its foreign policy in order to address the rampant poverty in countries like Nigeria.

Finally, I think it is clear that Wikipedia "tweaking" can clearly not be treated as a crime. To say that it is a crime is to change the definition of Wikipedia.

Phun for Everyone

I have found myself the victim of one phishing scam in my days as an internet user. Last summer in Paris, shortly after making my first ATM withdrawal in Europe, I checked my email at the hostel I was staying at. (I should mention that at this point I had been up for over 25 hours and the last sleep I had gotten was on an airplane.) Much to my frustration I had an email from Wells Fargo stating that my account was locked for security reasons. Now I had spoken with my banker before leaving and told them I was going over seas. She put a note on my account but warned me that initial use would probably trigger a red flag. Remembering this I let out some verbal complaints about Wells Fargo but wanting to avoid problems I followed the instructions in the email. So much for avoiding problems. I felt uneasy about the whole thing but was too tired to worry about it. Twenty minutes later I awoke from my nap with sudden clarity that I had just done something very very stupid. The whole thing came back to me, flashing before my eyes like some terrible realization in an action flick (yeah that's a little dramatic but like I said, I was short on sleep and 5,000 miles from home, there was a short moment of panic). I luckily caught this in time, I canceled the card that had been compromised and got a new username and password for the online banking site before anything bad happened. The whole ordeal was nonetheless annoying and embarrassing. I had to go the next two an a half weeks on another continent without an ATM card and I had had to admit that I fell victim to one of the very scams I have been warning friends and family about for quite some time.

I don't think there is any question as to whether or not phishing is a crime. It is a very clear, malicious act to deceive a person into divulging sensitive information for the purpose of stealing their identity. This is a stark contrast to the idea of Wikipedia tweaking or vandalism. I have referred to the internet as a jury trial in the past and I think this applies here just as well. Wikipedia is meant to be a place where content is moderated by the users. If you decide to violate the rules then it is up to your peers to judge the fate of the information you provide (or remove). Seeing as how the entire idea of Wikipedia is that it is a user-created, user-moderated system, I don't see "tweaking" it as a violation of any actual laws.

Phishing Season

It is always Phishing season!

It is amazing to see all of the spam and phishing expeditions I see each day into my University email account. Much like the random phone dialers, computers that are plugging away at email address variations are spamming us, hoping to hit paydirt. I haven’t been scammed but I have seen some pretty sophisticated sites that made me do a double take on whether they were real or bogus. I have several accounts at US Bank. I received an email from them requesting verification of some account numbers. Included in the body of the request was a link that looked correct. It was exactly the same as a US Bank link so it didn’t raise any alarms. But I was fortunate enough to look at the address bar when I moved the cursor over the link because there was the slightest difference from what was on the link in the email and what showed up in the title bar. Obviously a case of images masking underlying text per the reading this week “Why Phishing Works?. I was so excited and amazed I couldn’t wait to call US Bank and turn in the scam artists. Their reaction was rather ho-hum. I guess they see these things all of the time.

We have a broadband connection at home and we use Mozilla for our browser. We have switched our ISP a number of times in the last 6 months due to the Roadrunner-Time Warner-Comcast buyouts. Comcast has raised the rates to $57 per month if you don’t have cable. We have now switched to EarthLink and we are in the process of updating all of our contacts with our new address. When we were with Roadrunner we established an email account for our 12 year-old. Even though we preached the rules and regulations about the internet, kids always know more than their parents. It wasn’t long before our son was receiving 100+ spam emails per day. Fortunately he has learned his lesson and we have curtailed most of the wayward surfing and emailing from his account.

The scammers in Nigeria aren’t behaving like Robin Hood. They may feel like they are taking from the rich but they are giving to the rich. They are preying on the many clueless individuals who are looking for something that is too good to be true. They should all be punished to the full extent of the law.

As long as we all have an understanding of what Wiki is, there shouldn’t be a problem using it for information. Unfortunately too many people view any written word as the truth. If they want to believe it they will.

Guilty...Not Guilty---what's your take?!

I personally haven’t encountered any crime on the Internet. However, someone got a hold of my mom’s credit card number and spent over $2,300.00 worth of online merchandise in a matter of 4-5 hours. This is why people need to be very cautious when making online purchases and check their statements frequently!!

Phishing, it seems is becoming more and more common, because Phishers are being more and more sneaky and successful with trapping individual’s into their little scheme. I know that my Aunt googled a flower shop when my grandmother passed away a couple of weeks ago. She googled a local flower shop, called the number up that the website listed, not thinking twice about whether the number was legit or not. The individual she spoke with was very nice and helpful, when my Aunt described which type of bouquet she would like sent to the mortuary for my grandmother. Well when we got to the mortuary and saw what my Aunt had ordered, it was nothing like what she told the individual. She spend $75.00 on what she thought was going to be a nice big beautiful bouquet, only to have it turn out to be a piece of ivy, with a few carnations. After the wake, she went straight home and checked her statement, only to find out that her card was not charged from the place she ordered from. Further looking into the situation, she found out she was part of a common scam. To read more about the scam, you can visit:
It is quite bazaar, and never would think twice about a situation like this happening, but according to the article it happens frequently. Needless to say you can’t be too careful when obtaining and ordering anything from the Internet.

