PRIVACY + SECURITY BLOG

News, Developments, and Insights

The Terrifying Math of Phishing

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by Daniel J. Solove

Although we are seeing increasingly more sophisticated attempts at phishing, it appears as though many phishers still haven’t been able to get their hands on a program with spell check.  Why are we still seeing the $10 million lottery winning emails?  Or the long lost relative of yours living in Fiji who is leaving you $4 million?

A recent article explains that for the phishers, it is all a numbers game:

“So, if 97 per cent of phishing attempts are unsuccessful, why is it such a large issue? Because there are 156 million phishing emails sent worldwide daily. . . . Of the 156 million phishing emails sent daily, 16 million get through filters. Another eight million are opened by recipients. 800,000 click on the link provided, and 80,000 provide the information requested.”

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The Funniest Hacker Stock Photos

stock photos

By Daniel J. Solove

 

I produce computer-based privacy and data security training, so I’m often in the hunt for stock photos. One of the hardest things in the world to do is to find a stock photo of a hacker that doesn’t look absolutely ridiculous.

I’ve gone through hundreds of hacker stock photos, and I’ve discovered some that are so absurdly funny that they are true classics and deserve to be celebrated in a hall of fame. So I bought some of these gems to share them with you — because if there’s any sense of justice in the universe, when so much thought, creativity, and effort goes into a stock photo, it deserves to be sold.

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If you are interested in privacy and data security issues, there are many great ways Professor Solove can help you stay informed:

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Data Security and the Human Factor: Training and Its Challenges

Posted by Daniel J. Solove

According to a stat in SC Magazine, 90% of malware requires a human interaction to infect.  One of the biggest data security threats isn’t technical – it’s the human factor.  People click when they shouldn’t click, put data on portable devices when they shouldn’t, email sensitive information, and engage in a host of risky behaviors.  A lot of hacking doesn’t involve technical wizardry but is essentially con artistry.  I’m a fan of the ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick’s books where he relates some of his clever tricks.  He didn’t need to hack in order to get access to a computer system – he could trick people into readily telling him their passwords.

There have been a number of good recent articles on data security and data security training.  Robert O’Harrow, Jr.’s recent piece in the Washington Post discusses the human element to data security in his piece, “In Cyberattacks, Hacking Humans is Highly Effective Way to Access Systems.”  The article describes the increasing sophistication of phishing.  The old misspelled lottery scam emails are now your grandfather’s phishing.  Today’s phishing is more personalized – and much more likely to trick people.  According to O’Harrow’s article: “The explosive growth of cyberspace has created a fertile environment for hackers. Facing the flood of e-mail, instant messages and other digital communication, many people have a hard time judging whether notes or messages from friends, family or colleagues are real. Many don’t even try.”  O’Harrow goes on to note that “Hackers are so confident about such permissiveness that they sometimes begin their attacks in social media three or four steps removed from their actual targets. The hackers count on the malicious code spreading to the proper company or government agency — passed along in photos, documents or Web pages.”

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