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 September Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the September 2011 Actrix Online Informer. I hope you'll find something of interest this time around.
For the last few months we've been talking about this common scam in New Zealand where people are called and encouraged to download some malicious software. I had been disappointed for a long time that I'd not been called myself, but this month it actually happened. More about the experience below. And of course, the new copyright law is now in place. To help our customers understand what its implications for them might be, we've prepared a helpful article which also features below, and a web page with more information.
This month's YouTube video is a segment from the BBC's That's Life programme from 1986. It's a YouTube classic involving three German Shepherd dogs owned by a British publican who catch squirts from a soda siphon when spoken to in a rare Japanese dialect. The dog's themselves are hilarious in their intensity but the wry humour of the publican is also most enjoyable. Pardon the Dutch subtitles.
The hype about Skype
by Rob Zorn
The Actrix Online Informer has featured an article on Skype before, but that was in 2006, many moons ago, and things have changed quite a bit since then. The Skype program hasn't changed all that much itself, but nowadays just about everyone has broadband (which makes using Skype a whole lot better) and new technology means webcams and microphones are very cheap or even come built in.
With winter coming to its end and the days getting longer it’s hard not to be thinking about Christmas already. Of course our pining for holiday cheer isn’t helped by the recent snow we’ve enjoyed all around the country. It’s at this time that we start thinking about all things Christmas: budgeting for presents, planning a menu, and perhaps most importantly, catching up with friends and family abroad.
But travelling to visit friends and family now is a great way to blow the Christmas budget early, so why not try something different and Skype them instead?
Skype is a VOIP (Voice-Over Internet Protocol) program which lets users communicate over the internet by voice alone or by video. It has a number of fantastic features such as conference calling and individual and group instant messaging. This means that you can have face-to-face conversations with people on the other side of the world in real time. And best of all, it’s all free (except for the bandwidth [traffic] you use, of course!
Skype also offers a number of additional features, such as ringing landlines from your own computer. You have to pay for these additional features, but most people just don't bother using them.
Skype is easy to set-up and it won’t take long until you’re getting the most out of it. All that’s needed is a computer, a microphone, a webcam and a decent internet connection.
The fact that you’re reading this now means you’re already halfway there! The microphone is required so the person you're contacting can hear what you’re saying, and the webcam means that whoever you’re talking to can see your face as you talk. Depending on how old your computer is, you could already have a microphone and a webcam as many new computers come with these built in.
It’s unusual for a desk-top computer to have a microphone built in, but many new monitors have them, and all recently purchased laptops should have them too. Otherwise microphones can be picked up for a cheap price from any electronics store. If you don't want to use video, a simple headset microphone can be purchased for around $20. You'd pay a little bit more (but not much) for a webcam with a built in microphone. And all you have to do is plug these into a USB port on your computer and they'll start to work.
Installing Skype onto your computer is easy. To start you’ll need to download the installer from the Skype website. You’ll be given two options for download, Skype Free and Skype Premium. If all you want to do is communicate with friends and family around the world, then the free version is best for you. Many businesses also use Skype, so Skype Premium is catered toward a more professional environment and includes features you’d otherwise never consider using.
You will then be prompted to create an account. This is a very necessary step. Without an account people who may want to communicate with you won’t be able to find you. Think of it as a street address; without one you’d never receive mail.
Once you’ve created an account, download the install file and install the software to your computer. You’ll be given a step by step guide for installing the application. During the set-up and installation process you’ll be given the option to also set-up Google Chrome and “Click to Call”, a Skype feature that lets you make calls to businesses from their websites. These features aren’t necessary, so you can probably do without them; it’s completely up to you. After installing the software, you’ll be prompted to sign-in. Enter your log-in details and Skype will start. During installation, Skype makes the necessary connections with your webcam and microphone (built in if you have them or plugged in if you've bought them). Like most well-developed programs these days it pretty much installs itself.
The first thing Skype does once set up is prompt you to load a photo of yourself. When people are searching for you online, having a photo makes it easier for them to be sure they’ve found the right person. You have the option of loading a photo from your computer or Skype can access your webcam to take a photo, so get ready to say, "Cheese".
