In an unexpected declaration from a Chicago federal judge on Monday, web giant Yahoo have found themselves faced with a class action lawsuit against them on the grounds of the sending of a large volume of unsolicited text messages to users of the Sprint Corp telephone company. Yahoo was found to have been sending ‘welcome’ messages to the users whenever another user sent them a ‘ping’ on Yahoo messenger.
Yahoo is yet to comment on the lawsuit but has unsurprisingly chosen to fight the legal claims against them. Their argument is based on the idea that the penalties and costs associated with such cases would be disproportionate to the harm caused. These costs? If the messaging was chosen to be wilful, violates the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, resulting in damages of up to $1500 per case. With as many as 500,000 users affected by the messaging, the costs would start to add up, not to mention the legal costs of each claim. U.S. District Judge Manish Shah did not believe that Yahoo’s objections to the lawsuits were reasonable and informed the affected users that they could sue as a group due to the similarity of their claims. Should the case against Yahoo be successful, the costs could easily have them writing a bill for millions of dollars.
Nothing is more annoying than unsolicited spam, even more so on your personal telephone. Hopefully, this case should deter other companies from sending unwanted messages to users in future should it be successful.
Not so long ago, Google stopped providing their e-mail service to ISPs which forced them to look elsewhere for an alternative. As a result, Virgin Media’s new e-mail platform doesn’t have a sophisticated and accurate e-mail filtering service which resulted in many genuine messages being undelivered. Many customers have already let their displeasure known via the company’s forum. One frustrated user said:
“I’ll add a ‘me too’ to this. All my emails to ntlworld and blueyonder addresses have been rejected for some time, which is infuriating as I have clients who use these. One such client has decided to jump ship from VM because of the problem—he can’t afford to have legit email rejected.”
Virgin Media responded to this message and clarified:
Apologies for the rejected email issues, if problems remain ongoing please drop me PM and I can provide contact details for our postmaster, they’ll be able to look into why these emails are being blocked for you.”
Clearly, the system is incapable of properly judging which e-mails are spam and the problems appear to be fairly widespread.
According to The Register, a Virgin Media spokesman described the situation and said:
“Since Google removed its service for ISPs from the market we’ve moved to a different email platform, meaning some emails may have not been getting through. We are helping businesses who feel their emails have been wrongly blocked.”
Doing this on a case-by-case basis isn’t ideal and only going to make customers angry while their vital business e-mails are lost. This could dramatically impact on their profit margins and nullify contracts where communication is key. Virgin Media needs to sort this out as a matter of urgency or business customers will leave in great numbers.
A thousand a day may seem like an exaggeration but when you pick up the phone to the robotic voice saying you’ve just won a great deal or that they are offering you the same deal you hanged up on five minutes ago, Robo callers and telemarketers can prove a nuisance.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in America hopes to combat this by releasing a list of all Robo callers and telemarketers that it receives complaints about. Recently the FCC reminded phone carriers that there are no legal barriers to do-not-disturb technology, a system where you able to block incoming calls from certain numbers, and the FCC hopes that its new list of potential offenders will be used by companies to help block and limit the number of robotic voices you hear on your phone.
Two things should be noted about this plan. The complaints that may end up with a number on the blocking list are not always fact checked by the FCC, so the system isn’t perfect for catching all the correct people (and maybe including some innocent ones). The other thing to note is that Robo callers are still legal in the US for charities, government and political groups, so it may not be so easy to catch all those calls.
How many Robo callers do you receive every week? Would you like to see a similar name and shame process put in place with your network providers?
Gmail has finally implemented a long-overdue feature which allows you to block “disruptive” senders and automatically divert their message into a spam folder. The tool was launched yesterday for Web users and should arrive on Android devices a few days later. Google also announced an ‘unsubscribe’ button to opt out of mailing lists without having to navigate to the sender’s website. A spokesperson for Google said in a blog post:
“Sometimes you get mail from someone who’s really disruptive. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often—but when it does, you should be able to say, Never see messages from this person again.”
