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Tag: spam

YouTube Acknowledges Spammy Comments

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2013

YouTube logoHave you noticed an increase in the amount of spammy comments on your YouTube page in the past few weeks? You aren’t alone. YouTube has acknowledged on its Creator Blog that they have received a lot of feedback from creators about the increase in comment spam.

The increase in spammy comments began after YouTube decided to make new YouTube comments powered by Google +. The idea was that this would allow the content creators on YouTube to more easily see the comments from the people that mattered to them (like their friends, for example). Instead, something unexpected happened. The YouTube Creators Blog notes:

While the new system dealt with many spam issues that had plagued YouTube comments in the past, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch, we saw some users taking advantage of them.

To combat this problem with spam comments, YouTube is going to do some updates. The updates will include better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, improved ASCII art detection, and a change to how long comments are displayed. They are working on improving comment ranking and moderation of old-style comments. YouTube is also going to release tools that will allow creators to do bulk moderation soon.

GNC-2012-03-19 #751 April Road Show

Posted by geeknews at 1:08 AM on March 20, 2012

April is going to be simply a crazy month, so I am prepping the travel studio to take the road show to a whole new level. Lets see if we can get green during the road show :). Laid back Hawaiian style show tonight Geek fans.

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Links to all the articles talked about in this Podcast are on the GNC Show Notes Page [Click Here]

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Suspended for Complaining About Spam

Posted by susabelle at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2011

Email IconFor some of us, this story doesn’t sound odd at all.  A college student activates his campus-based debit card in order to get his financial aid payments to pay tuition, and the next day he is getting spam email in his campus email box offering to sign him up for credit cards.

How many times have we gotten spam email in an email account that we know we used to sign up for something innocuous, like an email newsletter, a sweepstakes, or yes, the bank.

I know it’s happened to me.  I actually never sign up for anything online unless I’m using a web-based email with a good spam blocker (gmail or Yahoo mail), or using a single email address on my domain that I can set a spam killer on.

The college student’s complaint was that he didn’t want to sign up for the debit card to begin with, but it was required in order to get his financial aid payments, so he activated the card.  Immediately he started getting spam email and knew that his email address had been sold by the financial institution that provided the debit card for students on campus.  This type of activity (the school requiring use of a school-issued debit card) is actually very common across the country.  The campus I worked for previously used the same type of system, as does the campus I currently work for.  What is annoying is how student’s email information is being sold by whatever bank is actually running the debit card system.

These systems are big business for the banks, and for the campuses themselves, who get a cut of the debit fees that are charged to the cards when they are used outside of campus systems.  And of course, there’s this ancillary business going on, where the banks, and then other vendors who have bought the student’s information, can start selling things via spam emails to unsuspecting young people.

Spam works because people click those links and buy those products, whatever they are. You wouldn’t think anyone would click on, and then buy, some of the items that end up being advertised in spam emails.  I regularly get requests to evaluate my insurance coverage, enlarge my male anatomy (and I’m not even male!), buy tobacco products or drugs, order replacement windows, visit a dentist, or hire a personal injury lawyer.  I get at least one email a day asking me to buy a “genuine” Rolex watch for $14.95, and sign up for nursing classes to boot!

It is also well-known that banks and other lenders try to get in the pockets of unsuspecting and naive young people, as well.  Create a life of debt for those students as they travel through their college years, building up a debt that may never be paid off in their lifetimes.  They have to make money somehow, right?

So, this student initiated his best attempt to fight back against his campus.  Unfortunately for him, in this age of zero tolerance, and campus shootings, he was suspended immediately.  He is fighting the suspension and may have won a reprieve after explaining himself.  He’s 19 years old, it’s not like he really has learned other ways to fight the system yet.  His frustration is understandable, too.