Finding contacts or people to communicate with is just as easy. Simply click the “Find Friends on Skype” button and you’ll be given a number of options. You can enter your Gmail or Facebook log-in details and it will automatically search your contacts for people who already have Skype profiles. At the time of writing there were over 17 million Skype users signed in, so chances are a number of your friends will already be on Skype.
Now you are all ready to use Skype! Spend a little time on the Skype website getting to know the software and you will very quickly be an expert, and if you ever get stuck or aren’t sure about something, there are numerous tutorials and videos on mastering Skype (as always, Google is your friend). The Skype website also has a Support page which has frequently asked questions and solutions.
Just a few tips for use. You can turn the video feature off and just rely on voice if you like.
There really is no better alternative for communicating with friends and family abroad in real time and at no cost. It’s Christmas come early!
A scam attempt at last!
As I said in the introduction to this Actrix Online Informer, for the last few months we've been talking about a common scam in New Zealand where people are called on the phone and encouraged to download some malicious software. I had been disappointed for a long time in that I'd been saying it has happened to so many New Zealanders, but it had not actually happened to me. A few days ago I received a call from what sounded like a very young woman somewhere in Asia, and the conversation went something like this.
Scammer: Hello, I'm from 'Mumble Mumble Company' and we're receiving reports that your computer has downloaded some malicious software.
Me: What company did you say you were from?
Scammer: 'Mumble Mumble Company'
Me: Oh yeah, I've heard of you. You guys are awesome!
Scammer: Sir, I said we're receiving reports that your computer has downloaded some malicious software.
Me: Oh, that's all right. I did that on purpose. I collect malicious software.
Scammer: Well, unfortunately we're receiving malicious files and viruses being sent from your computer.
Me: Yeah I know. I did that on purpose too, but don't worry. They're harmless. I was just having a laugh!
Scammer: (becoming agitated): Could you please go to your computer and turn it on right now?
Me: I'd love to, but there was an unfortunate accident this morning while I was cleaning my guns. A hand grenade accidently went off and blew my computer to smithereens.
Scammer: Oh, your computer blew up? <click>.
It was at that point I realised I had made a fatal error and that my plans to completely waste this person's time (and cost them a heap in toll charges) for as long as possible had self-destructed. And perhaps I had gotten too ridiculous too quickly. It was only afterwards that I thought of all sorts of ways I could have spun things out much more slowly and subtly.
When I talk to others who have received this sort of call, most say they just hang up. Some yell abuse at the scammers or try to talk to them about why they are being so evil. I'm fine with all of those approaches, but I also think there's no harm in giving these people a little taste of their own medicine – if you're up for it.
Why not agree to turn on your computer, but say it's locked somewhere in the cupboard. It will take you ages to find it, then just leave them hanging there while you go watch TV.
You could pretend to follow their instructions and once your computer is all powered up it could turn out you've made a terrible mistake and you've actually booted up the microwave. Is that big glass thing spinning inside the hard drive? If I set it on high for 10 minutes will that be enough to kill the viruses?
Perhaps you'll have trouble turning it on. What big button on the front? Oh that big button. Yeah, I pushed it but nothing happened. Turn my screen on? You mean I need a screen too? What does that look like?
Or Yeah, I've pushed the on button but nothing happened. Oh, wait, I think I hear a whirring sound and it's starting up. Oh, no sorry, that was a motorbike driving past. Wait a minute, yep, it's powering up. Oops, no sorry. Oh, maybe. Hang on, which button should I have pushed again?
What about, Yep, my computer's coming on now but there's a warning on my screen saying I can't log in because malicious software has been detected on it and its sending viruses to a company in Asia. What do I do now?
Endless hours of fun for all the family. I can only hope they, or one of their competitors, will try me again and this time they will not grasp so easily through my slip.
I don't think there's any great danger in doing this. These scammers are lying when they say they know about your computer and whatever state it might be in. They have no idea who you are and are just working their way through the phonebook hoping to suck you in. Once they realise you're onto them they will hang up and move on to their next victim. I understand they can get pretty stroppy (the stress of being not very nice, I guess) but you have the power to hang up at any time and I doubt they'll bother calling you back.
But perhaps the more people that waste their time, the less they'll be inclined to do it. And the more time they spend with you, the less time they have for some other unfortunate soul who doesn't get to read the Actrix Online Informer.