The clip on the Nigerian people scamming other countries was quite interesting. I definitely think that this is unethical. Obviously in Nigeria it is illegal to retain money under false pretences, and they have a name for individuals in that country who make their living doing so. They are commonly called 419 men, and when these men are caught in the act, they face serious consequences. People in these other countries who are being scammed, definitely need to take more precautionary measures before sending hundreds or thousands of dollars to a foreign country, for purposes of obtaining cash you never knew about before.

As far as Wikpedia is concerned, I think you need to take any information obtained online—unless from a scholarly journal, book, or magazine, you have to take with a grain of salt that the reliability of that source may not be 100%. I didn’t know, prior to reading this article, that users are able to change definitions, if a number of people agree with its new refined definition. Could someone reflect on this for me, I guess I’m a little confused with the whole concept of Wikpedia…

The Troublemaker's Playground

The internet can be tricky at times. There are scams out there and you have to watch out for them. My wife and I just recently encountered what we think was a scam. Just recently, we had plans to go to Mexico for a few days. The flight and hotel stay were already taken care of, so we decided to see what activities that the area had to offer. We found an interesting activity called "Dolphins in the Wild." It was a boat excursion that takes people to find pods of wild dolphins so the people can swim with them. It sounded fun so we decided to make a reservation.

Our big mistake was that we accidentally made the reservation on the wrong web site. We had originally found the activity on a tourism web site that was tied to the city that we were visiting, and seemed legitimate. We didn't make the reservation right away, so I had to look up the site again. I accidentally went to a different web site and made the reservation.

Later that month we had made it to Mexico and were having lots of fun. On the day that we were supposed to go on the dolphin excursion, I called the businesses phone number to make sure everything was in order, it was not. The business owner said that he had no reservation under my name, and to top it off, he didn't offer the dolphin excursion at that time of the year. He said the water was too cold. He seemed legitimate so I said I would call my credit card company.

My wife called the credit card company when we got back home. They said to call a phone number that was included with the charge to our account and said to call back if the people on the other line weren't helpful. She called the number and the person on the phone claimed that they were the company called PayPal. They asked her for her account number which she didn't know, and then they asked her for her credit card number. She asked why they couldn't just look up her name. They said in a testy voice, "That would take a long time to find your name, it would be much quicker if we used your credit card number." She declined and called our credit card company back. They said they would dispute the charge.

If I'm correct, I think that we were victims of a phishing scam. Phishing is described as "...the practice of directing users to fraudulent web sites" (Dhamija). Some of the scam artists out there seem to be talented web designers. I was a little embarrassed about this occurrence, but felt better after I learned from Dhamija's "Why Phishing Works" study that the best phishing sites were able to fool 90% of the participants of the study. That's alarming!

Usually I am very careful, but they got me! Every once in a while I find fraudulent emails in my in-box. I've seen messages that claim to be from PayPal, Ebay (of which I have no account!) and others that claim to be from banks. I put them on my "blocked" list and that's the last of it. If I'm shopping online, I'll use shopping web sites like I'll only buy from merchants that have a good customer satisfaction score. I haven't had any problems using this far!

I have to say that chain letters annoy the ever loving BLEEP out of me. Three of my friend's wives (they are my friends as well) send these thing around to everyone when they receive them. I have seen many that incorporate the "hook, threat and request" method (Gurak). I recall reading a few about a child that is dying of cancer. I honestly wonder what kind of sick fool likes to make these stories up. It's sad. There are also the chain emails that I call the "Sappy Message" emails (Blender). These usually consist of an inspirational message or prayer with a line at the end that says "Send this to 10 friends and you will have good luck."

There have also been emails that claim you will have bad luck if you don't send it to X amount of people. Those emails employ a kind of intimidation to make people send them to their friends. I get a little bothered when one of the ladies sends me these chain emails. I'm a bit shocked at how superstitious they are. I've actually sent some of them a fake (I hope) chain email that says, "You will explode if you don't send this email to 500 people within the next 3 minutes!" That felt good hee hee ha ha.

One last thing. In Gurak's book (Cyberliteracy), it is mentioned on page 97 that everyday software developers can sometimes become hackers because they get a high from creating a program and sending it out into the world. They "develop code that runs across networks with the potential to wreak havoc on numerous systems" (Gurak 97)
This sort of reminds me of the description of a pyromaniac. They seem to feel a sort of satisfaction when they create a fire. It’s something that's alive and grows and grows if it's not stopped.

I'm assuming that the programmers that become hackers are not as mentally unstable as a pyromaniac, but I think that the parallel is interesting. The University of Iowa's health information web site claims that one of the signs of pyromania is when a person "experience(s) pleasure or relief when setting or watching fires."

Ahhh, legality and the internet...a debacle indeed.

What are your personal experiences with Internet crime?

I have never been taken advantage of on the internet. However, I have been solicited many times by e-mail to get involved in scams. I remember my freshman year at UMD, there was a group of people (phishers) e-mailing students pretending to be foreign financiers. In exchange for personal information they promised to share with the student money that they stole from foreign African governments. I really hope no one was stupid enough to fall into that internet scam.

What precautions have you taken to shield yourself from phishing, identity theft, etc.?

There are a few things I do to avoid phishers. I never give away personal information on the internet. Also, I never go to unrepeatable websites.

Is it truly unethical that people in a developing country like Nigeria are scamming people from wealthier countries, or does it reflect a Robin Hood sort of ethic?

