Posted by: David Harley | August 31, 2010

Email scams, anonymity and ethics

I just came across, courtesy of a tweet by @FSecure, a nice little resource at On Guard Online listing some common email scams. Security gurus might not learn a lot from it, but less jaded Internet users certainly might.

I particularly like the fact that it actually includes a reporting point – – to which such nuisances can be forwarded. Once upon a time, I used to get an awful lot of reports from the UK’s NHS (the National Health Service, which employs well over  a million people), and know from bitter personal experience it can be to steer them to the right people, i.e. people who can make some appropriate use of the information. In fact, many ISPs, government bodies, law enforcement agencies and such were (and in many cases still are) more concerned to avoid being crushed by an avalanche of reports, and I can certainly empathise with that…

The same site has a number of other useful-looking pages, though I haven’t checked them out personally: for example, children and privacy and the internet, other forms of abuse, and social networking.

Sabina Datcu’s paper for BitDefender on “Social Networking and the Illusion of Anonymity”, which I’ve previously mentioned here and here, reminded me of a rather nice paper by Mich Kabay that he presented at EICAR in 1998. (I think that was the year I presented my first paper there. It was on social engineering, and I was very nervous indeed…). Mich’s paper is called “Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Cyberspace: Deindividuation, Incivility and Lawlessness Versus Freedom and Privacy“, and while the paper is as long as the title suggests, it’s not nearly as dry as it might sound. While checking for a current URL, I also came across his page on ethics. And that’s important because… well, I’ll come back to that another time.

I’m tied up with a conference for the rest of the week: when that’s over, though, I really should try to establish a resources page for some of this stuff. Watch this space…

Mac Virus Administrator
ESET Senior Research Fellow
Small Blue-Green World


  1. […] I came across a nice governmental resource at On Guard Online, listing some common email scams. Security gurus […]

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