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by Gary

Every day thousands and thousands of computer users fall victim to the multitude of online security threats. Viruses, SPAM, Trojan horses, Spyware, Phishing, and just plain old fraud are rife. We all know it, many of us make it our business to minimise the risks, but for many others it is all just too hard or too confusing. This breeds both paranoia and victims.

The victims of online security attacks pay a high price. Their personal information is stolen and used in the worst of ways, loans are advanced in their names, their credit cards are charged with fraudulent transactions, and entire savings (or even entire mortgage offset accounts) are transferred out for the credit of criminals. While some of these victims are able to recoup their losses through claims, their ‘victim-ship’ is transferred to the credit card merchants and banks who ultimately foot the bill when a claim is paid.

Meanwhile, the paranoia builds amongst the rest of us. Our trust takes a battering, and we start losing faith in E-Commerce. If we let it get to us we reduce (or altogether cease) our online purchases, and this time the merchants suffer from a decrease in sales volumes. We know where it goes from there: they lose, we lose.

Responding in some way to the limited consumer understanding of online security, the Australian High Tech Crime Centre and the Australian Bankers’ Association have developed a Fact Sheet entitled Protecting Your Information Online [PDF]. This is a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” to the subject (but without lame jokes), with content including:

  1. Avoid being caught by fraudulent e-mails;
  2. Tips for protecting your computer [a good prelude to our tips]; and
  3. Using Internet Banking [safely!].

What makes this publication especially valuable is that the advice in it is for everyone, not just confident computer users or people working in IT, but for our parents, wider family, and friends: the potential victims of a future security threat. While it is an Australian publication, the advice is well and truly global. This is the kind of document that should be sitting in the E-mail Inboxes belonging to our family and friends (along with the jokes you forward), and I can only think of one way you could get it to everyone in your address book. 😉

Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Criminology High Tech Crime Brief reports that Identity Crime and Phishing are on the up and up (and up!). Perhaps we could all do our bit to try to reverse this trend by spreading the news?

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New Windows Virus Alerts
also by sophos.

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