“That’s why you can now block specific email addresses in Gmail—starting today on the web, and over the next week on Android. Future mail will go to the spam folder (and you can always unblock in Settings).”
To block any sender, all you have to do is click the ‘More’ drop-down menu and select ‘Block’ or ‘Unsubscribe’. This makes it remarkably simple to enable either of these functions but difficult enough so you can’t click it by accident. With the huge amount of spam e-mails, phishing scams, and abuse messages, this should have been implemented a long time ago. Thankfully, this should allow you to clean up your inbox and live a less stressful working environment.
Security specialist Symantec have conducted an extensive research programme into the amount of spam plaguing email inboxes. The results are fascinating and thorough scans reported less than 50% of received emails were junk, the lowest amount in the last 12 years. In June, 49.7% of emails contained spam content and continued the steady decline over the past few years. This trend accelerated in mid-July which recorded a figure of 46.4%.
The statistics can be a little deceiving as cyber criminals employ newer, more effective scams to access sensitive data. Malware abuse has risen exponentially at an alarming rate. For example, in June, approximately 57.6 million pieces of malware were discovered which is double the recorded amount in May. As a result, it appears malware is becoming a complete nuisance and the primary target method of attacks in 2015. Ransomware also managed to reach 500,000 entries which aggressively scaremongers users into thinking their PC is inoperable unless a financial payment is made. Unfortunately, those who aren’t technically minded find it difficult to distinguish between unscrupulous emails and the genuine article.
A spokesperson from Symantec said,
“This increase in activity lends more evidence to the idea that, with the continued drops in email-based malicious activity, attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape,”
Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.
This Summer, PayPal is introducing new terms of service that allow the company to subject customers to compulsory robocalls and robotexts, and sell your details to third-party affiliates for the same rights. The terms, that take effect on 1st July, cannot be opted out of, and allow automated communications regarding everything from debt collecting and advertising to polling.
The relevant section reads:
“You consent to receive autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages from PayPal at any telephone number that you have provided us or that we have otherwise obtained . . . . (PayPal) may share your phone numbers with our Affiliates or with our service providers, such as billing or collections companies, who we have contracted with to assist us in pursuing our rights.”
Since compulsory automated phone communications are outlawed in many countries, including the US and UK, it is unclear how PayPal plans to get away with this flagrant invasion of privacy, though maybe the terms are designed to take advantage of citizens of countries with more lax telephone policing policies.
PayPal later made a brief statement regarding the matter to Credit.com. Spokesperson Amanda Miller said:
“PayPal takes consumer protection very seriously and we have processes in place designed to ensure compliance with all collection laws.”
That certainly clears things up.
Thank you Credit.com for providing us with this information.
We all know that the internet isn’t always as nice as we’d like it to be and Twitter can be the perfect example of just that, with people not always being the kindest of folks to their fellow users. But now Twitter have now re-opened opt-in unrestricted private messaging for all users, meaning that anybody can send you a private message even without following them.
If this sounds familiar to some of you, it’s because Twitter did the exact same thing almost two years ago with a mixture of responses, with some feeling it was a useful feature by allowing them to connect easier with others, but others worried about the level of spam or abuse they were now subject to. The initial “experiment” was short-lived, however, with the company removing the feature after just over a month of releasing it.
Now the social media giant is back and ready to roll out the feature once again, open to all those who dare to use it. Whether or not the feature will be here to stay or whether it’ll just be another observation by twitter remains unknown as of yet, but it can be expected that we’ll see the same level of split opinions as before.
Thank you Macworld for providing us with this information
The US Department of Justice has charged three men with what could be the biggest data breach in the history of the internet. The three spammers are accused of stealing billions of e-mail addresses from the databases of e-mail service providers. Two of the men, Giang Hoang Vu and Viet Quoc Nguyen, are Vietnamese citizens residing in the Netherlands, while the third, David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, is Canadian.
