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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Computer security sea change & youth

You know that old argument about Mac vs. PC security? Well, it really is an old argument now. Computer security really isn't about what operating system your computer has anymore. Now it's really about 1) what browser you use and where you go online, and 2) how smart you are (or your child is) about protecting passwords and financial information online (social engineering), CNET reports. "Lots of people who may already be nervous around computers often just do whatever the computer [or email or Web site] tells them to do," CNET says. That's called social engineering. But children, who are most definitely not nervous around computers, can be gullible too when they get messages like "check out this video" or "click here to find out how to start your modeling career." For adults, it's also tempting to click somewhere to "update their bank account information." There are also event-oriented and seasonal scams, e.g., the Olympics and filing tax returns. "The problem for the security industry is that even if Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, and Opera all make the most secure browser ever, it still won't prevent things like phishing scams [such as the above]. Along with skepticism about advertising, gossip, and flattery in emails, IMs, and social sites, children need to be alerted to casual messages like the above that may really seem like they're from friends or acquaintances. Knowing how social engineering works can go a long way toward protecting both children and computers (both of which contain large amounts of confidential information!).

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