Tag: spam

Blackberry’s spam target discovery feature

Most email clients, including Blackberry devices, offer you the ability to turn off delivery confirmations and read receipts.  This is supposed to be a good thing – spammers often send emails to arbitrary addresses with receipt requests, hoping to find valid, active addresses they can pummel with Viagra offers.

Unfortunately, Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) also contains an extra special feature which automatically sends delivery receipts, regardless of whether you have all receipt types turned off!  If someone sends you an email with any type of receipt request, Blackberry’s servers send this:

Your message was delivered to the recipient.

I spent the better part of two hours this morning on the phone with technical support at Blackberry. I noted I had already run through all the available settings, switched the device on/off, removed the battery, and done a hard reset. The technician was actually able to duplicate the problem by sending me emails with read and/or delivery receipt, and he actually received the message above even before I had received his test emails on my device (confirming this is a server issue, not a device issue). Their last test required I turn the device off and then wait to see if one of these confirms occurred – I had to laugh, as they couldn’t comprehend that once my device went off and I started taking email via the desktop POP client, BIS wasn’t going to be receiving any email at all.

Nonetheless, the final item on the technical support checklist before escalation could occur was reloading the device firmware – this would solve zip, considering the results of the test (and I’m incapable of doing it anyway since Blackberry’s support for the Mac is sub-par). Further, numerous customers are having the same problem – just search for “Blackberry delivery receipt” and you’ll find plenty of forums and blogs loaded with the same complaint across multiple cell carriers…and all seem unresolved.

I’m now getting plenty of new spam, and I have this mysterious Blackberry Internet Service “feature” to thank for it.

Facebook Spam Getting Worse?

The company says they have the problem under control, but it’s probably just the first inning for Facebook spam.

Bound to happen sooner or later.

Where Spam Is Born

Where does all that malicious Internet content come from? Here.

Ahh. Feels like the good old days.

Sorry PR people: you’re blocked

Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine fame has blocked all harassment-level PR agents from his email inbox – and he’s published a list of their return email addresses for the world to see as well.

Funny, as professional harvesters will now be attacking them in droves. Many of the addresses on the list look like ‘no-reply’ buckets, so it’ll be a pain in the ass to change. But, I doubt this will be effective for Chris’s problem – now they’ll probably harrass him even more, and with a new address to boot.

I would have been silent on the matter, and dropped the list off to a bunch of blacklists instead.

Changing the world: one app, one bubble, one ID, and one margin call at a time

Having 2,000 feed items stuffed in one’s reader when returning from even the shortest vacation has me thinking about how to put said reader on vacation as well.

  • MySpace and Facebook apps suck. That’s not what they really said, but The Silicon Alley Insider did point out how little they might really be worth. I’ve got no experience with MySpace apps, and my only brush with Facebook apps was getting some notification that a friend had installed one and I should do the same. My first impression – I’m getting spammed (and others share that feeling). I would never react to such a notice again, even if I was an active Facebook user. Hence, they are worthless to me too (or maybe I’m just worthless to marketers). Also of note: based on their numbers Facebook should be worth something in the neighborhood of $850 million.
  • The New York Times infers that things are getting overheated in Silicon Valley. I disagree – I think a lot more bets are being placed on a lot more companies, and I suspect those bets are generally a lot smaller than post-Bubble 1.0. There may be a lot of duplication of effort going on, but the best execution in each category is going to turn out a winner. The money is just trying to find each of those winners. Meanwhile, TechDirt had its take on the Dallas Cowboys backing out of a domain purchase, but I says its a simple matter of the rest of the world not paying much attention to the chaos.
  • Commodities traders are in short supply. As a general rule, the commodities business also retains far fewer numbers than its big sister on the securities end. I think the actual registered headcount via the CFTC is less than 200K, while the NASD numbers hover around 800K. Someone throw me a bone on those numbers (and if anyone needs a Series 3/30, drop me a line).
  • OpenID gets a victory in the fight against phishing, as well as some competition. I think the first part is great – now the challenge is getting anyone and everyone to embrace Information Cards. On the latter, I’m going to bet it’s a non-starter – too little, too late. Despite being widely embraced, even OpenID is having slow goings regarding consumption (both in systems and people). More power to SlashID if they can be more effective on that end, but I’m skeptical.
  • After consuming this, I dropped TechMeme from my reading list. I guess I can just read each of these every morning from here on out. That, by the way, is a joke.
  • Seems that debt problems extend beyond the government, those bought out, and even mortgagees. I thought much of the last year’s rally was purely cash-driven, but I guess I was wrong. Personally, I only use my margin account for short selling.