Absolutely not. This is because robbers in Nigeria are not starting a revolution to change their people’s or class’ situation. Therefore, there is nothing romantic or sacrificial about what they are doing. They are as greedy as they people from whom they steal. This is shown in the ABC News report. The scammers were not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They were stealing from the rich and making themselves rich.

Does something like Wikipedia tweaking or vandalism really count as a crime? If so, does that make Stephen Colbert a criminal?

It depends really. For example, I would say that Wikipedia tweaking is shenanigans, not illegal acts. For Congressman Gutknecht and his attempt to tweak his own entry, I think its is not out of the realm of reason that he would want to do so. While he and other politicians might want a little more grandstanding on their Wikipedia page, they would have a legitimate gripe if they were slandered. When it comes to vandalism on the other hand I believe it must causes fiscal, physical, or mental anguish to be punishable by law. For example, if one were to loose their job over an untrue entry, that should be illegal. Also, if an entry incited an instance of clear and present danger to society I would have to say such an act is illegal.

Stephen Colbert is however not a criminal. This is because his political opinion as to the legitimacy of Wikipedia’s factualness is protect by the Constitution of the United States. Colbert did not slander Wikipedia, he merely pointed out that the online encyclopedia has a flaw.

Crime v 2.0

I have never been the victim of any crime on Internet, and I think I may be one of the luckiest person. I have pretty much done everything that is not advised like buying with my credit card on improbable foreign website which I barely understood. I can't say that I have many shieds either, and my computer may be full of viruses / spy programs / whatever but the thing is : I don't really mind. I'm pretty sure that my bank would cover me if I find out that someone has spent thousands of Euros on Internet.

I think that a lot of Internet victims, in addition of being unlucky, have been a bit naive at one point. As all of you (I imagine), I often receive e-mails saying me that I won a big amount of money, that I can make millions if I just give 10 dollars right now... I am sure that more people that we imagine click on these kind of links and get fooled. As I said, I don't do anything to protect myself but I don't take crazy risks either (when I was buying things, it was just records, for a small amount of money).

Concerning the scams from Nigeria, I think they're completely unethical and do not constitute a kind of modern Robin Hood. I almost think that it would be condescendent to give them this kind of credit. Unfortenately, I did not understand everything in the video so I cannot really express myself. The thing that really surprised me (and made me angry too), is that the journalist give his contact to the police in the end. This is unethical to me. We have these kind of journalist in France, showing how the scams work, but the face of the criminal would be flouted and his identity kept as a secret, and not given to the police. It is one of the main rule about journalism in France. I am curious to know what you think of that.

I would not consider Colbert as a criminal. He just plays with the absurdity of the Wikipedia system. I think that Wikipedia is an interesting idea, but I agree with Colbert when he says "if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true". The history has shown that at many times, one person was right against the whole world, and Wikipedia ignores this parameter. What Colbert does is just showing, in a provocative way, that the veracity of a piece of information on Wikipedia is arguable, and that does not make him a criminal, on the contrary.

Please enter your name, DOB, SS#, Bank account #'s...

My personal experiences with Internet crime have been pretty much non-existent. I am a very carefull person and the only time that I have had a problem was when I downloaded a virus. I opened up an e-mail I didn't know who it was from and my computer kept shutting down and restarting. I got the problem fixed however I had to delete everything off of my computer and rebooted and had to load everything back on there from scratch. Luckily nothing was effected. However, when I called a professional to get it fixed, they said that if I didn't delete everything off of my computer, the information on it would have been comprimised. Another situation that I had involved a bit of security from paypal and my online betting account that I had at the time. I was making sports bets online at my friends computer and they said that I couldn't make any more bets until I sent them my drivers license, and a copy of my bank statement showing a deposit was done into my paypal account to fund my sports betting account. I was skeptical about this and I called there office and they said it's standard because bets where being made at different locations and they where concerned that they weren't ligitimate. I guess if I was loosing money they would be ok with it.

I take I guess the standard precautions so I protect myself from ID theft and phishing attacks. I have updated phishing protections that checks every site for authenticity. It has worked well and I haven't had any complaints. I also really don't give out any information online and I don't shop for anything or use my credit card or anything online. Call me old fashion, but if I really want to buy something, I go to the store. It's just amazing to think how many people are victims of Internet crimes. "About 2 million users gave information to spoofed websites (Tygar, 1)." This is amazing to me that this affects that many people. I think that even the people who are really diligent in watching what sites they go to and what information they give out can easily become victimes. "...even in the best case scenario, when users expect spoofs to be present and are motivated to discover them, many users cannot distinguish a legitimate website from a spoofed website. (Tygar, 9).

I think it is truly unethical for people in developing countries to scam people from wealthier countries. I watched the Nigerian scams on Dateline or some show like that many times and it's crazy. I think they need to be shutdown and the public needs to be more aware of this. Many people have lost there life savings because of these scams and that's unfortunate. I don't think it reflects on any type of Robin Hood ethic at all. It's unethical and the people who scam should be sent to jail for 10 years minimum.

I personally don't think that tweaking an entry on Wikipedia should constitute as a crime. If you don't feel like the information is factual, go some where else to check the information. I just think that people like to make a big fuss over little things, we should pay more attention to ID theft and internet crimes than changing words around on Wikipedia, it just sound ludacris to me.