A statement from Assistant Attorney General Caldwell read: “These men… are accused of carrying out the largest data breach of names and email addresses in the history of the Internet. The defendants allegedly made millions of dollars by stealing over a billion email addresses from email service providers.”
The three men targeted the largest e-mail providers in the world, including Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail. Considering the scope of the operation and the volume of addresses accrued, it is quite likely that someone reading this has had their e-mail address stolen by these spammers. Only addresses were gathered, though: no passwords were compromised during the data breach.
Santos Da Silva is alleged to have laundered money that Hoang Vu and Quoc Nguyen earned through their spamming through his website, marketbay.com. Da Silva and Hoang Vu have been arrested, but Quoc Nguyen remains at large. Huoang Vu has pleaded guilty to computer fraud.
Since its popularity rocketed, photo-sharing platform Instagram has been plagued with spam accounts. To rectify the problem, Instagram staged a massive purge of users it deemed to be spammers, removing well over 20 million accounts.
The purge, dubbed the “Instagram Rapture”, has had a huge impact on the top 100 Instagram accounts, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Akon, losing 3.5 million and 2.5 million followers, respectively. Instagram itself lost 18,880,211 followers. Kevin Systrom, Chief Executive and founder of Instagram, said, “We’ve been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience.”
“As part of this effort, we will be deleting these accounts forever, so they will no longer be included in follower counts. This means that some of you will see a change in your follower count.”
Oh no! Another anti piracy campaign that will change nobody’s opinion on piracy. Seriously, The UK government is starting a campaign next year that will involve sending people emails warning them that what they are doing is illegal. Example: I download loads of films and the UK government notices this, they’re not happy so they decide to inform me about something that I already know, they’ll inform me that I’m breaking the law by constantly downloading movies and shared files alike. Ok so what next you ask? Well i’ll tell you, nothing. Nothing will happen as a result of these emails, the purpose of the emails is to inform you that what you’re doing is illegal and that’s it. They’re not a threat, you’re not in trouble all it means is that you’re a pirate and the government know it.
As a citizen of the UK I will be under the influence of this campaign but I won’t change my opinion on piracy just because I might get an email in my inbox. The following video is what I think it will be like for pirates and UK ISPs.
Pretty accurate right? Apart from the sharks, the result is the same, nobody is going to care, they’ll get the email and bin it as if it was junk mail (Which it basically is).
Now what I’ve said in this article are my views and opinions on piracy and this ludicrous campaign that won’t change anything. I would love to hear what you folks think about this whole campaign as well, leave a comment!
Thanks to BBC for providing us with this information.
Fed up of getting a constant stream of marketing mails, are you unable to find the unsubscribe link in the email, or maybe you just keep putting off removing your name from the mailing lists? Well don’t worry, it looks like Google have got a solution for Gmail users that will make it as simple as one click to throw out the trash from your email folders.
Starting this week a new unsubscribe link will appear in the top header field in marketing emails. Some small percentage of users will have already had this feature, but it will now be made available to the Gmail masses automatically as Google roll out the updates.
“One of the biggest problems with the Gmail spam filter is identifying unwanted mail or soft spam,” said Google’s Vijay Eranti, who heads anti-abuse efforts at Gmail.
There is a big difference between clicking spam and unsubscribe, especially since clicking spam will flag the sender in Googles database as a spammer, so using the new unsubscribe button for genuine mail that you no longer want is important, everything else should get the spam hammer.
Hardly the biggest news of the day I’ll admit, but so many times I’ve gotten a junk email from a mailing list simply because I’m too lazy to sort through them all and unsubscribe, even today I still get mail old mailing lists that I no longer want, promotional campaigns are more, so maybe this will encourage me to limit the amount of garbage through my own email address.
Thank you IT world for providing us with this information.
If you are an employee in a corporation, most notably a worldwide corporation, then you are most likely required to send out e-mails to different departments. That’s what happened at BP, where an employee wrote an e-mail to a Mr. “Shahid” where he mentioned that an employee by the name of “Anant Prakash” was removed from the OMS Navigation Users distribution list. However, the mail did not reach only the employees in question, but the whole worldwide group of employees.
