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August 22, 2007

Gullibility--A Scammer's Best Friend

I was reading an analysis of the injunction that a federal district court, based on claims in a law suit brought by MySpace. While I had seen accounts of this about a week ago (an interesting legal analysis can also be found here), there was a quantitative point that was news to me. And rather disturbing.

According to today's posting, the defendant had allegedly created a phishing-type system that led initial recipients of MySpace messages sent from his 11,000 MySpace accounts to log into a MySpace lookalike site, where—get this—320,000 users gave up their usernames and passwords.


O. M. G.

I don't have a MySpace account—more than anyone could want to know about me is splattered across my web sites—but it is apparently pretty popular among the younger set. I'd love to see an age distribution chart of the 320,000 users who were so eager to hand over their accounts to a stranger. My assumption (yes, I know to "assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me") is that those who did this skew to a lower age than the entire MySpace population.

It points to one of the greatest challenges facing privacy protection and Internet security. Younger folks are less likely to be suspicious of potentially harmful activity orchestrated by strangers with Brandy. Thus, they are more likely to go clickety-clickety on unknown links and attachments arriving via unsolicited email from senders they don't know. Ooh, a free video game...Install! When faced with a logon screen that looks anything like ones they've seen before, they are eager to ace the test by entering data they have down cold.

We obviously can't rely on parents to teach their children well about Internet scams. Mom and Dad too busy ordering Viagra from China and planning how to spend their commission from extricating twelve million dollars from a lock box in a Nigerian bank vault.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 09:38 AM