Copyright Act Changes
On 1 September 2011 the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act inserted sections 122A to 122U into the Copyright Act 1994. These sections provide a notice process to deal with copyright infringements that occur via file sharing networks, including:
What does this mean?
This means copyright owners can submit a copyright infringement allegation to an ISP and the ISP is then required by law to process the allegation, and depending on the circumstances, may send an infringement notice to the account holder in question.
What are the potential consequences?
If you receive three infringement notices from a rights owner within a nine month period the Act allows the rights owner to take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal. If you are then found to have infringed copyright via file sharing, the Copyright Tribunal may make an order of up to $15,000 against you.
How does it all work?
We've added a new Copyright section to the Actrix website with information for both Actrix customers and rights owners and recommend all customers read this. To view more information on how the new copyright infringement process works please click here.
What is considered file sharing?
The definition of "file sharing" in the Act is "material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time".
Examples of file sharing / peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols include Gnutella and BitTorrent, while popular file sharing software includes uTorrent, BitComet, FrostWire, Ares, LimeRunner, and Vuze.
Is this important?
Yes, we believe it is very important all Actrix account holders understand how this new law works. One key aspect of the law is that the account holder is responsible for any copyright infringement that takes place using their Internet connection regardless of whether they are aware of it or not.
Do I need to do anything?
At this point we recommend all customers:
Where can I find more information?
More information is available from the following web sites:
If you have any questions please feel free to E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on 0800 ACTRIX (228-749) between 8am and 11pm seven days.
Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Net scams hit vulnerable women: A New Zealand internet safety group has found older women looking for love are more prone to being scammed over the internet. Click here for more.
Web pirate net nabbing innocent: Innocent internet users could easily become entangled in new copyright laws even if they're not pirating movies or music, a web expert warns. Click here for more.
Che Fu's tweet drives police to web: An erroneous tweet about a gunman on the loose in south Auckland has sparked Counties Manukau police to try to take on the wildfire-like power of the internet – they have set up their own Twitter account. Click here for more.
Internet report uncovers local surprise: Small business are increasingly targeting customers in their local area through the internet, a senior Google executive says. Click here for more.
NetSafe says reforms overdue: The chief executive of NetSafe, Martin Cocker, says the Law Commission's recommendation to protect people who have unwanted personal information put online by others is clearly needed. Click here for more.
Kiwis tipped to spend $2.7b at online shops: Almost half the population will spend nearly $1400 each shopping online this year and more than a third of that will be spent offshore, a report says. Click here for more.
Racism online may become illegal in NZ: Posting racist or xenophobic messages on the internet and Holocaust denial could be illegal if New Zealand signs up to a international cyber-crime agreement. Click here for more.
Protest over 'Skynet' copyright law: A protest over new copyright law - facetiously dubbed Skynet by opponents - designed to prevent illegal file sharing over the internet failed to attract a large following in Auckland. Click here for more.
Fairfax to sell part of Trade Me: Trade Me's parent company Fairfax Media Limited has today announced plans to sell between 30 per cent and 35 per cent of Trade Me via an initial public offering. Click here for more.
Kiwi software adds movie-like experience to e-books: Kiwi software which adds a "movie-like sound experience" to e-books is being launched in New York. Click here for more.
Anonymous attack US police websites: The group known as Anonymous has hacked into some 70 US law enforcement websites in an effort to 'demonstrate the inherently corrupt nature of law enforcement'. Click here for more.
Firefox 8 to block unapproved add-ons: Starting with Firefox 8, Mozilla will automatically block browser add-ons installed by other software until users approve them, a company product manager announced yesterday. Click here for more.
Advertising online: getting bang for your buck: Advertising online is a great way to promote your business, get more customers and improve your margins. Click here for more.
'Sugar babies' internet dating for cash: Pretty young women and older men of means - 'sugar babies' and 'sugar daddies' - are pairing up thanks to a US website that openly offers companionship for money, but balks at the word prostitution. Click here for more.
Online defamation cases 'double': The number of court cases brought by people who say they have been defamed online more than doubles in a year, experts say. Click here for more.
The challenges of social media: With social media spreading rumours from riots to bank failures, politicians, businesses and governments must adapt. Click here for more.
