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Last modified: Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Phishing at the State Fair: Indiana University targets online fraud

"IU Day" exhibit stresses Internet safety; showcases security-focused Web cartoons

Aug. 7, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- Fairgoers at the Indiana State Fair can have phishing lessons on Thursday courtesy of Indiana University's School of Informatics and Information Technology Security and Policy Offices, which will help visitors compare real and fake Web sites -- used in an identity theft practice called "phishing" -- to explain how to better guard personal details like passwords and financial information when using the Internet.

The exhibit, part of "IU Day," is located on Expo Hall Street, just north of the Gate 1A (along 38th St.) entrance to the fairgrounds. Visitors also will receive complimentary hand-out items.

"Education is critical," said Tom Davis, IU's chief information security officer. "Because phishing scams aren't likely to stop anytime soon, awareness is the most effective tool we have to combat this problem. We're looking forward to discussing these types of risks with the extended IU family during the Indiana State Fair."

Despite repeated warnings, the incidence of identity theft and other kinds of online crime continues to increase. To help spread the word about the importance of Web security, informatics researchers have created an online cartoon featuring humorous characters and storylines targeting Web users. The educational cartoons and safety tips will be part of Thursday's exhibit.

"There is a saying, 'Ninety percent of people think they are better drivers than average,' which of course is impossible," said Markus Jakobsson, associate professor in the School of Informatics. Jakobsson and research associate Sukamol Srikwan developed, a Web site where visitors get a daily dose of Internet safety education. "It is the same with Internet security: We all like to think we are safe -- until something happens to us. There is a tremendous need for better security awareness, and is designed to fill that need." is the latest in a series of research projects undertaken by Jakobsson's Stop-Phishing research group, located at IU Bloomington.

"Three years ago, we began a series of experiments to better understand how people react when using the Web, as it relates to online security," Jakobsson said. "We had three primary goals: To investigate how people respond to online scams to build better countermeasures, to identify and predict fraud trends, and to improve Web user education."

Additional information about Internet safety is available at:

Contact Neal Moore, 317-278-9208 or ngmoore@iupui, to arrange an interview or for additional information.