Entitled “Phishing, Pharming, and the latest potholes on the Information Highway“, Ian’s talk covered several topics related to our syllabus, including online identity as well as privacy and surveillance.
Other than questions on securing personal Internet use, one student asked why these hackers often misspell words like phishing and pharming with a “ph” instead of an “f”. While most of us geeks know that it’s part of the hacker culture known as “leetspeak“, perhaps it’s useful to dig back a little in time…
According to Wikipedia’s entry on Phishing:
The first recorded mention of phishing is on the alt.online-service.america-online Usenet newsgroup on January 2, 1996, although the term may have appeared even earlier in the print edition of the hacker magazine 2600. The term phishing is a variant of fishing, probably influenced by phreaking, and alludes to the use of increasingly sophisticated lures to “fish” for users’ financial information and passwords. The word may also be linked to leetspeak, in which ph is a common substitution for f. The popular theory that it is a portmanteau of password harvesting is an example of folk etymology.