[ISN] UK citizens confused by security terminology

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Apr 5 01:04:37 EDT 2005


Dan Ilett
April 04, 2005

Many people in the UK don't understand terms commonly used for 
Internet scams and hacking attacks, a study suggests.

A survey conducted by Populus and entitled "Do you speak geek?" 
revealed that words, such as phishing, rogue dialler, Trojan and 
spyware were often a mystery to 1,000 people questioned, of whom over 
half were Internet users. 

A spokesman from AOL, which commissioned the study, said that home PC 
users were more susceptible to scams if they were unfamiliar with the 
concepts and words behind them. 

"Some of the terms being bandied around are more suitable for a 
computer programmers' convention than for people who want to go online 
at home," said Will Smith, a security professional at AOL. "If 
Internet users can’t understand the language used to describe these 
risks, they are going to find it hard to not get ripped off."

Rogue diallers are software applications that are secretly installed 
on a computer and dial premium rate telephone numbers for Internet 
access. This can result in expensive phone bills. A Trojan is a 
seemingly innocuous application that secretly installs software or 
performs actions which are malicious in nature such as giving hackers 
control of the machine the Trojan is run on. Spyware programs secretly 
copy information that is entered on a computer and report it back to a 
third party.

A high number of respondents, 83 percent, said they were worried about 
their personal information being stolen. Identity theft email scams — 
known as phishing scams — have been widely reported in the press, but 
the survey found that 84 percent of those questioned failed to 
understand the term. 

Thirty-nine percent of people surveyed were unfamiliar with the word 
Trojan. And although 76 percent of respondents were concerned about 
the number of junk emails they received, 16 percent said they had 
never heard of the term 'spam'.

More than a fifth of respondents admitted not knowing how to tackle 
online security problems.

AOL claimed that the majority of people surveyed understood Internet 
scams after they were given a simple definition of the word 

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