By Dan Heuchert
October 6, 2009
If you see someone strolling around Grounds this month in a fish
costume, think of your computer.
That someone is likely Karen McDowell, an information security analyst
at the University of Virginia's Information Security, Policy, and
Records Office. She spells the name of her costume "p-h-i-s-h," after
the computer "phishing" scams that seek to trick the unwary into giving
away personal information - and potentially a good portion of their
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the time of year
when McDowell breaks out the phish costume and hands out computer
security literature. But there are serious events planned as well.
A kickoff event will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Newcomb Hall
South Meeting Room, with opening remarks from state Del. Rob Bell, who
successfully sponsored a bill to strengthen Virginia's identity theft
laws. His remarks will be followed by a presentation that includes
specific suggestions for avoiding identity theft, and information about
security issues relating to social media, computer and Internet
security, and the coming rollout of an enhanced NetBadge system at U.Va.
A free buffet lunch will be available to the first 40 attendees.
Similar presentations will be held on subsequent Thursdays, at staggered
times: Oct. 15 at noon, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m., and Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. All are
scheduled for the Newcomb Hall South Meeting Room; snacks and small
prizes will be provided.
Phishing scams are a real problem on the Internet. Typically, they come
in the form of an e-mail from an apparently trusted source that prompts
the recipient to reply with personal data. Some phishing scams readily
seem to be pretty "fishy" - an e-mail from a bank that holds none of the
recipient's accounts, or the ubiquitous messages from Nigerian lawyers
or European lottery officials claiming to be holding large sums of money
for you, to be released once you provide an account number.
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