CLICK>>> $1000 FREE <<

In all of the time i have spent online, I have had very little experiance with internet theft. There is only one instance that I can think of offhand, and it was the widely known paypal phishing scheme. Even with this, though, I have very little experiance, as all I did was delete the email. I feel that internet phishing is well-known enough that most people know better than to enter their credit card information and other personal information into websites that might be questionable. In my opinion, lack of online experiance is the reason people fall victim to phishing schemes, but it is laziness that makes people fall for other things. For example, a college student wants posters for his/her living space, and finds deals too good to be true on posters hard to find on a very unprofessional website. Instead of shopping around (either on more websites or in person), he/she risks it by entering their personal information anyways. In my experiance (yes I've taken the lazy way out and risked it), it always turns out okay, but it doesn't turn out okay for everyone. Lately I find it easier to just not enter any information unless it is a site that I have used before.
As far as wikipedia goes, I think that the editors stay on top of altered posts, and it isn't too much cause for concern. I do find some of the things people attempt to do horribly amusing. "Now Gutknecht, in effect, tried to expunge a reminder of a 12-year term-limit he imposed on himself in 1995" (Diaz). With all of the attention that wikipedia has been recieving lately, I don't see how any political figure could attempt to cite a wikipedia post about themself as "truth". I imagine if someone tried to say "Look, I never said I'd leave office after so long, it says so on wikipedia," they would be viewed as ridiculous. I don't think that post editing should be considered a crime, but I do think people from developing countries scamming people from wealthier countries is unethical. A crime is a crime, and if it is okay for someone from an underpriveleged background, then I can make the argument that it should be okay for me to take part in internet crime so long as I'm scamming someone wealthier than me.

The Law of the Internet

I'd say I really didn't have much personal experience with the type of online crime discussed in the readings until I enrolled as a student and got my U of M account. Since then, I've had a number of scam emails of both the phishing and 419 variety. So far though, the worst any of those emails has done is slightly confuse me when I first recieved them. I quickly learned to recognize them, and now they're usually deleted right away or reported as spam when I do get them. All of them are easy to recognize and avoid since I never associated my school email with any websites requiring an account (besides Facebook), I don't even have a Paypal account, and the 419 scams are usually poorly written descriptions of rich dead relatives I know I don't have in Nigeria. If I really did inherit all that money every time my "Uncle Richard Carl" died (apparently they don't even know the difference between first and last names either), I'd probably be able to drop out of school and retire right now. It does surprise me that I get any of these emails since it seems like a big public institution like the University of Minnesota would be able to track and block more of these, but I know the tech department has posted warnings about them in the past, which does help me.

Although the living conditions in Nigeria as shown in the ABC News video definitely makes the people living there look underprivledged compared to our own in America (even the mansion depicted looks like something out of the slums), I still think what the 419 scammers are doing is unethical and illegal. The way those scams are run is maliciously misleading and against both Nigerian and American law. I wouldn't classify it as a "Robin Hood" ethic either since the money scammer collect goes directly to their own benefit. If they were truly selfless, they would be sharing that money with the rest of the Nigerian community. Yes, it's terrible that they're forced to live in those conditions, but there must be more ethical ways to get a leg up.

Wikipedia vandalism on the other hand, while an obvious nuisance, is relatively harmless compared to the scamming and identity theft going on everyday on the internet. The site specifically exists for users to edit, so it needs to have its own guidelines for what is acceptable and inacceptable use of its services. Article vandalism is a breach of the rules for sure and should be grounds for limitations on the article and banning of the users involved. It's poor taste, but not poor ethics. Only if the site is not able to function, such as a vandalism of the site itself by hackers, would this kind of offense be serious enough to be considered a crime.

Wait! Not everything on the internet is true????

On a personal level, I haven’t had any experience with internet crime what-so-ever. No crime has ever been committed against me that I know of. However, even though the article, “Why Phishing Works,? by Dhamija, Tygar, and Hearst’s studies showed that the amount of experience on the internet, education, sex, and total time spent on the internet did not affect their results at all, I had a hard time believing that. I spend a decent amount of time on the internet, and because so, I have always been weary of my personal information. I only give it out to websites that I knew I could trust. But then I realized while reading that the little things that people were not looking for, I was guilty of as well. I never knew the difference, until now, between http and https. I have known about the secure lock image within the frame of my browser, but then I thought about it, and I’ve never really utilized it in times when I should have. After reading that article, I was actually rather surprised that I had not already been a victim of online phishing. The only standard I’ve used in the past as whether or not it seemed to be a credible site by its layout, quality, and sometimes when it had last been updated. I’ll try and work on that from now on!

As far as the scams out of Nigeria go, I think they are completely unethical and in no way could be considered as the Robin Hood sort of ethic. Yes, it’s true that Nigeria is a country that is stricken with poverty; however, that does not make what they are doing ok. In fact, it can be looked on the same as if Nigeria were to become one of the biggest and best countries at smuggling drugs into the United States. Just like these current scams, they would be gaining money from wealthier countries. At least in that scenario, the person giving money would actually be receiving a product in return. (I know, I know, not a good product). But I do feel that some of the blame is on some of the people who are stupid enough to become involved in such scams. Everyone on the internet should be aware of spam, and the kind of troubles it can get you in. They should know that their email is NOT secure. However, I have seen reports on people targeting older online users, and telling them that it was their grandchild, and they were in trouble and needed money. It is things such as these that need to be deemed as very illegal, and should be prosecuted against. It’s just a problem of getting the other countries to cooperate and agree.

