…or rather, not!
Phishing is a term created for these times and it’s not a good thing. Unlike fishing with a pole and bait, phishing uses deceit and trickery to try and get those who aren’t careful to reveal personal information like passwords, credit cards, etc. Once criminals, and there’s not other appropriate word for them, get their hands on this information, they literally can become you in the electronic domain.
Phishing attacks typically appear in email or on websites asking you to go to a website or complete a form with your personal information which is then hustled off to those who would then have their way with your details.
The easiest way to avoid a phishing attack is to not use your computer or go online. But, in this day and age, that’s not really an option so how do you do it safely? There are some commonly recommended safety techniques like using up to date browsers which warn of potential dangers before you get there. How to get the latest? There’s a cutely named website called “Browse Happy“. It will point you to the latest and the greatest.
The second easiest way to avoid these attacks are to use your head and common sense. If the Bank of Montreal has detected a security issue with your account, do you really think they’ll contact you by email? Actually, do you even have an account with the Bank of Montreal?
It can be a problem in schools which use standard once-a-year images. Updates to browsers and operating systems are released regularly to make things safer. But, if you’re using a locked down image, you may not get that security goodness. And, what about student use at home? Are they securely using the latest and greateest? So, often we’re down to common sense. To learn about it makes you a better digital citizen.
Commercial vendor PayPal has an area devoted to teaching about phishing.
There is great advice and instruction about just what phishing is explained in very school-aged appropriate language. And, to top it off, you can take their challenge – a short quiz that tests your knowledge of phishing. It’s entirely appropriate for a lesson in class for students and, indeed, good for quick PD for anyone.
And, if you get it right, you’re awarded this really cool badge. We all like badges, don’t we?
What could be better? Shouldn’t we all be champions?
p.s. the other benefit of an updated browser is being able to play the cool HTML 5 games you’ll find online like these from Microsoft!