Dishonesty in business practices has always riled people up.  I know it bothers me a great deal, when I feel I’ve been lied to or compromised in some way, due to nothing I did.  And whoever took this student’s email information and shared it, whether it was the bank or the campus, should be ashamed of doing so.  Such things should be an explicitly opt-in activity.  A student’s on-campus email box should be reserved for official campus communications, interactions with instructors and classmates, and for sharing of information about coursework or other student activities.

I hope this student’s suspension is lifted so that he can continue his education.  I also hope that the campus takes another look at how it does business in this case, and protects students from these types of invasions of privacy.

Time for Yahoo to Close Groups?

Posted by J Powers at 11:16 AM on August 22, 2011

It’s another Monday and seems to be another day of inbox Spam. However, I’ve noticed recently how more and more spam groups are being created on Yahoo! and joining me. They basically say the same thing:

I’ve added you to my akljsdfklj group. a free Yahoo! Group to send and receive group messages.

Description: asdflkhasdf

To gain access, click the link…

This is another reason that Yahoo! just doesn’t care about their product. I use Google Groups all the time and don’t get any spam messages like this. Yet, every week I am removing stupid posts like in the image.

Where is the confirmation? I really have to click on a link and tell them this group is spam? Why not have some protocols in place to avoid me getting annoyed like this?

Here are some ideas that anyone running a group website could implement:

1. Multiple fields on form

Make them fill out more information than your name and small description. Make them enter in some contact information. Require a description field to be 20 words or more (not just characters). Have an algorithm determine if the description is jibberish or actually says something.

2. CAPTCHA

It’s annoying, but in a way, it’s meant to be annoying. That way, you know someone is human. Yahoo! does have some CAPTCHA algorithms that they could use in this group. It also kills the bots attempts to register groups.

3. Confirmation

Email confirmation means they have to register an email address first. That might also stop some bots from creating groups.

These are not revolutionary ideas. They have been used before and can be used again. The more we can stop spammers and bots, the less phishing scams and malware can be created. When that happens, people and companies save millions of dollars.

So Yahoo! – If you’re just going to let it continue, then why not shut down YahooGroups and get out of the business. It’s what you’re doing anyway…

Malware Myths

Posted by Andrew at 12:35 AM on August 3, 2011

GData has found that many people’s preconceptions about malware are wrong and are putting them at risk of malware infection. The vectors for viruses and trojans have significantly changed in the past couple of years and infections now mainly come from websites rather than emails and USB sticks. The growth of malware in the past five years has been phenomenal and since 2005, over 2 million malware threats have been identified.

GData surveyed nearly 16,000 web users in 11 countries regarding their views on internet threats. People are generally more knowledgeable now, with only 4% admitting to having no antivirus software on their computer, although 5% didn’t know. 48% of those questioned have free AV software and 41% have paid software. The survey is not entirely clear if it was Windows PCs only or any computer, including OS X and Linux.

GData identified 11 malware myths that can lead to a higher risk of infection. Here they are.

Myth 1: When my PC is infected, I will notice in one way or another (93%)
No, modern malware writers are smart and code their viruses and trojans to make sure that they work stealthily and unnoticed in the background.

Myth 2: Free AV software offers the same elements of security as paid for packages (83%)
Anyone who has bothered to compare the feature sets of free v. paid versions of security software from nearly any company will know that this isn’t true. Usually the free ones are missing features such as firewalls or anti-spam filters.

Myth 3: Most malware is spread through e-mail (54%)
As mail spam and antivirus filters have got better, malware in attachments has become rarer as it has become less effective. Consequently most spam / malware emails now only come with links to infected websites rather than payloads.

Myth 4: You can’t get infected just by loading an infected website (48%)
Sadly not true. Websites loaded with malware that take advantage of vulnerabilities in the browser and operating system can infect a PC even when the user is “just looking”.

Myth 5: Most malware is spread through downloads at peer2peer and torrent sites (48%)
Undoubtedly some malware is passed on via peer-to-peer but today websites are the prime source of infection.