I do not think that what Stephen Colbert did should be seeing as illegal. I was merely trying to make a point that the system Wikipedia operates under is not necessary 100% factual. In this specific situation, I think that Wikipedia is the one to blame for making this information changeable in the first place.

$25 Million in Nigeria? I'd be stupid not to do it.....

Luckily, I haven't had much experience with internet crime myself. Although, I have seen my share of 419 emails, (only on my U of M address, oddly enough), and other scams like that. I saw a lot of parellels in the ABC News piece on the 419 scammers between those scams and regular mail scams that work kind of the same way. I work at Your Exchange Check Cashing, and sometimes we get $2500 checks from people that came with a letter saying they won a lottery (that they never entered) and that the check their getting is a prepayment, so that they can send money back to the "lottery commission" and thus obtain the rest of their money. This scam could be a little more serious, however, as it could possibly make those who believe it an and try to cash the check accomplice to fraud. Although with the invention of the internet, more tools are at the scammers disposal, the scams aren't anything that new. As long as a series of numbers has controlled all our finances and identity, there have been people looking to steal those numbers. And as we can see from the Dhamija peice, there are plenty of people who don't pay much attention to these sites online.
In light of this, I try to be cautious whenever dealing with financial information online. I only shop online at sites I know or that are obviously bigger, more established stores. I try not to put much of my personal information online, and whenver I see emails looking for a bank account number, I disregard them.
Even though those in Nigeria are much poorer than we here in America, stealing is stealing. Therefore, I see what they do as being clearly unethical. In the case of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to poor, I see the same way. Taking excess from those who don't need it and giving it to those who do is something I see as justifiable, but its still stealing. And a key difference between Robin Hood and the 419 scammers is that the scammers aren't taking money from the CEO of Exxon or Bill Gates or someone with more wealth than they could ever hope to spend, but from some college kid or single mom or what have you, who's just trying to get by all the same.
In the same vein, altering information on Wikipedia couldn't be considered a crime as it isn't against the law. I would consider it unethical to change ones information to put yourself in a better light, like Gutknecht and the politicians in the Star Tribune article. However, the job of the politician is to make him or herself look good, so I can't say I'm terribly surprised. But I'm glad to know that there's a site that won't back down from pointing out hypocrisy in their statements. In the same respect I wouldn't consider Stephen Colbert a criminal, although possibly liable for any monetary damages to their servers.

March 6, 2007

Here Phishy Phishy Phishy.. ..

What makes a bogus website credible?

This is a great question and the truth is I don't know. And the further truth is that even reading further in cyberliteracy and the Why Phishing Works article I still am challenged in the understanding of what the difference is between a credible and non-credible site entails.

When reviewing this information I not only became concerned regarding my own internet identity protection but for everyone. The following quote makes it clear that everyone is a target and everyone can be a candidate for theft:
"In our study, neither education,
age, sex, previous experience, nor hours of computer
use showed a statistically significant correlation with
vulnerability to phishing." (Dhamija, Tygar, Hearst, p.2)

In conclusion. . . .I think the best guidelines to perform for protection is to not submit personal information online. One should be careful even using their real names. Potentially an alias is the best when participating in online communities. I personally seek to protect my identity information by not shopping online nor providing information such as address, phone numbers, or social security numbers.

Dhamija, Tygar, Hearst state that phishers strategize toward a lack of knowledge, visual deception, and lack of attention. My preventive actions toward these strategies is to use a browser that I am familiar with. For example, Internet Explorer is the browser I grew up on so very familiar with the visuals and feel most comforted here. But friends have also introduced me to Mozilla Firefox stating that it is a more secure online browser.

Because I do not provide personal information regarding my identity I do not believe I have experienced this sort of online crime.

Is it truly unethical that people in a developing country like Nigeria are scamming people from wealthier countries, or does it reflect a Robin Hood sort of ethic?
No, of course it is not ok. Stealing from people whether rich or poor is a crime.

Does something like Wikipedia tweaking or vandalism really count as a crime? If so, does that make Stephen Colbert a criminal?
I believe that it does not institute a crime unless there are laws regarding these specifics. In this case Wikipedia has a online policy that members should abide by. I believe they are doing their best to prevent this online vandalism.

Phishing in Mankato?

I have not had any personal experiences with Internet crime. Well, unless you consider the viruses that constantly attack your computer and the never-ending battle keeping your computer protected. I guess I consider that a crime. On the up side, my identity is still intact. Since my Internet activity is minimal and I rarely purchase online, I have curtailed these issues. I verified the website when I have made purchases online (probably less than four times). The websites were secured and dependable. In “Why Phishing Works?, I found I instinctively follow the precautions: security identifiers, content/domain name, and padlock icon (and not in the content!). Certificates are in my subconscious but nothing I purposely look for. In the future, I will be doing that. I was not aware of HTTPS. In fact, I would have guessed that to be a phishing strategy. This is a great article. I will be recommending these tips to a few friends and some “older surfers.? One can never be too careful in cyberspace.