Having sent an e-mail to different users than required (in this case all BP employees), the next reasonable step was to send another e-mail in reply, notifying upon the mistake. Something like “Please disregard the previous e-mail” or “Kindly ignore the e-mail” are just a few examples that follow such an error. However, before he was able to rectify his mistake, replies were rolling in.
It started off with e-mails such as “I have no idea who this is and can you remove me from this email,” or “Similarly I think I was added to the distribution in error”. From here, others have tried to contain the thread with messages such as “OK we have all been added in error and the guy who sent the original email has already recognised his mistake!”. Alas, that did not stop the spark generated.
Soon after, all employees from different time zones were starting to wake up or take an interest in this spamming thread, some even sending replies such as “Keep me in the loop please, I love this madness! :)”. It is not uncommon for people to be amused by such mistakes, however there were other more monotonous employees who did not find it so amusing thinking it will make a difference by expressing their frustration with capital letters and hitting the ‘Reply All’ button. A glimpse of the thread can be seen below:
“CAN YOU ALL STOP SELECTING ‘REPLY ALL’ …… just reply to Patsy.”
“PLEASE TAKE ME OFF ALL THESE REDICULOUS REPLIES!”
“CAN YOU STOP ASKING TO BE REMOVED FOR CHRIST SAKE”
“Who on earth are all you people and why are you bombarding my inbox?”
Just out of curiosity; do you have a distribution list that reads “Everyone in the world”? If so, please remove me from that list.
There were even employees which missed out on the topic and were asking for someone to resend the original e-mail, followed by some employee stating that he has spoken with officials at Guiness World Recors about the thread and thought they could even break the world record with this developing spam:
“I missed the original email. Can you please resend it again………. THANKS………..!!!!!!!!!”
“Keep calm and
Keep replying All!!!”
“Don’t stop, please, keep moving”
“Have just put the phone down from the Guinness people, they say another 64 replies and we have the new world record !!!
We can do this !”
And as a grand finale to this epic spam thread, the person in cause, Mr. “Anant Prakash” replied at last, having ‘restored’ order to his fellow co-workers’ inbox folders, with the following:
“To the whole BP family who have taken the time to email me today Have a wonderful weekend – I’m off to the pub.”
After the incident about the Google services going down today, TechChrunch and Gizmodo also found some interesting things about Google’s Gmail services. If you are to search for Gmail on Google, you will get a link like the one below, which will open up a new e-mail pre-filled with somebody’s e-mail address.
The picture shows how the browser will redirect you to a new mail composer with the person’s e-mail address pre-filled in the “To” entry field. TechCruch also did some digging into the e-mail address and found out that it belongs to David S Peck, one of the internet’s most popular inbox owner. He confirmed to TechCrunch that he is indeed receiving thousands of emails, most of them blank as it does not fill the content of the generated e-mail as well. “The issue actually started yesterday,” he says, “and he contacted Hotmail support this morning to try to get help.” Ironically, he asked them to contact him at his alternate email address, which is Gmail.
We then tried to replicate the same thing ourselves, but we got a new e-mail address this time. The “To” field got filled with “email@example.com”. We did some digging into this ourselves, and we came across a Jeffrey Morse, a Naval Science Instructor from the Township High School District 214 located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Whether or not this is the owner of the address, it is our best bet since there is no point disturbing the poor man, especially if he is already flooded by other e-mails.
There has been a Google service outage, Gmail glitches that spam people’s e-mail addresses, what are we to expect next? Google’s search engine? There was an isolated case last year, in which Google’s search engine indeed went down. Are we to expect a same scenario this year as well? A lot of questions with no answer it seems.
Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information Image courtesy of Gizmodo
Fake links are nothing new on social media websites, but it is not every day you hear about the site going after the people who did it, then taking them to court over it. Most cases simply end up with the user account being banned like any other spam.
