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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scandals & scams out in cyberspace

Scandals & scams out in cyberspace

Surely, you’ve been the recipient of an email claiming you’ve won a million dollar lottery – but you haven’t even entered. Or, maybe, you’ve received a sudden email promising a big cash advance if you invest in a business.

Perhaps, it’s an email asking for your username and password to claim a free prize.


Although some of us may be used to spam mail, many young Cambodians don’t know that these offers are illegitimate. Those who are new to social media and business communication over the net often fall victim to these scams.

We don’t know who these hackers’ target group age is – whether it’s age, nationality or occupation, everyone is victim.

“From my understanding, all people who use the internet are targets. We can’t stop these scam emails, but we can ignore them,” said 21-year-old Prak Phearak, a fourth-year student at Setec University majoring in Information Technology.

Phereak suggests that internet-users stay smart and not fall victim to hackers by straying from opening any unknown applications, software or links.

“It may be risky to click on unknown links and especially to give personal information,” he said. “Even if it’s not a hacker, it could be a virus.”

Hacking comes in more forms than email scams.

Websites can be defaced, which means the hacker has modified content and embedded code to negatively affect or even shut down the site.

Email accounts can also be defaced.

Tith Chandara, an assistant lecture and public relations director at Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication, faced a dangerous situation with a hacker just last year.

Two days before a business trip to Japan, a hacker had invaded his email and deleted everything.

“I lost all my contacts, and previous archives – I lost my flight tickets,” Professor Tith said.

Professor Tith realised just in time that he was being hacked, when he was checking his email via his mobile device.

“As soon as I couldn’t access my email through my hand phone, I suddenly got back to my computer and recognised I was hacked. I moved quickly to recover it back,” he said.

Professor Tith ended up losing his emails and archive, but was able to keep his account.

An article in IT Executives Newspaper (“Information Security: The Year in Review 2011-2012, February 16 2012) reported that Cambodian domains ending with ‘.kh’ have been especially susceptible to hacking.

‘.Kh’ sites have easily fallen victim to defacement and embedded code that creates file directories without the consent of the webmaster. In 2011, 124 sites belonging to the government, companies, schools and organisations have been hacked – a 100% increase compared to 69 cases in 2012.

Lon Chan Borey, an IT manager at University of Puthisastra, encourages young Cambodians to be aware of practising good habits when it comes to web security.

“It’s similar to keeping a safe house,” he said. “You have to know how to lock the door properly. With web security, you have to make sure to produce complex passwords – it should contain a mix of capital and small letters, numbers and signs.”

Borey also warned against running illegal software, as it makes it easy for hackers to gain access to the computer when software isn’t licensed.

Here at LIFT, our reporters also suggest creating strong passwords and staying clear of links you may not know – they could be dangerous.



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