The Actrix Online Informer is published each month to help keep
Actrix customers up-to-date with what's happening on the Internet, and to
help ensure they have every opportunity to benefit from it.
Welcome to the May Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the May 2011 Actrix Online Informer. We apologise for being a few days late this month.
This month's featured YouTube video is an oldie but a goodie that I hadn't seen before. It's Rick Miller's version of Bohemian Rhapsody as performed by 25 of the most annoying voices in the music industry ranging from Bob Dylan through to Steve Tyler from Aerosmith through to Barney the Dinosaur (and including many an annoying lead guitarist). Sure it's mockery, but it's also a form of affectionate flattery for some amazing artists, and most of all for one of the greatest songs (and voices) of all time. And in the end, nothing really matters...
This month we feature another article on phishing. It's a problem that's been around for a long time but still has internet users worried on many an occasion. I hope there's something of interest for you below.
by Rob Zorn
Have you recently received an email from a deposed African leader offering you millions of dollars in exchange for the use of your bank account? Or perhaps from a soldier in Iraq who has found a significant stash of drug money that he’s willing to share if you let him deposit it into your account?
What about one that appears to come from Actrix saying your account has been suspended or your email is about to be deleted unless you log in and take action?
If you’ve answered no to these questions, you're either extraordinarily lucky, or you just don't check your emails. If you’ve answered yes to these questions (and I'd almost bet the house you have), you probably don’t need to be told that you’ve been spammed.
People have been receiving spam since the pre-internet days of 1964, despite the best efforts of every ISPs' spam filters, and the easiest way to deal with it has always been to either ignore or delete it. However, in this issue I thought I would return to a particular type of spam that’s becoming more prevalent: phishing. We've dealt with phishing before, and a lot of people would probably know what phishing is, but I thought I’d go over the basics again as there sure has been a lot of it lately. Also, it’s always a good idea to recap as the people sending these emails get sneakier every year.
So what exactly is phishing? Phishing attacks are most commonly fraudulent emails that claim to be from a creditable source, and are designed to fool you into divulging personal financial data such as credit card details and account user names and passwords. The emails usually ask you to log-in to a banking or similar site and amend your personal details in some way. They usually contain a link that does one of two things. Either it takes you to a website that has been created to look identical to an authentic site – except, when you enter you usual log-in details the information is captured and recorded for future nefarious use – or it takes you nowhere but downloads some malicious software onto your computer that trawls through your hard drive looking for personal information.
I’ve received a fair number of phishing emails recently, so here are a few examples. One was from Kiwibank, telling me my bank account was about to be closed. To prevent it being closed, I would have to go to their site (link provided) and enter a few details. Of course this was a scam; all the sender wanted was my account details. Another email came to a hotmail account, telling me Microsoft were tracking this particular email, and that if I wanted to keep my account I would have to reply with my account username and password. Then there was one pretending to come from Inland Revenue, telling me I was owed a tax refund. All I had to do was go to their site (again, link provided), and enter some personal details.
Now I don't actually have a Kiwibank account, but people sending phishing emails don't care. They just send millions of these things out knowing that at least some of them will turn up in the inboxes of real Kiwibank customers who might be fooled. And when you're sending out millions of emails, a success rate of less than 1 percent can still be fairly sizeable.
This is, of course, the first way to tell whether an email is authentic or an attempted phishing attack.
Another way to identify a phishing email is to remember that banks and Inland Revenue and TradeMe and Hotmail etc have it as part of their policy never to send you a link asking you to log-in. If they do require you to do anything, they may ask you to log-in, but always by typing their website into your address bar rather than providing you with a link. That way you can be sure that the site you’re visiting isn’t a fake.
A further and very obvious way to identify a phishing scam is that the emails you receive will often be poorly written, full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Often the senders of these emails are down-right lazy; some might copy in the company’s logo they're trying to impersonate into the email, but others won’t even bother doing that.
There are a couple of reasons for the generally poor quality of the emails. The first is that a high percentage of these emails actually come from India, Brazil and Nigeria, where English is not a first language. The second is that these emails are generally intended for people who are fairly new to the internet. These people are easier to fool, and are less likely to suspect a few spelling mistakes and a dodgy logo. Or else they become so alarmed by the dire warnings they've received that they decide to "play it safe" and follow the email's instructions – which is the least safe thing to do!
If you do receive a phishing email, don’t be worried. Feel free to delete and forget it. The sender has no personal information on you, and millions of these emails are sent around the world each day, so there’s no call for concern. Sending an email back will only let the sender know that your email address is active and "ripe for further spamming".
If you’re ever worried that an email might be a phishing scam, you can always ring the company or outfit that it says it’s from. They would be happy to tell you whether they sent the email or whether it’s just someone going phishing.
New Copyright Amendment Bill passed into law
The Government's new File-sharing Bill designed to replace the contentious Section 92A of the Copyright Act, which was scrapped in March 2009, has now been passed into law.
The new Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill puts in place a system of warning notices to be issued by ISPs to end users accused of copyright infringement (downloading stuff like music and movies illegally).
