Editorial: Pitfalls of modern technology

By Roger Moroney

A chance conversation yesterday with a chap in what I would describe as his "mature" years made me smile.

He had been reading the paper and saw a story about a recent computer spam saturation which has unsettled many people throughout the Bay, and the rest of the land.

He was with me on this one - that technology had out-accelerated our ability to keep the reins firmly on it.

Not that he was too disturbed by the recent spam barrage, as he insisted no such spams or scams or phishing or worms would accordingly worm their way into his life.

"I don't have a computer ... don't need one," he said.

"Problem solved."

Which, when all is said and done, in his particular case it is.

But he is an exception today as the computer has effectively become a driving staple of life.

Entertainment, education, information, accounting, corresponding, socialising, sporting, creativity - its e-tentacles are global and growing.

Which, when you lay it out simplistically, and rather innocently like that, is a fine thing.

But as we know, with every new step into the e-unknown there is unwanted baggage to carry.

The day the home computer began to hit the shelves the rogues turned their backs on chequebook frauds and counterfeiting cash to seeking ways to e-drill into personal files to retrieve information and money.

Such pursuits have, sadly, become even more sophisticated than the very systems they slither their way into.

You shut one portal, one avenue into the global web, and the bandits simply get to work to find another one.

The days of the obvious and the clumsy scams and spams are sadly over.

They are getting sophisticated.

This latest intrusion caught out otherwise canny and experienced computer users because it first arrived (before being outed publicly) in a format which suggested it was from a person known to the user. The hacking was widespread, and every person who opened what appeared to be a message spread it further as the bandits sourced their files.

Such attacks are insidious and nasty, and here to stay.

And it will only grow, as the e-systems continue to expand and evolve.

The disturbing part is, you get the feeling one day the whole thing could be steered into global meltdown - what a weapon to dissolve an enemy or rival.

The only advice is tell no one anything. You don't give out any details and you don't open attachments if there is any shadow of a doubt over them.

And (with apologies to Lord of the Rings) use the one key that rules them all ... it's down the right-hand end of the keyboard ... it's called 'delete'.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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