I teach a course called “The Global Impact of
Technology.” Since technology changes so
reading includes a website with “Hot Topics” that deal with real issues
technology that I get from the Internet and various online newsletters. As I was uploading a batch of hot topics, I
realized that the online world has gotten decidedly scarier. Here’s a list of the topics since August 2004:
- Beware of jpeg Attacks
- Survival Time of
Unprotected PCs Drops
- Beware of Pop-Ups
- The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses
- House Backs Crack Down on Video Voyeurs
- AOL Moves Beyond Passwords for Log-Ons
- Internet Attacks Jump Significantly
- The Lure of Phishing
- Spyware, Adware put Internet at
- New: Microsoft
Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader
This is very scary.
So, what can you do? Some of
these issues I have dealt with in previous columns.
All of my columns are online at http://www.csudh.edu/psych/TNPTopics.htm
including: privacy (September/October 2002), Viruses (January/February
November/December 2001) and Spam (January/February 2004).
Here are suggestions to deal with some of the
- Most people have figured out that they
should not open attachments from people they do not know.
However, “hackers” have risen beyond that to more clever
techniques. Now, they are hiding their
programs in pictures. So, if you receive a
file from someone with an extension of .jpg (e.g., prettypicture.jpg)
you should not open it unless you are sure of the source.
Even if you know the source, don’t open it until you check
that the picture actually came from that person.
- You may receive an e-mail from your
bank, your credit card company, even the IRS telling you that there is
a problem and to follow a link to a website to correct the problem. The site appears to be the real deal, but in
fact it is fake. It will have pictures
that look real which they are since they were lifted from the real
website. You will be asked to input
information about your account. DO NOT DO
THIS! This is called “phishing.” According to a recent survey, 57 million
Americans have received these fake e-mails and, believe it or not, 1.8
million have provided the phishers with account information. A group called MailFrontier tested 1,000
adults and found that 28% could not identify phishing e-mail and were
ready to follow the links and answer the questions.
- A recent study indicated that an
“unprotected PC” will be invaded within 20 minutes of being connected
to the Internet. Get a good firewall
program (McAfee, Norton) and install it now.
- I don’t know about you, but pop-ups
drive me nuts. I got a new computer at
school and I started getting dozens of pop-ups immediately. I installed a pop-up blocker and the problem
disappeared. I use one that comes with the
google toolbar (toolbar.google.com – see my article from May/June 2004
for more information). It is easy to install and does the job.
- My gym has a large sign that says
camera phones may not be used in the locker rooms.
A recent news report in San Diego noted the arrest of a man
who was accidentally dropping his picture cellphone in a teen clothing
store and then snapping pictures up skirts when he reached down to
retrieve the phone. Congress just passed a bill to make “video
voyeurism” a crime punishable by a large fine and/or prison. This is sad, but true. With
the rise in technology comes a loss of privacy. Get
used to it. Soon all intersections will
include cameras to catch red light runners. Get
used to that, too. I could go on and on,
but the upshot is that technology can be a time saver and can be a
privacy breaker. If you are worried about
the security of your AOL account, for $1.95 extra per month AOL will
provide you with a device that generates a new password every minute. That should stop hackers from getting your
password! If that is not enough, Microsoft
has a keyboard with a fingerprint reader to prevent anyone but you from
logging on. I haven’t tried this but if
you are worried about security it costs $104.
- It is possible that you have a program
currently residing on your computer that is tracking your website
visits and showing you advertisements based on information about your
preferences. This is called Adware.
Spyware is similar, but it stays in the background and collects your
private information. If you are getting
lots of pop-ups or your computer is running sluggishly, you may have
one of these programs. I have used a
program called Ad-Aware and since I have had no problems it must be
working well. Download.com (where you can download it for free) gives
it 5 stars.
I am starting a new feature of this column. Each month I will offer a website that
provides a useful service. This month’s
site is winkflash.com. If you have a
digital camera you must be bewildered by what to do with the dozens of
that you take on vacation. I took over
150 on a recent vacation and was overwhelmed.
I couldn’t begin to imagine trying to print the ones I liked and
no desire to go to my local drugstore and use their kiosk to
prints. Then I discovered
winkflash. All you do is drag and drop
the images that you want made into photos and indicate the size and
(glossy, borders, etc.) and your pictures arrive through the mail
days. The price is pretty competitive,
with 4 x 6 photos costing only 18 cents.
And shipping is free!
If you find a website that you like let me know
and I will
check it out. Remember, you can always
e-mail me at LROSEN@CSUDH.EDU. I
to answer your questions.
2004, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The
National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which
may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway
Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax
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