Wednesday, April 06, 2005

From BBC Online

'Geek speak' confuses net users

Cartoon depicting the confusion over tech jargon
Terms like "phishing" only confuse people

The average home computer user is bamboozled by technology jargon which is used to warn people about the most serious security threats online.

Many are often left vulnerable because they have no idea what they are supposed to be protecting themselves against, a survey for AOL UK has found.

Confusing "geek speak" used by experts and media included "phishing", "rogue dialler", "Trojan" and "spyware".

Eighty-four percent did not know that phishing describes faked e-mail scams.

The most common phishing scam is one used to con people into handing over bank account details online.

A quarter said they knew what "spyware" was, although almost one in 10 of those thought it was a computer program that kept an eye on unfaithful partners.

"Some of the terms being bandied around are more suitable for a computer programmers' convention than for people who want to go online at home, " said Will Smith, AOL's net security expert.

"If internet users can't understand the language used to describe these risks, they are going to find it hard to protect themselves from being ripped off."

It is particuarly important that people know what threats there are to security online, and how they can easily protect themselves, as more people get high-speed net connections.

"Keylogging" is a particular threat that hit the headlines recently.

Computer criminals, who unsuccessfully attempted to steal money from Sumitomo Mitsui bank last month, used keylogging to record every key pressed on the bank's computers to get at sensitive passwords and other data.

Horse in my PC?

The "Do you speak geek?" report found that 83% people were worried about personal information getting into the wrong hands.

Yet, only 39% knew what a "Trojan" was when asked.

A Trojan is a malicious piece of software which installs itself on a person's computer without their knowledge.

One of the most common net security threats, it hides in the background and can trigger programs to run that steal personal information or details stored on that computer, for instance.

A surprising 16% had never heard of the term "spam" to describe unsolicited e-mail, even though 76% were worried about junk e-mails.

Twenty percent admitted they did not know what to do to protect themselves generally online.

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