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And So -- What's Up With The Focus On Fraud?

We've long been covering plain old phishing attacks, you know those e-mail messages you and your users get that tell you to update your financial information, or check your balances, or give you some other mealy-mouthed excuse to hand off your financial log-in information. On the surface, they look like specialized spam, but those "phishermen's special" e-mail messages are the tip of a very insidious iceberg that includes criminal theft of identity and money from innocent people and from the financial institutions that house their futures.

So, when my fellow scribes at Bank Systems & Technology, put together a series describing the entire scope of the problem, and how financial institutions and individuals can address it, I thought it important to run all three articles (see Something Phishy's Going On, Fighting the New Face of Fraud, and Keeping Up With Fraudsters) here at Messaging Pipeline. You should also pay careful attention to Gregg Keizer's recent report on the recent rise in ever more insidious forms of phishing (see Silent, Deadly Forms Of Phishing Double ).

This phishing problem makes spam look like a kindergarten cake-walk, both in terms of the initial damage and inconvenience it can cause people, and in terms of the damage it can, and is doing to the reputations of the Internet, on-line banking and commerce on the Internet, and e-mail, IM, and messaging systems in general. If we are to continue using this technology with peace and equanimity we need to get the problem under control.

Education is key. Our spam and virus experiences in recent years teach us that people click on the damnedest things, and over two millennia of experience with scam artists teach us that people fall for scams as easily as they fall for a genuinely good deal. We simply have to educate people to not be so ready to click on offers they receive in e-mails. After all, if it's too good to be true, it probably ain't true.

Help your people! Give them advice in internal newsletters. Point them to these articles. Get them anti-phishing tools. Do whatever it is you have to do, because it's up to you, and no one else! As they say in certain sneaker commercials, Just Do It!