You know an issue has reached public relevancy when it is being portrayed in the morning comics, and it appears even Dilbert's pointy-haired boss is vulnerable to phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are a growing threat to consumers and often look far more legit than Dogbert's effort. Phishing is just one of the many online and data security issues that have become mainstream for politicians and the public alike. Deceptive computer crimes such as phishing, spyware and spam have all gained the attention of Congress, with CAN-SPAM legislation passing last year and numerous spyware and phishing bills currently being considered in both houses.
Another bill, the US SAFE WEB Act, which was introduced at the end of July, is a broader bill, focusing on cross-border fraud that would allow the FTC to cooperate with foreign nations to confront the aforementioned issues, and as I said in a previous Progress Snapshot, is the more appropriate course to take when legislating in an effort to address online crimes.
While an amusing comic, Dilbert may be doing more than giving us a chuckle this morning. A key component to protecting ourselves from phishing, spyware, spam and any other type of fraud is consumer awareness and education. Although making a joke of the issue here, the comic is still bringing the issue to the general public, helping to raise awareness of the problem. Legislation on these issues seems inevitable in some form, but regardless of what is passed, it will not be enough to quell the problem. Consumer awareness plays a crucial role in helping people defend against just such attacks by better equipping them to determine which email messages are legitimate and which are fraudulent. Consumer awareness will not stop fraudulent messages from being sent, but it will mitigate the costs to consumers from such attempts.