When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

View previous topic View next topic Go down

When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Post by shanaya on February 26th 2009, 7:38 pm

Got this in a newsletter I receive. The first part describes us almost to a T! Not the marrying part but the friendship, and closeness even though we have never met in person.

When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Once upon a time, there was a pretty clear line of demarcation between RL (Real Life) and cyberspace. When I first started using the Internet, those worlds only occasionally merged. Oh, sometimes a friendship that started out in a chat room or on an email discussion list progressed to meeting in person, even eventually - for me and a number of others - to marriage. But once a relationship "went live," its status changed, and it moved from the "online" category to the "real world" category.

Even now, I think there is a subtle difference in the way I relate to those of my online friends that I know in person and those who remain words (and sometimes photos) on a computer monitor. But the distinction between the two is blurring more all the time. A couple of years ago, we threw a party and invited the members of one of the mailing lists I'd belonged to for a dozen years. People came from as far away as Australia, and we were meeting some of them in person for the first time - but it didn't feel like a first-time meeting. We had shared so much for so long I felt as if I knew those online friends much better than, for example, I knew my neighbors.

On the list, this little group had become almost like family. We'd helped each other through illnesses, divorces, deaths in the family, job changes, and other traumatic life events. We'd celebrated one another's birthdays, marriages, new children/grandchildren, promotions and other happy times. We'd had friendly (and occasionally not so friendly) disagreements about politics, religion, lifestyles, and values. We'd lost list members along the way - some who got mad and left when the arguments got heated, one who passed away after months of battling cancer. We had talked to each other about things we couldn't discuss with our "real world" friends or even our spouses. Finally being together geographically was less like "meeting" than like going home.

But the convergence of the virtual and real worlds isn't just about relationships. What we do online now often leaks out into our offline lives. And it can go the other way around, with things in the real world affecting our computers. We think of malware threats as something that comes to us over the Internet, but hackers are going "real world" now, too. Recent reports tell of a new scam that uses the credibility of the offline world, along with your fear of the law, to launch a phishing attack.

Here's how it works: you find an official-looking "parking violation" notice on the windshield of your vehicle, but instead of (or maybe in addition to) a phone number, it lists a web site you can visit to find out how to take care of the ticket. The site installs malware on your PC, giving the hacker a back door by which he/she can steal your data and/or take control of your computer.
http://www.wxpnews.com/0RCBJB/090224-Spreading-Malware

The first incarnation of this scam is not very well done and has been limited in geographic scope, but it's a good bet that others will follow suit with more sophisticated versions. With more and more government agencies encouraging people to do business with them through the web, it's likely that a well done fake could lure quite a few folks to the malicious site. After all, your guard is up when you get an unexpected email message, but many people are much less suspicious of a printed document that appears in the "real world."

Scammers have also taken to using the telephone in a similar way to initiate their attacks. You might never click a link in an email purporting to be from your bank, but what if someone from the bank called you on the phone and informed you that your account may have been compromised, and asked for your credentials? The best of these scammers will express concern for "security" and insist that you call them back to "verify" that the call is legitimate. And of course, the number that they give you to call is answered with the bank's name. Some even go so far as to spoof the caller ID information so your phone displays the name of the bank when they call.

Once you're satisfied that they are whom they claim to be, they may direct you to a special "secure" web site (one that they've set up with an SSL certificate so you'll get that comforting little "lock" displayed in your browser to assure you that it really is secure) or they might just bypass the computer altogether and ask for your logon credentials over the phone. Unfortunately, many people will comply.

Phishing attempts may also come through the postal service. Ever received a letter from a collection agency, stating that it's attempting to collect a debt? The problem is that you've never heard of the "original creditor" nor do you owe any money, or at least not in the amount that the letter claims. Usually these letters offer to allow you to pay off the debt for a much lesser amount, but only if you send the check right now to the listed P.O. box or mail drop (they never give a real physical address). Of course, legitimate collection agencies use the same tactics, so it can be difficult to know the difference if you really do have outstanding debts. In today's economic climate, with many people falling behind in their payments, we can expect more scammers to get in on the gravy train and send these letters, hoping the victims will assume they're real and send the money.

Sometimes when the paths of your online and real world lives cross, it's a good thing. Other times, it's not. Most of us have raised our awareness about the threats that come through email and other online venues, but it's important to realize that those same scammers are getting smart and taking their games offline in an attempt to con more people.

What about you? Have you ever been the victim of a "crossover" scam attempt? Do you tend to put more trust in a phone call or letter you receive in the mail than you would place in an online contact? Do you know someone who would fall for the parking ticket scam, or would you have been likely to fall for it yourself before reading about it? How about the good ways in which the virtual and real worlds collide? Do you find that those two worlds are much less separate now than they used to be?
avatar
shanaya
Admin is da shiznit!
Admin is da shiznit!