The new law will take effect from 1 September and allows copyright owners to apply for a Tribunal order for a sum of up to $15,000 if end users receive three infringement notices. That's why its is being referred to as the "three strikes" law. The option of a further penalty in which copyright owners can apply for a District Court order requiring the ISP to suspend the end user's internet access for up to six months has been postponed for now.
Actrix will comply with the law once in effect but at this moment the details of how it will be implemented have not been finalised. However, we will make an announcement on Actrix policy in regards to copyright infringement and the application of this new law before any enforcement begins.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Internet's new boom arrives in Kiwiland: Are rising internet company stocks globally just another false "dotcom" dawn or should Kiwi companies be doing all they can to jump on the bandwagon? Click here for more.
Fibre ready homes 'anything but': Some new homes built in areas marketed as "fibre ready" do not have the wiring to support ultra-fast broadband, says an industry standards group. Click here for more.
NZ up in global IT rankings: New Zealand has improved its position in global rankings measuring how countries take advantage of new technology, moving closer to overtaking Australia. Click here for more.
TradeMe cheat vows to repay: A woman accused of scamming more than $10,000 from Trade Me online shoppers says she will repay her victims. Click here for more.
Pirate Party to fight election: The Pirate Party, which is opposed to changes to copyright law that will take effect in September, hopes to contest the party vote in the November election, aiming to emulate the success of similar parties in Europe. Click here for more.
Groceries not high on online shopping list: The number of Kiwis shopping online is at an all-time high, but picking up the milk and bread is not top of the shopping list. Click here for more.
New Zealand territory world leader in cybercrime: The tiny New Zealand territory of Tokelau has become a world leader in cyber-crime. Click here for more.
Online buyers lose $100,000: Nearly 40 people who bought cars on Trade Me have lost a combined $100,000 after the seller put his company into voluntary liquidation. Click here for more.
Be sociable for success: Small businesses need to think about faster bandwidth and the rise of social networking when setting up online, says a business lecturer. Click here for more.
Average Kiwi has 124 Facebook friends: UMR Research says 70 percent of Kiwis' Facebook friends are people they haven't seen since school, and 35 percent are friends with someone they've never met in person. Click here for more.
Broadband connections double in five years: Fixed broadband connections have more than doubled in the last five years, to reach 61 percent of households, latest research has revealed. Click here for more.
ISPs could recoup just $2 per copyright notice: Internet service providers may end up being able to recoup as little as $2 for sending out detection, warning or enforcement notices under the controversial online file-sharing amendments to the Copyright Act; but they may persuade government to let them charge as much as $28. Click here for more.
US shuts down massive cyber crime ring: US authorities claimed one of their biggest victories against cyber crime as they shut down a ring they said used malicious software to take control of more than two million PCs around the world, and may have led to theft of more than $US100 million (NZ$125 million). Click here for more.
Bieber and Angry Birds lead Webbys: Pop sensation Justin Bieber, Grammy Award winner Arcade Fire and the Angry Birds mobile game are among the nominees for the leading international honour for web content. Click here for more.
Missing messages on etiquette: Just last month something historic happened in the world of email. The Associated Press officially removed the hyphen from the word "email" in its stylebook. In business, email is the chosen form of communication whether we want to reach someone across the desk or across the planet. Click here for more.
Dodgy cybersquatters more active in 2010: The number of challenges for cybersquatting – the misleading use of trademarks for internet domain names - rose by 28 per cent last year, the World Intellectual Property Organisation said yesterday. Click here for more.
The battle of the browsers: New versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome offer faster page loading, streamlined designs and additional features, including ways to block web advertisers from tracking your online movements. Click here for more.
Perverted Justice vigilante sentenced for DDoS attacks: A computer programmer was sentenced to two years in prison for unleashing crippling attacks on rollingstone.com and other news websites that published humiliating accounts of an adulterous online affair he pursued with a fictitious woman. Click here for more.
Online war against intolerance: Danny Webster's grandfather fought for freedom in World War II. Now Webster is waging his own war on intolerance, but his battlefield is online. Click here for more.
Tobacco firms eye Facebook push: Tobacco companies are looking at Facebook and YouTube to promote their products if New Zealand introduces new anti-smoking legislation. Click here for more.
New-time religion: Can Easter be celebrated online instead of going to church? Aleks Krotoski ponders the effect the internet has had on religion. Click here for more.
Rape claim forces dating website to vet users: The dating website match.com has been forced to begin checking its clients against criminal databases after being sued by a Californian woman who claimed to have been raped by a convicted sex attacker she met on the site. Click here for more.
Copyright hurdle for fast internet: New copyright law could hinder the uptake and use of ultra-fast broadband networks, says an international industry analyst. Click here for more.
ustin Bieber loses YouTube crown: Justin Bieber has lost his King of YouTube crown to Rebecca Black. Click here for more.
WikiLeaks releases classified files on Guantánamo Bay: WikiLeaks has released over 100 military dossiers detailing prisoners at the US prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, promising to release more than 600 additional classified documents over the next month. Click here for more.