Nigeria and ethics? I just received one of these emails last week through my UMN email address. I was actually shocked at the woman from Alabama on YouTube who gave out information in response to this type of email. First of all, the spelling and grammar is atrocious. The facts of the email do not make sense either. In the email I received, the victim a “poor British lad? but yet the money was to be sent to a bank in Nigeria. Go figure! In my mind, scams are scams. It doesn’t matter who is doing it. This is not a Robin Hood situation. If money is needed, there are legitimate and ethical ways to ask for help. These men are computer savvy. As one of the men in the video states, the “419 Men? do not want to work. They have opportunity and computer skills to do positive work for themselves and their communities. If criminals put as much energy and cleverness in good deeds as they do in their crimes, what a success they could be.

Wikipedia is for quick reference but not a site I ever count on (or use) for research and documentation. A number of instructors in the past have specifically mentioned that Wikipedia information does not count as a legitimate source. As far as tweaking the information, it surely appears to draw attention to the “tweaker?. I am confused on the “policy against autobiographical edits.? It makes me wonder even more about the validity of the sources and articles (especially if that person is still alive). Although Gutknecht cites politicians (and who knows their agendas!), I would believe there are others who have edited personal information on them. I assumed that just about anyone had the ability to contribute and modify data.

Chapter 5 of Cyberliteracy was fun to read. I never thought of the implications of the zillions of jokes, hoaxes, and chain letters on the net. That is cyberspace clutter! After reading this chapter, I believe I have received just about every example Gurak cites. The chain letter which must be forwarded for good luck, sick children with cancer (page 82), the “evil AOP? letter (pages 85-86) and even the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe (page 108). I’m surprised she did not mention the gas boycott email that surfaces every time gas prices rise. The Neiman Marcus recipe chain letter must be decades old. I remember receiving that one on paper! As far as traveling to sunny Mankato, I haven’t seen that hoax. As Gurak writes on page 92, “The power of reach and the sophisticated visual tools make us believe in what we see.?


Since we’ve all read Gurak this week you’ve probably already dismissed my blog post as a hoax based upon the hook in the title alone (p. 88). But I hope you’ll read on anyway.

I have only had one personal experience with Internet crime. A few years ago I was in the midst of selling a used computer on eBay. A couple of days before the auction closed an individual had begun asking me questions about the used computer. The individual, a guy based upon his name, then began phishing for my personal contact information saying that he wanted to make me an offer outside of the eBay auction. This is clearly not permitted and I refused. He then became more aggressive and said that I could call him and he wouldn’t know who I was. Of course that isn’t true because of Caller ID and I declined. As the auction was coming to a close he began making threats that I was logged on as another user jacking up the price and that he was going to report me to eBay and that he was going to file criminal charges against me. Luckily he did not have the winning bid and the sale went through smoothly from that point forward. I reported the individual to eBay. However, it turned a pleasant experience into an awful one.

Since that phishing trip, I have taken more precautions to shield myself from Internet crime and identity theft. As we have discussed in previous weeks, I do not have many Internet sites that I visit that are not well-established commercial entities and I have to think critically about giving private information. Even then, I only give the minimum amount of private information needed to create an account.

I not only think that it is unethical that people in developing countries like Nigeria are scamming people from wealthier countries, I think it is criminal. It again stresses the necessity of cyberliteracy so people can better protect themselves from crime on the Internet.

I do not think tweaking Wikipedia or information vandalism counts as a crime. It is important for individuals to acquire a basic level of cyberliteracy in order to learn how to critically evaluate information from Internet sites like Wikipedia (p. 94-96).

That's Phishy

I do not think I have ever been phished, and believe that the correlation between computer usage and phishing identification is asking the wrong question. I think that the more you see the junk emails and use the internet, the easier it is to identify a scam. It seems in my group of friends, that those of us who have used the net more end up spending less time on things that are not obviously from friends, family or something we are expecting, and will just trash it instead of worry one way or another.

My best defense to phishing is my pop-up blocker and lack of care for throwing anything away. I have a lot of mail that is sorted as junk mail, thanks to Google Mail's identification of a wide array of bad email (I don't remember the last time I had to throw junk mail away). When I used to receive junk mail through my hotmail account, I would not even open it if I could not identify the name in the FROM column.

I think it is always unethical to steal. Yes the situation in Nigeria is bad, but it is unethical because stealing is wrong, not because having rich and poor people is right. For this reason we see the arrested man feel bad, and not robbed himself, after he was arrested and gave an explanation. In my opinion, Robin Hood isn't exactly the best way to readjust the wealth of any community, but it is probably a lot quicker than taking up donations.

I don't think tweaking on Wikipedia can be considered a crime, because it is more a Wikipedia rule that you can't enter in personal information than any law. People write biographies all the time, leaving parts out. Companies that own almost everything (like General Electric owning NBC, and Viacom owning both MTV and VH1) are able to write only half of many stories. For example if there is every a big scandal and GE, NBC would not be the source I would turn to, although they would most likely tell a very truthful story about it some parts might just be left out.

Stephen Colbert is therefore not a criminal, and neither is Steagle Cobeagle the Eagle.

Let's Take a Bit Out of Crime

While the Internet is one of the most important innovations in the world's lifetime there are some drawbacks as evidenced in the different readings. People think that it is justified to take people's money because they are ignorant. However, it is wrong and I think people should be taught how to spot these attempted crimes.

