Current events and computer security increasingly have a lot in common. Put top news stories like the death of Michael Jackson and Web surfing habits into family discussions or dinner-table chat, and it’s win-win for everybody. Kids gain a little in media literacy, and family computers avoid infection. “How can that be?” you might ask. More and more Web sites – including those of the best media companies and nonprofit organizations – are getting hacked and “booby-trapped,” the San Jose Mercury News reports. “A human isn’t required to click on an email link or to agree to install any software. Instead, the sites automatically download software onto visitors’ computers” – called “drive-by downloads.” Where do big news stories or Michael Jackson come in? Cybercriminals target the sites that get the most traffic. Computer security firm TrendMicro tells us that “this past week, we did see a lot of cybercriminal activity designed to take advantage of the rush to the Web, and search for information and posting of tributes to Michael Jackson. We tend to see this a lot for celebrities and big events (elections, Olympics, you name it). Where the people go, so do the pickpockets.” A particularly egregious recent example – specifically targeting kids – happened on the discussion boards for Neopets; FoxNews reports. It’s called social engineering: “The ploy is simply using normal human behavior (curiosity + rushing to the Web to popular places for info) against people,” TrendMicro adds. Users click around unthinkingly. “It’s like driving by an accident – our urge to satisfy our curiosity actually could put us in danger ourselves on the road.” Drive-by downloads = valuable new-media-literacy lessons. Mindful surfing, downloading, and uploading can be taught again and again in different ways, with the top news stories as talking points and teachable moments.
NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- Pretty faces in social media vs. mass media
- Risk implications of kids going mobile: Research
- A positive, insightful new book for schools on bullying
- Students called heroes in this 6th-grade class
- In the face of school violence, what do we default to?
- Popularity: The other kind of vulnerability
- FB & Oculus VR: The potential of a virtual-reality platform
- What’s (importantly) different about Snapchat
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
- Anonymous apps and services are not synonymous with ominous
- Facebook’s ‘Nearby Friends’ feature: What you need to know
- Identity theft a problem from cradle to grave — Kids most vulnerable
- How to protect your family from Heartbleed security flaw (slideshow)
- Beware of Heartbleed inspired phishing scams
- Are sites you use vulnerable to Heartbleed security flaw?
- Microsoft ends support of Windows XP: Machines highly vulnerable to security risks
- The evolution of online safety: Lessons learned over 20 years