[Ads-l] Spear-fishing as culturally insensitive

Geoffrey Steven Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Thu Nov 13 14:45:26 UTC 2014

I subscribe to a listserv of CIO's around North America (the other part of my life revolves around academic computing policy and privacy issues--which explains my signature). 

Yesterday someone a university in the Midwest wrote to ask whether anyone had been dinged for using the term 'spearphishing' (targeted emails attempting to steal someone's password). 

Apparently some Native American group is objecting to the term as being 'culturally insensitive'. After some debate (I'm guessing) the university involved made the following statement: 

"[X university IT division] will henceforth use the term 'targeted phishing' in its campus communications in lieu of 'spear phishing.' 

Any external, non-[university] web sites to which our own communications might link (for example, U.S. Government sites) could feature the “spear phishing” term, however. Similarly, any [university IT]-purchased security training materials could include the term because of its conventional usage. 

In all our communication efforts, though, we remain mindful of the concerns of [university]’s Native population." 

just fyi.... 

Geoffrey S. Nathan 
Faculty Liaison, C&IT 
and Professor, Linguistics Program 
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT) 

Nobody at Wayne State will EVER ask you for your password. Never send it to anyone in an email, no matter how authentic the email looks. 

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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