"Because she trusts you, she probably would click on the link without worrying that it might be fake," says Mitnick, a once-notorious hacker who spent five years in federal prison for his crimes. He now travels the globe teaching Fortune 500 companies how to keep their information safe.
This illustration underlines a sobering reality in an increasingly mobile, social media-driven daily life, say Mitnick and fellow security and technology experts: As more and more corporate and personal business is done via mobile devices and social media, consciousness about security in the new environment is not keeping pace.
Technology moves faster than we do, says Harry Sverdlove, chief technology officer for Bit9, an Internet security firm based in Waltham, Mass. "Technology itself progresses at the speed of electronics," but the way society uses new tools and understands the pitfalls of them tends to progress at a much more human pace, he adds.
In the rush to embrace new technologies, "we shed precautions learned with previous technology like so many old clothes," he says. A survey earlier this year by Trusteer, a financial services security firm, revealed that people were three times more likely to click on an unfamiliar link sent to their cellphone than one received on their desktop computer.
"People have very different attitudes about their cellphones than they do about their computers," says Ben Knieff, director of fraud management technology at NICE Actimize, which specializes in security services. Mobile phones have a very personal, private feel to them, he adds.