Your shout! On finding a way to report phishing scams

In response to Malcolm Frary, who wanted to know how to report banking phishing scams (Letters, 26 October)



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On finding a way to report phishing scams

In response to Malcolm Frary, who wanted to know how to report banking phishing scams (Letters, 26 October)

The banking industry launched a website, www.banksafeonline., on 1 October to help online banking users feel more secure about making transactions online. The site provides information on phishing scams.

If people receive any suspicious messages, these can be reported by forwarding the message by e-mail to

Tom Salmond, consultant, Bank Safe Online

I recently received a credit card statement for a card I had not used for six months. A spate of high-value purchases had apparently been made from companies in several different countries.

I assumed they were online transactions and that they had probably originated in the US, as dollar exchanges were included on the bill.

The credit card company asked me to supply a police crime number. I contacted my local police who told me that the crime had to be reported to and the crime number issued by the police force in whose area the crime had been committed.

My suggestion that the crime had been committed against me and was therefore in their area was not accepted. They suggested that I treat each transaction as a separate crime and report each one to the police force in whose area the purchase had been made (even though these companies were spread around the globe).

I understand that such credit card crime is widespread, yet neither the police nor the credit card company seemed equipped to deal with it.

Kim Smith, advanced product development, TRW Conekt


On charging for e-mails to deter spammers

In response to Russell Ellis, who asked why spam companies cannot be traced and fined (Letters, 26 October)

If I understand it correctly, companies send spam because they actually receive enough respondents for their (mostly) unsavoury wares to make it worthwhile. The margin is very close, but sustainable at present.

Could not all the service providers make a simple charge of 0.0001p for each e-mail to everybody they serve, just enough to make most spamming uneconomical?

For the vast majority of us, including medium to large companies, this would be a drop in the ocean. For spammers, it would be the end of their profitability. The sheer immensity of the volume of e-mails would make this meagre cost significant.

It might also persuade smaller scale spammers to focus their legitimate mailing activity more appropriately.

Ralph Little, Tribal Data Solutions


On sacrificing training for roll-out costs

In response to Tony Collins, who claimed that the national plan for IT in the NHS would potentially run over budget, leaving little cash to train GPs in new systems (Computer Weekly, 18 October)

The actual figure involved for the NHS IT programme is very much a wet finger in the air, but the idea that NHS Department of Health mandarins have not considered training just seems incredible.

I have an agreed budget to install Microsoft Office on all my company's PCs instead of Lotus Smartsuite, but I cannot roll it out because the staff training budget has not been agreed. To apply the migration without training is a complete non-starter. There also seems to be a huge potential variation in final costs.

Perhaps there is a competition in government departments as to who can have greater inflation in their project than the Scottish Parliament building?

Alan Stewart, senior IT engineer, Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society



Real challenge of the Act is cultural change

Your article on the impending Freedom of Information Act (Computer Weekly, 26 October) quite rightly threw doubt on the ability of many organisations to comply with its requirements in time for the 1 January deadline.

It is impossible to predict what the demand for information will be until next year. Although it is difficult to foresee the full extent of the impact of this change, most organisations will be telling staff to assume that all the documents and e-mails they write will be disclosable.

The installation of archive and search and retrieval systems that are freedom of information compliant could make a tremendous difference to an organisation's capacity to handle the full force of this legislation.

It is true that in the commercial world the Act is a huge issue for anyone sending information to a public body as it may be accessed by the public at large and by anyone in the world, whether that is a lobby group, a campaigner, the press or a competitor.

The Freedom of Information Act's real challenge is changing the mindset from one of non-disclosure to total transparency as the public monitor what civil servants, council officials and others are doing on their behalf.

In the long term, as decision-making processes are made clearer to the public, the goal of developing more accountable and responsive public sector services will be realised. The time and expense of ensuring compliance through the right systems for the task will be worth the final result.

Ian Quanstrom, Zylab UK


Computing degrees are broad for good reason

I am writing in response to Robert Chapman, who said IT teaching should be more interesting and relevant (Letters, 26 October).

I graduated from university this summer with a degree in computer science. Students pick courses based on the content and are more likely to choose a course if they think the content will help them get a job.

As with most courses, my degree featured several mandatory modules, including Java, project management and systems engineering, along with optional modules that were the result of the research streams of the department.

In my opinion, the optional modules on offer were extremely interesting and definitely not "dull", and included geographical information systems, mobile communications, computer vision, image processing, artificial intelligence and computer security.

The idea of a degree is to give a student a broad knowledge of many areas in that discipline and not concentrate on a single one. Consequently, graduates are not suitable for most IT jobs because of their lack of experience in any one area. The best way for employers to capitalise on a graduate is to find out their interests and modules and find a job that builds on the knowledge they gained during their degree.

Andy Mitchell, Office for National Statistics


College courses may be IT history lessons

I have been following the letters regarding ageism (Letters, 26 October). Robert Chapman seems to have hit the nail on the head regarding training. I am aged over 40 I found myself having to find a career and return to full-time work.

I studied computing at a local college in 2002 writing DOS batch files and learning DOS-based Pascal. Our high-level networking project was then carried out on a Windows 3.11 platform - quite an experience for the other students who had no idea this was more a history lesson than modern IT.

Now I am over 50 and enjoying life in a busy IT department. But for how long?

Pauline Budworth


Why most software is of unknown origin

In Gary Barnett's article about the dangers of paying SCO without a refund guarantee (Computer Weekly, 19 October), he mentioned that the case "serves as an important warning about the potential dangers of downloading software with unknown origins". Surely this should read "the dangers of using any software with unknown origins".

Doesn't most software have unknown origins? Microsoft has bought out enough companies for their code, why does that make them immune from this kind of problem?

Several companies have taken Microsoft to court for patent infringement and most have failed. I do not see anyone worrying when this happens to Microsoft (except Microsoft, obviously).

The only difference with the SCO case is that the code in question is available for everyone to see (at least from the IBM side).

Chris Clemson, Software AG

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