Regular surfers not so law abiding: Frequent internet users are less likely to respect the law, serve on a jury or do volunteer work, a study has found. Click here for more.
Web force for good, not evil, study finds: The internet has emerged from the dark side. Far from being a tool that isolates its users, weakens society and undermines important institutions, Australian National University research shows the net as a force for good. Click here for more.
Royal wedding breaks internet records: Britain's royal wedding broke records for live streaming on Friday, internet firms said, causing some websites to falter under the strain as hundreds of millions watched online. Click here for more.
How to use social media for your business: Planning, listening and creating are the cornerstones to success in social media for small businesses Click here for more.
Altercation puts new spin on cyberstalking: 'Victim' agrees not to visit the Facebook page of the 'offender' for the next 20 years in a cyberstalking case with a difference. Click here for more.
Students suspended after 'rating' female teachers: More than 50 students from a Brisbane Catholic boys' college have been suspended after rating their female teachers according to appearance on a social networking site. Click here for more.
New twist in Facebook legal drama: The drama of the Facebook story heightened yesterday as a man with a shady past used old emails and a powerful law firm to press his claim to half the online social networking firm. Click here for more.
Don't 'friend' the boss on Facebook, Kiwis say: Almost half of Kiwis say they are uncomfortable with "friending" their boss on a social networking site because it blurs the line between personal and professional relationships. Click here for more.
Facebook hoaxer angry at charge: A man has been charged with impersonating a police officer after he set up a false Facebook page using the details of two current officers - including the Deputy Commissioner - and messaged a woman claiming to be an internet cop. Click here for more.
Fry in Twitter joke jail 'pledge': Actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry says he is "prepared to go to prison" over the "Twitter joke" trial. Click here for more.
Facebook trying to 'friend' journalists: Facebook is taking major steps to ensure that its News Feeds contain more actual news. Click here for more.
Kate Middletons shut out of Facebook: The woman who will marry Prince William on April 29 at Westminster Abbey has a face and name known around the world – which is creating some hilarity and a host of problems for the hundreds, if not thousands, of women who share her name. Click here for more.
Social networks get to work : Social media is playing a bigger role in finding jobs than ever before, and it may be time to refine your job hunting strategy. Click here for more.
Facebook predator unmasked: Natalia Burgess, 28, of Mangere in Auckland, has assumed multiple false online personalities to form internet relationships with teenagers. Click here for more.
Facebook investors look for exits: Facebook shareholders are reportedly seeking to offload US$1 billion worth of shares on the secondary market, which would value the company at more than US$70 billion. Click here for more.
Facebook jumps into crowded coupon market: Facebook began offering users in five US cities coupons for everything from wine tastings to concert tickets on Tuesday, turning up the competitive heat in an increasingly crowded market. Click here for more.
Facebook page seeks to return items to tornado victims: A group on Facebook has created a page to try to link victims of Thursday's tornadoes with photos, documents and other personal effects blown away in the storm. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Police probe 'teen' honey trap: Thirty new schoolboy victims of a female Facebook predator have come forward in what police now class as a sexual grooming operation. Click here for more.
Parents tame the web: Too many parents worry about what their kids are up to online but feel they lack the expertise to do much about it. Click here for more.
Postings a tweet for burglars: You've packed the car, told the neighbour to feed the cat and the only thing left to do before you leave for holiday is to update your Twitter feed. Click here for more.
Cyber-stalking laws review urged: A senior police officer in Britain has called for a Home Office review of the legislation used to prosecute cyber-stalkers. Click here for more.
Microsoft co-founder slams Bill Gates in new book: Bill Gates plotted to grab Microsoft shares from his cancer-stricken business partner Paul Allen, the software firm's co-founder has claimed in a new memoir. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Granny brings down internet: Usually when there are internet problems in former Soviet countries, people suspect nefarious government interference. This time, though, it was a granny on the hunt for scrap metal who damaged fibre-optic cables leading from Georgia to Armenia and knocked the country's internet out for hours. Click here for more.
Stripper stalker broke into Google: A woman who claims Google is "inside her head and making her do things" quietly gained entry to the company's Silicon Valley headquarters last month. Click here for more.
Each month we dredge through our archives to pull out stories from the Actrix Newsletter of exactly five years ago. Sometimes these stories will show just how much the net has changed in such a short time, and sometimes they'll be included just because they're interesting.
It's the economy, stupid: It’s hard to believe that in 2006 the number of dial-up internet users in New Zealand is still rising. Statistics New Zealand says the number has increased by almost 5% from last year and that's from a pretty high base. Click here for more.
NZ still a straggler in broadband race: New Zealand continues to wallow near the bottom of broadband uptake rankings despite Telecom's doubling of customer numbers in 2005, OECD statistics show. Click here for more.
Little piggy cam becomes web hit: A webcam in Cornwall which has been showing the lives of a farrow of newborn piglets is proving to be an international success. Click here for more.
New Trojan encrypts data, demands ransom: First adware, then spyware, now ransomware... Click here for more.
Unease over how the net is run: While stability and security remain an important objective, today no one seriously questions the fact that internet governance extends far beyond technical concerns. Click here for more.
Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).
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