However, Facebook have filed court papers in the US against the allege Christopher Peter Targuini for the faked Facebook message that were sent on the social media website. The links promised to show you a sex tape of Justin Bieber and Salena Gomez and led you to a site that resulted in Mr Targuini getting paid for each hit, most likely through ad revenue.
The click would then hijack your page and auto post it to your Facebook friends, effectively spreading its self on the site as there are no doubt a fair few idiots who would actually click such a link.
In the legal complains, Facebook refers to Mr Targuini as a “recidivist” spammer, saying that he has been creating programs and messages for five years that are intended to scam or harm other users on Facebook. Despite warnings from Facebook that he was in violation of Facebook’s terms of service, Mr Tarquini continued his actions despite his accounts being banned.
Facebook wants him to banned from the site permanently and to be reimbursed for the cost of clearing up the mess he made on their website and of the costs of tracking him down. In short, the guy is pretty screwed.
It isn’t the first time Facebook has done this either. Last September Facebook got $3m from a spam company, and back in 2009 they got $711m after winning a lawsuit against spammer Sanford Wallace.
Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are becoming increasingly more common and visible these days, as tactics of political protest, of businesses getting one over on each other and so on. The New York Times is reporting that a fight between two Dutch companies has created the single largest DDoS attack in the history of the internet.
The “internet fight” broke out between the two Dutch companies Spamhaus and Cyberbunker. The anti-spam group Spamhaus blacklisted Cyberbunker and consequently email providers begun to mark mail sent from Cyberbunker mail servers as spam. As you might expect Cyberbunker were not at all happy about this and responded by launching a DDoS attack on Spamhaus, this DDoS attack reached a huge 300Gbps in bandwidth.
The attack was configured by using vulnerable OpenDNS servers and unprotected routers to send spoofed lookup requests to Spamhaus DNS servers. The overall impact of the attack was a slowdown in the internet for everyone particularly those using high bandwidth streaming services like NetFlix, yet it could have been prevented if people and ISPs knew how to configure their routers properly to block unauthorised remote access and if OpenDNS servers opted for tighter security controls.
“Spamhaus has made plenty of enemies over the years. Spammers aren’t always the most lovable of individuals, and Spamhaus has been threatened, sued and [attacked] regularly,” noted Matthew Prince of Cloudflare, a hosting company that helped the London business survive the attack by diverting the traffic.
The attack was believed to have been arranged by Cyberbunker and a number of Eastern European gangs who enlisted hackers to create this large network of computers for the attack. Cyberbunker offers hosting for any content as long as it is not child pornography or linked to terrorism so as you can imagine a lot of the content they host is probably related to spam because this is not against their policies.
When it comes to catching viruses, malware and adware on the internet “word of mouth” will tell you that porn websites, pharmaceutical sites and gambling sites are some of the most dangerous out there. Cisco’s latest 2013 annual security report challenges this commonly-held assumption about internet security. Cisco shows us that the data contradicts what everyone thinks. In fact, the riskier links were not found on the aforementioned “dodgy” websites but in fact on regular safe-looking websites such as search engines or online shopping sites.
Cisco has stated that the average person is 182 times more likely to download malware on a safe site’s advertisements than on those sites with pornographic content. A random ecommerce site is about 21 times more likely to see you infected with an internet “bug” and you are also 27 times more likely to download malware from a no-name search engine than from a counterfeit software website.
It is clear then that Cisco’s findings look set to shake the foundations of internet security. Internet users are hugely mislead in the way they use the internet and need to start changing the way they act in general as opposed to consigning particular types of websites to that “dodgy” category.
On a related subject the 2013 annual security report by Cisco revealed Android malware is going through the roof, up 2577% in 2012, and global spam email volumes were down 18% overall – perhaps due to a series of recent take-downs of large spam email servers.
If you’d like to find out more then you can do so here.
What do you think of Cisco’s findings? Is it likely to change the way you view surfing the web? Let us know your thoughts.