Myth 6: It is more likely to encounter malware at a porn site that at a horseback riding site (37%)
Much as we might like this myth to be true, serious adult sites are professional and run to a high standard. The web site is key to their business and they make sure the sites are secured and up-to-date with patches. On the other hand, hobby websites are run by enthusiasts who are rarely IT experts and these websites are easily compromised by criminals who then upload malicious code to the site which subsequently infects visitors.

Myth 7: My firewall can protect my PC from drive-by-download attacks (26%)
Sadly, not true. Firewalls are a useful security component but because much malware is web-based and web traffic is generally allowed (because you couldn’t access websites if you didn’t), firewalls provide only limited protection against them.

Myth 8: I don’t visit risky sites, so I am safe from drive-by-downloads (13%)
This is much the same as Myth 6, but the point to take is that your trust in the website brand does not have a direct correlation to the likelihood of being infected. In the recent past, a couple of high-profile trusted sites have become vectors for malware without the owner’s knowledge.

Myth 9: If you don’t open an infected file, you can’t get infected (22%)
The emphasis in this myth is on the “you”. In a perfect world this might be true, but modern PCs and operating systems are so complex and do so much in the background that it’s possible for a malicious file to infect a PC regardless of what the user actually does.

Myth 10: Most malware is spread through USB sticks (13%)
In the past a large proportion of viruses and trojans would have been passed on using USB memory sticks and while they can still be a vector (Conficker!), now more malware is spread by websites.

Myth 11: Cyber criminals aren’t interested in the PC’s of consumers (8%)
As most people recognised, consumer PCs are definitely of interest to consumers, either to form part of a botnet or else to monitor for passwords for on-line services.

There is a natural assumption amongst Internet users that pornography sites are more dangerous than other leisure sites. This is a myth. Amateur hobby/leisure sites are often not professionally run like many pornography sites, making them much easier prey for hackers,” says Eddy Willems, G Data Security Evangelist. “In the past, malware was written by developers who wanted to show off their technical skills, meaning it was visible to infected users. Now cyber criminals design, sell and make use of malware that enables them to take control of PCs’ computing powers in such a way that users do not notice the infection. This covert approach not only puts users’ data at risk, but also allows cyber criminals to send spam e-mails and malware, and participate in DDoS attacks. Internet users must correct their misconceptions in order to stay safe online.

You can download the full report (.pdf) if you want more information on the survey itself and the myths.

So stay sharp out there. The bad guys are out to get you.

Do not Sell your site to the Text Link Farmers!

Posted by geeknews at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2011

Every single day, I get at least 2-3 emails from companies looking to buy text links on Geek News Central.  To date non of them have come from what I would term a valid vendor, most of them are poker sites, or some site looking to boost their page search rank. It has become so common that I send the following email in response.

“I understand your desire to purchase as you describe them targeted text links on this highly valuable website, and because you have taken the time to email me, I would like to inform you of our rates for text links. The cost is $10,000 a month, per link, with a 12 month minimum run payable in advance. All links will have the nofollow tag plus will be put in an area of the website that clearly indicates a sponsored link. Here is my paypal address to make payment”

This is usually enough to get them to go away, but some are persistent and will come back with a counter offer of $100-$500 for a 90 day run.  I ignore these responses do they really think I’m stupid.  What’s sad is that I am sure a lot of sites would sell them text links for that kind of money.

Google has specific policies for link schemes and a site risk being de-listed from the Google search engine for participating in those types of activities. Now I am not sure how I would react if someone actually took me up and deposited the money in my paypal account but at what point will link farm agents start advertising legitimately instead of wasting time trying to get me to risk all the work I have put into this website.

With the news this weekend of JC Penny getting busted doing this, it does not surprise me that 3000+ website owners sold their soul for a few bucks to help JC Penny have a banner sales season during the holidays.

So while the lure of money is great, don’t sell you soul to the text link farmers.

