Using Characters to Detect Chinese Phishing Threats in Taiwan

Image by ShiiftyShift

OK, I swear I didn’t click anything… but had to sit through a cyber security lecture on phishing at work. The most interesting part of the largely common-sense lecture though was how you can spot social engineering emails through the accidental use of irregular hybrids of simplified and traditional characters and terms more commonly used in China and not in common use in Taiwan.

In the video they say some of these hybrids are “simplified characters” but many of them attempt to disguise themselves as traditional characters unsuccessfully.

I thought I’d point out some of the examples used below:

「大家可以登入健康信息統計系統提交……」

So in Taiwan you rarely here the term 「信息」 at all, and even less in the context of personal health data, whereas 「健康資料」or 「健康資訊」 are much more common. The term「健康訊息」 is also common but refers more to information about health, rather than one’ s own health data. One way to check this is to Google the terms in quote marks and check out the sources of the web pages and the context in which the terms are used.

“健康信息” returns mostly articles from Chinese media, like Xinhua and the People’s Daily in a context very similar to that used in the Phishing email:

Whereas with “健康資料” the first results you’ll see are from Taiwanese government’s health app and Taiwanese universities. The first one is also a 系統 like we saw in the Phishing email:

Continue reading

What not to watch: Mazu Procession review 最好不要看的《媽祖迺台灣》影評

1233333

OK, so I’ll start with the positives, this is not the worst film on the Mazu procession that I’ve ever seen, but that’s mostly because I had to trawl through the NTU vault of Taiwanese documentaries to write a review every week for my professor. The film makes a good (albeit an unquestioning and superficial) attempt at explaining what’s going on formalistically during the pilgrimage, which sets out from the north of Taiwan over 9 days, bringing Mazu, the sea goddess from her home temple to tour the island before returning home, followed by pilgrims hoping to get her blessing by carrying flags which they get blessed at every stop along the way. The film also made an attempt to explain why people were providing food and the different ways in which people participate in the pilgrimage, which already beats out the shaky student films that don’t even put Chinese subtitles, with only a brief, rather smug voiceover telling you the name of each bit in Taiwanese, but no explanation offered as to what it actually represents. You soon realize that this film was made with a specific purpose, however, and that purpose is encapsulated well at the end when the indefatigably cheerful presenter Richie Jen (a Mandopop star and actor, who finishes almost every sentence in the film with an 喔!/wo! a 加油!/jiayou! or a 辛苦啦!/sin-khó͘la!) sings a song which is as about as subtle as China’s foreign ministry: he changes the lyrics of his previous saccharine hit 〈對面的女孩看過來〉 (Look over here, girl [opposite]), to 〈對面的觀眾看過來〉(Look over here, audience [opposite]) into a marketing ploy packaging the Mazu procession for tourists from what I’m guessing he means by 「對面的觀眾」(the audience opposite), could it be… on the other side of the strait? (shock horror! Quick! Take siege to the theaters!).

The changes aren’t limited to the title, he continues to drivel on about how cute Taiwanese people are, especially the old ones and the young ones (Yes, yes, Taiwan, we already got the memo… NO, BUT WE’RE REALLY FRIENDLY!!! REALLY REALLY FRIENDLY喔!!!!!… Yeah, you’re alright I suppose… NO, WE’RE REALLY REALLY SUPER FRIENDLY! SUPER FRIENDLY, LIKE REALLY REALLY FRIENDLY喔!!!!!… I know, I know, Taiwanese people are very friendly… THAT’S BETTER喔!!!!!!!). The film failed to examine any darker side of the procession, like the associations between mafia and certain temples in Taiwan, although it pretended it was going to for a while in Changhua with the promise of fights over the direction of the pilgrimage by local temples, though it ultimately led to nothing. Other documentaries on the subject go into this link in more detail, and it provides a more interesting perspective than this cutesy romp. It also failed to give any critical perspective on the social purpose of Mazu, or to question the beliefs of those taking part. This wasn’t in the film’s remit, however, as it was essentially a promotional video – a glorified travel program, representative of the ruling Kuomintang’s line on mainlanders, specifically, “let’s take them for all the money we can.”

2/10 (It at least made an effort to be understood)

That is all.