Fortune – not fame

Hacking for fame has morphed into hacking for fortune, and it’s got the residents of one Canadian city asking what the authorities are going to do about it, according to a recent study conducted on behalf of Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec.

The study, released Tuesday, reported that for Torontonians, online security is of paramount importance.

Of the 418 Toronto residents surveyed, 70 per cent said they do not feel safe disclosing personal information online, and 51 per cent are concerned about online identity theft.

And all Canadians may do well to be cautious if not vigilant, the attackers aim to hit them where it hurts, in their wallets.

“The attacks are designed to separate people from their money,” said Dean Turner, senior manager, Symantec Security Response. “This is real stuff, it makes people money.”

With spam, phishing and spyware levels increasing daily, the potential of becoming a victim of online fraud becomes more of a reality for Canadian Internet users, according to Symantec.

“Phishing is spread primarily by spam,” Turner said. “And it’s popular because it’s lucrative.”

He said people also have a false sense of security around cell phones and PDAs, and more non-traditional platforms will be targeted in the future.

The next scam coming down the pipe may affect gaming devices that have Web browsers, Turner said. “We are seeing virtual log-ins being traded for real money.”

For their part, the authorities are still trying to get a very simple message out.

“We tell people at home and at work not to open unknown e-mails,” said Barry Elliot, Detective Staff Sergeant, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). “We tell people to delete, delete, delete.”

The OPP is not trying to make the consumer paranoid because if you get victimized it’s not the end of the world, he said. Other than time, Canadians shouldn’t lose much money.

“We don’t think the average Canadian consumer is being duped by phishing,” Elliot said. “Based on consumer complaints, if we get to them right away, it reduces the chance they will be victimized.”

Elliot said that Toronto averages 13,000 legitimate identity thefts per year. It’s a number that is much lower than in the United States because Canada does not include unauthorized credit card charges.

Related links:

Hackers for hire

Hackers fiercer than ever, FBI says

Hackers value dollars most

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