USA Continues As Spam King

Posted by Andrew at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2011

Sophos has published its quarterly report into spam and the USA remains top of the league for spam-relaying, being responsible for nearly 19% of all spam messages. India follows with a little under 7% and then Brazil, Russia and the UK finishing the top 5 on 4.5%.

The vast majority of spam does not come directly from spammers’ servers, but rather from PCs that have been compromised by trojans or other malware and are now under the control of the criminals. This allows spam to be passed on by PCs without the owners’ knowledge – this is spam-relaying. Consequently, these figures indicate that huge numbers of PCs in the US are infected and under the control of the spammers.

Sophos also notes that the nature of spam is changing. Previously, pharmaceutical products would have been the mainstay of the spammers’ output but increasingly the spam is spreading malware and phishing for account information. As an aside, an estimated 36 million Americans purchased drugs from unlicensed online sellers.

The top spam relay countries for the last quarter were:

1. USA 18.83%
2. India 6.88%
3. Brazil 5.04%
4. Russia 4.64%
5. UK 4.54%
6. France 3.45%
7. Italy 3.17%
8. S Korea 3.01%
9. Germany 2.99%
10. Vietnam 2.79%
11. Romania 2.25%
12. Spain 2.24%
Other 40.17%

“Spam is certainly here to stay, however the motivations and the methods are continuing to change in order to reap the greatest rewards for the spammers,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “What’s becoming even more prevalent is the mailing of links to poisoned webpages – victims are tricked into clicking a link in an email, and then led to a site that attacks their computer with exploits or attempts to implant fake anti-virus software.”

Sophos also warns that social networks are increasingly attracting the attention of criminals through malicious apps, stolen profiles and junk messages.

Apple Ping: Apple’s Social Network that’s Not Very Social

Posted by J Powers at 9:35 AM on September 7, 2010
Apple Ping

Apple Ping

I took the time to download iTunes 10 over the weekend. With it, the new service – Ping. A social network within a walled garden of iTunes.

But not really that much of a social network

The service is simple to activate. Apple – just like Google did with Buzz – placed an icon on the sidebar of iTunes. You select it and the service asks you to turn it on. You can turn the service off at any time, but you have to go hunting that option…

Once you set up your profile, you are ready to start. Just like Twitter, you find your friends and start following them. They can turn around and follow you – or maybe not.

Why it’s not a Social Network

It’s simple: you don’t get to be social at all unless an approved action or transaction takes place. You can friend someone, you can like and comment on something that happened, but you cannot really initiate a conversation. At least, I cannot seem to find a way to do that…

There is no “What are you doing now” type option. I have to wait for someone to purchase something to reply. It’s like sitting in class until a teacher says something – you can then raise your hand to comment or question.

Selective content to Ping

Since I don’t have cable in my house, I purchase the season pass for “Mad Men” through iTunes. I was surprised to not see that Ping did not post: Jeffrey Powers watched episode 405 of Mad Men. It didn’t post: Jeffrey Powers just subscribed to these podcasts or that I just downloaded the latest and greatest iPhone app.  I couldn’t even press a button to announce that I was doing stuff on iTunes.

However, I can download a song, choose to “Like” it and that information will show up in Ping.

What? I have to keep iTunes open now?

Some of us don’t think too much on this – you might have iTunes open all the time. However, I try to keep a minimum amount of programs open.

When iTunes is open, it also opens up Apple Mobile Device Helper, disnoted (for iPhone connection) and a series of other processes depending on what you have connected to your iTunes. The full list  of processes are on Apple’s website. Not all of those processes end when I close iTunes.

Spammers

Apparently, spammers hit the page as quickly as they did with Buzz and Facebook. Apple has taken steps to resolve that one. Being behind that walled garden might help curb issues. Still, if people stop using this service, it could become a constant problem. Spammers seem to love any open door.

Will Ping replace Facebook?

Not at this current stage. I always said you would have to add Farmville and MafiaWars to have that happen. Apple doesn’t even let people know what apps you bought on your iPhone.