While I have never had any money taken, been phished, or anything like that I do remember an incidence when I was in high school. I went to a page and entered my internet information such as my name and password. When I did this the person on the other end took my AOL profile and began using it. I was shocked when my dad called me at school the next day to ask if I had been on the Internet. I said no I was in class all day and asked why. He said that someone had been using my profile to look at pornography and as a minor it showed up on my parents account.

I felt violated. While I didn't lose any money, I did lose a sense of security and have been more careful what sites I go to. Some of the precautions I have taken include typing in the address I want to go to, using Firefox, and making sure the site tells me I have entered a secure server. However, I was surprised to find out by reading the Dhamija article that there are some very clever criminals out there and I should be more careful. I realize now that I should pay more attention. I was also surprised how clever phishers have gotten, using the bank of the west site as a fishing scam by making the address is incredible (Dhamija, 7). I can see how 18 of the 20 participants were fooled into believing it was a real site. I also realize that it doesn't matter how knowledgable you are with the internet, one can still be tricked as evidenced by the participation in the study.

I have received the emails about the king of nigeria dying and I can get his money. I like to read them and laugh at how bad the language actually and am dumbfounded at how people can give their information out so easily. I send these emails to the University of Minnesota spam division so they can crack down on these emails and prevent these crimes from happening to students. The people that try these scams are hurting the people that work for a living earning a dollar a week. They are hurting the respect of the country and are showing potential tourists that they will be victims of crime if they deal with the people of Nigeria. I feel bad for the people of Nigeria and those that give their money to the thieves.

In regards to the Colbert and wikipedia, I thought about it and came to the conclusion that it is a crime. While I like Colbert and think he is funny suggesting things like, "recommended that his viewers begin by changing the article for "elephant" to say that the population of African elephants has tripled in the past six months" ( Is advovating people falsify information. He is like the ringleader. While not even close to comparison, do people realize that Charles Manson never killed anyone? He convinced his followers to commit the murders. Now. Manson is in jail. While Colbert never did anything remotely as evil, he did advocate attacking a web site and it could be viewed as a crime.

Finally, politicians need to accept what they say is going to go online and think before they speak. Regardless if Gutknecht stated that he made a "12-year term-limit he imposed on himself in 1995" ( informaion is going to get out one way or another and fooling around with Wikipedia will just get a person more negative publicity than he or she wants. If voters like what he is doing in Washington, they will ask him to stay. Politicians should take notice of what the Internet has done to some candidates and be careful when saying anything.

The issue of Internet crime is both interesting and troubling. People need to be more knowledgable about how to protect yourself. Reading the Dhajami article really opened my eyes, from now on, I am going to make sure I am on a safe site before giving my information.

Internet scamming is a crime

After watching the video clip on e-mail scamming, I realized that I have also received the same kind of emails. I have received two emails in the last couple of years that have talked about someone dying and leaving their inheritance to whoever wanted it. I personally did not believe that email to be legitimate. The fact that I had no clue as who was sending me those emails and how it is that they got my email were the two factors that let me know that it was probably a scam. I don't think that the people in Nigeria who do Internet scams have the Robin Hood sort of ethic. I think that their line of work is unethical and is unjust. Just like the video clip stated, the people who do the Internet scamming are mostly young and computer saavy young men. I think that it gives other people the wrong direction about what having a job is all about. Instead of going to school and trying to get a good job, some people think that they can just spend their time scamming people and earning quick cash. I don't see anything that is ethical or right about that situation. I know that the people in that country are really poor, but that isn't an excuse to rob innnocent people.

I don't have any personal experiences with Internet crime; however, I do know people who have been victims of identity theft and Internet scams. One person that sticks out in my mind in particular is one of my mom's friends who had $6,000 taken out of her bank accounts. She received an email from her "bank" that asked her if she wanted to view her balance or something of that sort and she typed in her information thinking that it was the real bank's website. In a matter of moments, she had all of her accounts emptied out. She found out about it when her bank notified her that $6,000 was taken out of her accounts at one time. She reported it and was able to get her money back, but it was definitely a stressful experience. She said that the email was formatted the same way as the real bank website and that she had no idea that it was a set up. When she talked to her bank about this incident, they told her that banks do not send out emails asking their customers to view their accounts. The people have to go on the bank's website themselves to do that.

Tweaking and vandalizing Wikipedia is a crime in my opinion; however, I don't think that it's as severe as Internet scamming activities. Everyone knows that anybody can go to Wikipedia and type anything in it, it's up to the people to figure out whether or not the information that they're receiving is legitimate. I don't think that it's good to tweak people's information and I'm not sure if it would be fair to call Stephen Colbert a criminal because that would entail imprisonment. I think that Wikipedia as more of a blog page, although some of the information that is one there is really informatve and factual, but when it comes to people's biographies, I think that people should double-checked the information from other less-temperable sources.

Try this. You'll receive 50 million dollars!!

I have never personally had any experiences with internet crime but I have seen e-mails that I knew were not legit. For instance, I used to receive e-mails almost like the ones sent out from the 419 Scams. Immediately, I knew it was a scam and usually these kind of scams work by asking for a little money so you can receive a large sum. I work at the bank and there are a lot of e-mail scams on customers. There was a time it was so bad, I’d see many customers come in with that same issue. One case I remember was when a customer gave his entire visa card # and expiration date to another person over the internet as the other person verified the first four numbers of his visa. (little did he know, everyone has the same first four numbers on their visas). I worked with this customer for a quite a bit, after they had already lost hundreds of dollars. These experiences I’ve seen with others really keep me cautious to any online scams.

