Phishing, Smishing, and Sniffing
We know what sniffing is, and what fishing is. But Phishing, with a ‘P’? And ‘Smishing’?
After digging a bit, yours truly also figured he didn’t even know what fishing really was, even though I’d been ‘fishing’ ever since I was a child. Not in technology terms at least.
Malicious activity chasing personal banking and other private information on someone’s computer comes in many shapes or forms. In a world going more and more mobile however, new tactics – and terms – have emerged. So take note.
Especially if you use an Android powered mobile device, hackers’ ability to trick you into allowing them to grab your information is seemingly higher than if you use an iPhone. Don’t shoot the messenger. I am simply stating some facts garnered on AARP, a technology resource favourite for many.
Android powered phones are outselling iPhones, but unlike the Apple marketing machine, which closely monitors what applications are posted in its iTunes store, Android based apps aren’t supervised as well, if at all, as this article by Steve Morgenstern claims. There are as such higher chances that you upload a malicious app on an android-powered phone or other mobile tool such as a tablet.
Here are, for starters, are a few key terms to pay attention to, in order to help keep your private information safer as you navigate through the World Wild Web.
Phishing – is when an email or message prompts you should click on a link – to update security information or any other manner of personal information. These emails could appear to be issued by your bank, for example. That’s one way for the bad guys to gain access to your username and password.
Wifi Sniffing – is when private information is accessed by tapping into an open, unsecured public Wifi network that you are logged on. These can be wireless access points offered at many coffee shops and other public facilities, as well as an unsecured Wifi access point in your home. An example of this in action is the popular FireSheep application which sniffs your passwords over-the-air.
Smishing – the latest term I have come across in Web security. It combines SMS messaging and Phishing. The approach could include dubious text messages asking you to click on a short link (a Bit.ly link for instance). While convenient, these short links make it more difficult for the non tech savvy to see where the link actually leads to.
QR Codes / tags are also being used to take you where you shouldn’t go. Once you’re on the Web page of their desire, they’d just load malware onto your phone and let technology take over, grabbing whatever information they’ve designed their system to seek. Even third party contact information, so they can work them too, even by impersonating their messages as coming from you. This is a particularly effective tactic since many QR reader applications do not show you the URL the code directs to, rather it just takes you there.
But don’t lose heart. If you tend to innocently follow links that come in through to your laptop or phone, whether they’re short links, regular links or QR Codes, you may be better off looking up some anti-virus software for mobile devices such as AVG.
It’s also easy to secure your home Wifi system with a password, although that may seem like a highly technical exercise. It’s not. Start by calling customer support at your Internet provider, or the Wifi device manufacturer – they will be able to provide you with step-by-step instructions for setting everything up.
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