At most it’s a sounding board for musical artists. Instead of hearing about politics, technology or sports; you find out about what music is new and what people’s tastes are in music.

For instance, if you looked at my Ping profile, you will find out my musical tastes and what songs I just downloaded.

In summary, Ping is the social network that lets you talk when it’s your turn. You can only talk about the stuff posted on the board – which is limited. I cannot even find my Twitter friends easily, which might be a good thing. You must use iTunes to use it, so if you don’t use iTunes to purchase music, this service is completely useless.

One more thing: I tried to check out the privacy policy and all I got was this (it’s the only link on the page that fails):

Ping Privacy Policy

Ping Privacy Policy

GNC-2010-05-06 #573 Become a GNC Insider!

Posted by geeknews at 9:47 PM on May 6, 2010

Some house cleaning and organizing tonight. I lay out some new initiatives that will make it easier to find information about the show. Plus we are announcing the opening of our Cafe Press store thanks to GNC Ohana Sam Garcia. You will find some new links in the show notes tonight to check out as well. Consider becoming a GNC Insider.

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Listener Links:
Asteroids bring Water to Earth.
James Cameron to make 3d camera for Mars.
AT&T to pay customers for slow DSL
Astro_Soichi: Oil spill of Gulf of Mexico
Other devices you need to destroy before Junking!
CloudBerry for Amazon S3

Show Links:
CEA says Americans buying more Tech!
Targus Power Supply recall.
FCC takes a new Tack on Net Neutrality.
Broadband reclassification by FCC.
FCC Plan.
How about Net Neutrality in your house.
Phone Booth as Car recharging station.
Bionic Arms.
Make your own Microsim.
More Kindle Usages.
3D TV Specs out of whack.
Spyware on Jailbroke iPad.
Alien Abduction investigated by Russians.
No iPhone for Verizon?
Best Buy in UK a hit.
Your First iPhone App development.
Check in With McDonalds on Facebook (GAG)
Google Goggles text translator.
iPad user Analysis by Yahoo.
Google is stuck on their design.
Digg cuts 10% of their staff.
Facebook = No Privacy = Evil!
Spammers get 2.6 Million Fine!
Patch Tuesday 2 Critical Patches.
Judge nixes iPad Warrant.
ClamCase Please?
Netflix Update coming to Roku.
Our DNA Gene pool has Neanderthal in it?
Wash your Regrets away.
Space Shuttle to fly in 2011?
H.264 comes to Ubuntu.
Sports Schedule copyrighted?
DMCA for Canada is back on Table!

Send in your stories to geeknews@gmail.com and be sure to provide a link to your websites!


US Relays Most Spam

Posted by Andrew at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2010

The USA is the worst country in the world for relaying spam, according to Sophos’ latest report on spam.  The US was responsible for 13.1%, followed by Brazil and India at 7.3% and 6.8% respectively, with the UK, Russia and Italy tied in 7th place.  In a further twist, China has completely disappeared from the top 12 and now relays only about 1.9%.

The full hall of shame is below.

1. USA 13.1%
2. India 7.3%
3. Brazil 6.8%
4. S Korea 4.8%
5. Vietnam 3.4%
6. Germany 3.2%
7=. United Kingdom 3.1%
7=. Russia 3.1%
7=. Italy 3.1%
10. France 3.0%
11. Romania 2.5%
12. Poland 2.4%
Others 47.3%

Given the amount of attention that China receives as the “Country of Cybercrime”, the table shows that US and Europe ought to be looking a bit closer to home when it comes to spam.

Sophos estimates that 97% of email received to business servers is actually spam and only 3% is legitimate email.  Frankly that’s a both scary and a disgrace.  The level of resources needed to cope and the subsequent cost incurred by business shows that spam ought to be much higher up on the agenda of our lawmakers.

Perhaps they could take a break from the usual “digital rights” arguments and do something that would help everyone. That would get my vote.