Computer Crime Research Center


Phishing out your account

Date: February 11, 2006

So my Dad calls me up last week to tell me that he’s just got a call from his building society to say that his account has just been completely emptied out. Great. At least Nationwide had the good sense to immediately realise that it was a fraudulent transaction and that he’d be reimbursed in full the same day. Phew.

Not surprisingly it seems that his account details had been stolen when he was doing his online banking on his laptop, presumably by some form of key logging Trojan. Ironically only a few weeks ago I had to clean up his notebook, which has been infiltrated by Spyware. I thought I’d got the little buggers, but clearly I hadn’t done a good enough job.

Even with Lavasoft’s Ad-aware, Microsoft’s Anti Spyware Beta and CheckPoint’s Zone Alarm all installed, the Trojan still managed to get in, and more significantly get out again, taking my Dad’s bank details with it.

The problem is that my Dad just isn’t computer savvy enough to deal with the threats that anyone can face online. If things like those pop-ups that look like Windows dialogue boxes flash up saying, “You have been infected with Spyware! You must click here now of your computer will burst into flames!” he’ll just thinks, “Well, I don’t want that,” and obediently clicks on it. You see, he can’t distinguish between things that are generated by a program that’s designed to protect him and one that’s out to do damage. It not his fault. Now I’ve hit the wrong side of thirty even I’ve become aware of differences between myself and those used to using technology since school. He’s got no chance.

Which, of course, brings me on to Internet Explorer 7. Now the office disdain for Microsoft’s browser is pretty heartfelt, with no more vocal proponent than our erstwhile News Editor Gordon. We only use the thing because’s mysterious back-end system will only let us upload pictures using IE - no other browser will work. Nobody, not even the people who created it can tell us why, which is the sort of unexplained bizarre thing that helps keep astrologers, religious authorities and technical consultants in paid jobs. While this limitation will be thankfully remedied when our new site comes online (‘Real Soon Now,’) for the moment we’re stuck with it. Which is why I was looking at IE7.
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