Precautions that I have taken to shield myself from phishing and identity theft include being very cautious and aware of everything I do online. There are scammers out there, roaming throughout the internet. As mentioned, the reason people are scammed everyday includes “lack of knowledge, visual deception, and lack of attention.? (Phishing, Pg. 2) This can be very dangerous if you are careless. Although I had not known the different security terms, it’s important to also take those into considerations when purchasing items, giving personal information and such. I’ve also changed from Internet Explorer to Firefox and I’ve found less problems with it and it is said to “offer advanced security features.? (Phishing, pg. 4) Firefox offers the domain name and lock icon in the status bar.

I found the 419 scam in Nigeria to be very interesting, yet disturbing. It is very unethical for anyone to scam another in any way. It’s really important to read carefully and ask yourself “is this even possible?? “Am I really receiving 50 million dollars for free?? On another note, Stephen Colbart’s ‘tweaking’ incident does not really come off as a crime.

March 5, 2007

Let's "Make It Mankato"!!

I am thankful enough to say that I do not have very many experiences with crime on the internet, or at least occasions when I fell victim to it. There are plenty of times when someone attempts to pull a random new email scam or something of the like on me but I have always been cautious enough to avoid getting hit. The two times I have experienced "crime" per say on the internet were on ebay and amazon. There was one time I purchased a videogame from a seller and it was just a copied cd of the original game with a highly elaborate (but still obviously fake) label glued on it. The other time was when I purchased a book from a seller who immediately after receiving my money decided to leave Luckily I was refunded by the site itself.

The precautions I have taken to avoid such events are pretty similiar to the ones Gurak points out on page 109: I think before I post (anytime you type any sort of data onto your computer it's important to take everything into consideration before posting). I don't start chain letters. When I notice something wrong, I inform those that are close to me of my newfound information. Also; I clear my cookies and temporary files, I use a firewall, I use anti-virus software, and I don't download things from unknown sites.

I don't believe in the Robin hood ethic at all in regards to Nigerian scamming. I don't think there should be any justification for scamming people out of their money. I do however believe that more videos like the ABC news video need to come around in order to help suppress these events from happening. While I can't help feeling sorry for the people who get scammed in this manner, I have to say that they brought it upon themselves by giving this sort of information to the unknown. I also enjoyed the very last lyric from the group singing about the 419 suspects who quite simply put it as, "you are the loser, we are the winner". Its that simple, your never going to gain from giving out information to untrustworthy sites, someone else is going to.

Wikipedia is a touchy subject in regards to information Tweaking. It's hard to say whether it is a crime to tweak the information or not for your own benefit because the basis of Wikipedia calls for anyone to be able to edit the pages. I would rather describe tweaking as misleading or sometimes propagandizing (if thats a word?) for one's own use. From the star tribune article it often looks like the most likely to do this are politicians and sadly two of them happen to be from Minnesota. Politicians can't seem to find enough ways to lie and cheat apparantly.

As a sidenote I really want to know if someone actually got scammed into coming to Mankato to vacation on the beach during the winter as the scam outlines on Gurak pages 92-93.

Mankato Hot Springs

A couple of years ago my credit card company called to inform me that they put a temporary hold on my card because of a huge Internet purchase of over $3,000 on my account. I confirmed that I didn’t approve the purchase and they started an investigation.
Turns out someone had gotten a hold of my card number (to this day, I don’t know how) and went on an online spending spree. I was relieved of the charges, but it left me feeling violated and extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately, for convenience sake, a lot of my bills are set up on online auto-pay. While I am not entirely comfortable with this, I do take my chances, as we all do on a day-to-day basis. I just make sure that the website contains the Verisign Secured and Hacker Safe symbols. Whether or not we’re on or off-line, scammers will always find a way to find us regardless of how Internet savvy we are, or our age, “ neither education, age, sex, previous experience, nor hours of computer use, showed a significant correlation with vulnerability to phishing,? (Why Phishing Works, Dhamija, pg. 2).

The video of 429 Scams in Nigeria was both sad and alarming. I have viewed these types of scams via my ‘spam’ box. But I am astonished that people (Americans) actually send in money! I am not judging anyone who has, I am surprised of the power that scammers have over hopeful victims. In terms of a Robin Hood sort of ethic- didn’t Robin Hood steal from the rich to give to the poor? In the video, ABC displayed one of the scammers estates fitted with a pool and tennis court. It appears that the scammer is giving to himself- and no one else. At the root of all of this is an epidemic that is worldwide called greed.

Unless it’s from a valid source, I take online ‘encyclopedias’ with a grain of salt.
Wikipedia is a collaboration of information from random people. Most of which do not have the credentials to be dishing out scholarly facts. It is stated on their website that it is a “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit? including their editors, ( Therefore because they set that precedent – I believe that tweaking is not a crime. And no, Steve Colbert is a comedian, not a criminal.

My favorite excerpt from Gurak’s book was the hoax website about Mankato, Minnesota. The site invites people to come explore the area and visit the Farr/Sclare Fissure. “Trouble is there is no such thing as the ‘Farr/Sclare Fissure?, (Gurak, pg. 92). This makes me wonder how many false websites I have visited to seek out things to do on my vacation. So far the Grand Canyon and the Black Hills are real places to see and go :)