Back to top Go down

Re: When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Post by baldwindeb on February 26th 2009, 8:47 pm

I dont know about falling for the parking ticket.
I do know about falling for my online friend though. John and I met online 10/27/99 and we have been best friends since. Very Happy
avatar
baldwindeb
Assistant Administrator
Assistant Administrator


Back to top Go down

Re: When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Post by shanaya on February 26th 2009, 9:11 pm

Cool! Some of my relatives met online and some are married to this day. Sweet!
avatar
shanaya
Admin is da shiznit!
Admin is da shiznit!


Back to top Go down

Re: When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Post by shanaya on March 2nd 2009, 7:45 pm

Follow-up: When (real and virtual) worlds collide

In last week's editorial, I wrote about how our online and "real life" worlds seem to be merging more and more - and ways in which computer hackers are now using "real world" techniques to launch their attacks against your system.

Many of you have already gotten wise to the fact that a phone call or "snail mail" correspondence is now no more trustworthy than an email message. Dollyce B. wrote: "I trust nothing. The (supposed) Seattle Times called me on the phone, asking if I'd like to renew or something like that. She needed [credit card] information. I say, how do I know you aren't someone sitting in a closet in Russia? Give me your name and ID and I'll call the Seattle Times and ask them to put me through to YOU. She seemed surprised, but cooperated. She was legit, but how would I really know that?"

And Wayne S. related this: "I've been housesitting for a friend that is off travelling. His phone rings off the hook all day from scammers purporting to be with credit card companies, satellite dish cos., home improvement wizards, and of course, someone saying they will fix your broken credit. His phone is worse than my email scammers. I especially liked the satellite Dish Network scammer that the said his Dish installation is scheduled for Friday and to call the number to qualify for more free additional goodies. People WILL fall for this one. So, it's not just the internet."

Elliott C. notes that there is a bright side: "While this is no comfort to those who have been affected by a real-world scam, at least the real-world ones require effort. The parking ticket scam requires someone to physically go up to a car. This means they can be seen (and possibly caught). Similarly, mail and phone scams can potentially be traced to their source. The result is that there are likely to be much fewer physical resources (people, paper, stamps, etc.) to perpetrate the scam than a spammer that can send a virtually unlimited number of emails to anywhere in the world for free. And, especially in the case of the parking ticket, the real world scam is not going to come from another country which might have relaxed laws or be lacking in law enforcement. All this means is that we are less likely to get hit by a real-world scam than a virtual one."

When it comes to scams, Mac H. offered this very good advice: "Always suspect that you are being scammed and the chance that you will be may not be eliminated, but will certainly be reduced." But that doesn't keep the scammers from trying. Mark N. tells us what happened to him: "I got called by someone who said they were from Microsoft and wanted to know our MSDN account number. I asked them why they needed this and they said to verify our account, and I told them to search their database since a tech company like Microsoft will have such a database and numerous backups. The other party hung up."

Some of you are now experiencing a convergence of the real and virtual worlds as you take your job hunts online. George M. wrote of that experience: "Lately I have been posting resumes online in search of new projects. No sooner than I post a resume do I start getting spammed. Replies include "Reply to your resume, possible interview" or "take our survey" or visit some web site to decide what I think about some company. This has also led to related junk mail in my P.O. box. I don't think anything online is sacred or safe any more. I fully expect scammers to next start asking for my social security number and other information needed by real employers."

Others have managed to keep the real and virtual worlds more separate. Kenneth F. wrote: "I've not really experienced that convergence of real and on-line "worlds." Maybe this is because I don't "meet" other persons on the Web, although I do correspond (the present message an example). I do understand that others do, especially those less than half my age, but I'm content to treat Web sites as representations and E-mail as correspondence, neither seeming to me as a substitute for reality. Many other means of socializing over the Web, such as social sites, instant messaging, and the like, are not interesting me at all."

And Mike P. had this happy ending to share: "My virtual and real worlds came together in a great way. I met my wife on a chat program that a friend told me about. I was just having fun talking to people from different parts of the world and came across this nice woman from Malaysia. We chatted online and then on the phone for a year, after which she came to the US to visit. We got married later that year in the US and had another ceremony in Malaysia. It's now 5 years later and we're still happily married in the US with a 13 month old baby."
avatar
shanaya
Admin is da shiznit!
Admin is da shiznit!


Back to top Go down

Re: When (Real and Virtual) Worlds Collide

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum