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Sunday, October 15, 2006

College Students Go Phishing More Than You'd Think

According to a study conducted by Indiana University at Bloomington, college students are not quite as safety-savvy as we'd like to believe. In fact, an alarming number of students fell for a "benevolent" (for research only) phishing scam conducted by the university.

According to the Gartner Group, about 5% of US adults are successfully scammed by a phishing scheme, with "successful" being defined as ultimately releasing personal information to a bogus site or organization.

Using a common scam, the Hoosier researchers sent unsolicited e-mail messages purporting to be from eBay. They prompted students to "verify their account information;" and a startling 14% of them actually submitted personal information to the website linked from the e-mail ... which was at IU, not eBay. The complete study is available as a PDF at this link (NOTE: DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK), and runs a manageable 10 pages.

The upshot doesn't take ten pages, though: Students need to be better-educated about online scams and safety on the interwebs. It's high time somebody-- maybe an army of Google-certified teachers?-- builds technological safety into the basic "intro to computers" curriculum offered at the lower grades, and that they refresh that instruction every year.

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