[ISN] UK citizens confused by security terminology
isn at c4i.org
Tue Apr 5 01:04:37 EDT 2005
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 cant 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
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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