Facebook to delete US prisoner profiles: Facebook has begun closing the accounts of California prison inmates after a convicted child molester viewed the pages of his victim from behind bars, authorities and the social networking site said. Click here for more.
Facebook's Spam King faces jail: A Las Vegas man accused of sending more than 27 million spam messages to Facebook users could go to prison for more than 40 years. Click here for more.
The other Zuckerberg steps out of shadows: Anyone who saw the film The Social Network would never have known Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had a sister. Click here for more.
Riots prompt social media review: Text messaging and social networks such as Twitter could be turned off during social unrest under plans being considered by the British government. Click here for more.
Hey dumbo, Facebook isn't sharing telephone numbers: Facebook has been forced to stamp out a silly rumour doing the rounds on, well, Facebook, that wrongly suggests the company will share any user's telephone list with their contacts on the social network. Click here for more.
Social networking linked to teen drug abuse: Time spent social networking increases the risk of teens smoking, drinking and using drugs, according to a national survey of American attitudes on substance abuse. Click here for more.
Is Facebook 'required reading?': Youngsters are ditching Dickens, Shakespeare and Keats for Facebook and Twitter, with one in six failing to read a single book in a month, according to a survey. Click here for more.
Facebook privacy overhaul: Facebook is launching one of the largest privacy overhauls in its history. Click here for more.
Disastrous first dates go viral on Twitter: First dates can be hell - and if you're part of one, there's now a chance the experience could be immortalised on Twitter. Click here for more.
Woman allegedly tried to hire hitman on Facebook: A judge has upheld felony charges against a woman accused of using Facebook to try to find someone to kill her baby's father and against a teenager accused of offering to do the job for US$1,000. Click here for more.
Privacy watchdog dislikes Facebook's 'Like': A German data protection authority is "unliking" Facebook's 'Like' button. Click here for more.
Report: Young women are 'power users' of social media sites: People keep on flocking to sites like Facebook and Twitter, and young women are leading the way. Click here for more.
Facebook hits 1 trillion page views? Nope.: The news stormed across blogs and headlines this week: Facebook had become the first website to rack up a mind-boggling 1 trillion monthly page views. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
iPhone scam targeted Trade Me members: Police say they have arrested and charged a woman over an alleged scam in which Trade Me members were contacted by text message and sold non-existent iPhones and iPads. Click here for more.
Cyber bullying more harmful – research: One in five young people has been a victim of cyber-bullying, which experts warn can cause more psychological damage than traditional bullying. Click here for more.
Suspected Chinese spear-phishing attacks continue to hit Gmail users: Months after Google said that Chinese hackers were targeting the Gmail accounts of senior U.S. government officials, attempts to hijack Gmail inboxes continue, a researcher said. Click here for more.
Assaulted woman settles Match.com lawsuit: A woman who sued Match.com after being sexually assaulted by a man she met on the dating website settled her lawsuit when she saw proof that the site was screening for sexual predators. Click here for more.
Microsoft sued by 'kissing' boss: A former Microsoft manager fired for allegedly kissing a colleague at a conference, and then lying about the incident, has sued the company in a London court. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Tweet here often? Pick-up lines for the technorati: If you're sick of all your tech-literate friends bragging about their digital stature -- Twitter followers, Google+ invites, Klout scores -- then you will love McSweeney's list of pick-up lines "for the modern Internet persona." 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.
NZ climbs to eighth in internet rankings: More than two-thirds of New Zealanders now have internet access at home, placing this country eighth out of 30 developed countries. Click here for more.
Spammers manipulate stock markets: Spam messages that tout stocks and shares can have real effects on the markets, a study suggests. Click here for more.
Firefox Is Doing So Well It's Now A Malware Target: You've come a long way, baby. Mozilla has arrived in a big way, with the 200 millionth download of the Firefox browser on Monday, less than two years after Firefox made its debut. Click here for more.
Google Earth reveals swastika water feature: Google Earth aficionados have created a bonfire in the quietA scam attemplgium by revealing that the fountain at the city council office looks like a swastika from the air. Click here for more.
To have and to hold online: To have and to hold is one thing - to sanctify your union online and subject friends and family to the story of your undying love is quite another. Click here for more.
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