Clueless on the Internet

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2010-01-07

I just might have to give up. For years now I've been waiting for people to get savvy about security on their computers and using the Internet.

I've always figured that eventually people would recognize the threats of being online and avoid the most obvious ones. Sort of like knowing not to run across a busy highway.

But over the holiday break I got a big, fat reminder that many people, including some pretty well-educated people, will always be easy targets for phishers, scam artists and bad guys in general.

Three times over the holiday break (three times!) I was legitimately forwarded the old "Bill Gates will pay you if you forward this e-mail" hoax. Come on, people!

Never mind that this hoax is nearly as old as the Web itself. And it doesn't even make sense anymore. AOL is mentioned prominently in the e-mail as a powerful and rich company. Bill Gates is listed as the head of Microsoft. You can practically see the original hoax writer sitting in his flannel and Nirvana T-shirt as he writes it back in the mid-'90s.

But I guess these clear signals don't mean anything. Plenty of people are still falling for this idiotic hoax. I'm tempted to contact some of the people in the e-mail who fell for it and offer to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.

Sure, laugh. Isn't it funny that people are still falling for this idiotic e-mail hoax? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I hope you're still laughing when these exact same people infect your company network by downloading any old piece of malware disguised as a game or sent through an obvious fake e-mail. I hope you're still laughing when they fall for a phishing e-mail and then give up their company log-in and password.

These are the people who impact your company security. And even if you do everything right in the way of network, firewall and system security, you'll still be at risk with users who refuse to learn about Internet security in your company.

It really does make me want to give up. But I won't. I'll keep trying to remind people to avoid the obvious threats on the Internet and hope people will finally figure out how to use some common sense when it comes to shady e-mails, Websites and applications.

Hopefully some people will start to pay attention. Or they won't, and they'll just sit there waiting for that big check from Bill Gates. I'm sure it will arrive any day now!

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