View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Cybersecurity
January 9, 2020

Krugman Draws Ridicule, Sympathy for Credulous Response to IT Scam

"It's an ugly world out there"

By CBR Staff Writer

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has drawn ridicule from information security professionals – and some sympathy – after tweeting his credulous response to an apparent social engineering attack, in an incident that neatly captures the work still needed to educate even the highly educated about online security.

In a now-deleted tweet, the New York Times columnist, wrote: “Well, I’m on the phone with my computer security service, and as I understand it someone compromised my IP address and is using it to download child pornography. I might just be a random target, but this could be an attempt to Qanon me. It’s an ugly world out there.”

Social engineering scams involving calls claiming to be from IT support are not uncommon. They can form part of so-called whaling attacks, in which high profile individuals including business leaders are targeted with fake emails or calls designed to trick the target into giving attackers access to their computer network.

As the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) emphasises in its board toolkit: “Senior executives or stakeholders in organisations are often the target of cyber attack, because of their access to valuable assets and also their influence within the organisation. Attackers may try and directly target your IT accounts, or they may try and impersonate you by using a convincing looking fake email address.”

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester

Security firm Symantec warns that access to powerful machine learning tools mean an arsenal of audio and video manipulation tricks may soon also become part of such attacks, which are typically highly personalised to draw the attention of executives.

With even Nobel laureates apparently convinced merely by a call pretending to be from IT support, however, deepfakes look like overkill: there’s no shortage of low-hanging fruit for attackers. Paul Krugman appears to have got away unscathed, other than taking something of a reputational knock for the initial public response.

“The Times is now on the case” he added early Thursday, January 9.

“Times thinks it may have been a scam.”

(His reference to an attempt to “Qanon me” refers to a far-right conspiracy theory that entails a belief in a satanic “deep state” paedophile ring. Donald Trump has previously retweeted posts by Qanon members and Qanon hashtags.)

The incident comes after the New York Times fired its highly respected Senior Director of Information Security Runa Sandvik, and eliminated the position.

 

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.
THANK YOU