I think that covers last week.

Don’t count on Facebook to be spam/scam free either

It’s just harder for Google to find.

Squidoo took a tongue (and Google) lashing for getting overrun with spammy pages/accounts. They’re open to the viewing public and efficient at generating attention from the rest of the internet – it was to be expected.

Facebook is growing like wildfire, and it seems a lot of folks are betting their reputations on it by showering the social network with glory. I say where there’s that kind of attention, there is bound to be someone lurking around trying to find a financial advantage. You can debate legitimate avenues for generating income off Facebook’s back, or you can keep your eye’s peeled for the sleek underbelly already working it’s way in. Some folks already see the latter, and aren’t too happy about it (although I’ll take criticism by the A-list crowd over the chance of someone from the Z-list crowd making some spare coin with a grain of salt).

Yes, Facebook has great privacy features, and it is closed off to the rest of the world to boot. But all that means is if spammers and scammers jump on the platform, it’s the users that are going to have to deal, instead of counting on Google to put the kibosh on it for them.

UPDATE: Even if the barrage that hits you is legitimate, it’s still a barrage. I don’t know what’s wrong with being so “web popular,” other than the fact that if you reject the invitations people will call you a jerk. Guess the price of online fame is bankruptcy.

UPDATE 2: Now, speculation about a hacking. Facebook offers a plausible explanation via Scoble.

UPDATE 3: More. This time it’s some source code exposed. Pete Cashmore throws in his ten cents – “An exposure of user data, therefore, is the identity thief’s dream.”

Kicking Squidoo when it’s down

There has been a lot of chatter about Squidoo as of late, and most of it isn’t very good. Squidoo, a company that…nevermind…the official description is here…has supposedly become a bit of a haven for internet marketers, and that is rarely a good sign. My take is this (including some background):

I put up a lense over a year ago. Squidoo was barely off the ground, and I was simply curious as to what it was all about. I spent about an hour doing it, and was left with the impression that the whole bit was pretty easy to use and might make a good tool for the soccer mom set. Sometime later, I had an email exchange with Seth Godin on an unrelated topic, one that frankly left me with a bad impression regarding Seth himself. Not long after that I was reminded that I had a lense out there, and I proceeded to take it down and delete my account. It was kind of a “screw this” reaction, and I thought no more about it until Jason Calacanis fired a cannon across Mr. Godin’s bow. I swung by Squidoo, and immediately found a lot of what people were talking about – tons of pages filled with nothing but keywords, and a ton of highly ranked lenses clearly created by SEO types. Not good.

Fast forward a few weeks, and you find Squidoo addressing the problem (or at least saying they are addressing the problem), Calacanis is offering congratulations for the efforts (as well as a watchful eye), all while the chatter escalates to the pages of TechCrunch. To complete the latest picture, there are plenty of folks offering up their opinion as to why Squidoo now has one foot in the grave because Google is penalizing them.

What I haven’t found is…

  • Valleywag joining the funeral (in fact they pounced on Jason Calacanis instead…and no, I still don’t read ValleyWag…I just paid a quick visit for a quick search)
  • Any reason why someone would listen to an internet marketing guy who misspells the word “Interrnet” in his blog header
  • Anyone noting the fact that Google’s actions against Squidoo are at least slightly hypocritical, considering their very own Blogger was the last bastion of spammers and they dragged their feet on that one
  • Anyone offering up any constructive suggestions that might aid Squidoo in their battle (a battle against a problem that anyone with a scalable, user generated content-based web app might face at some point in time)

I can only surmise from these observations that 1) Nick Denton likes Seth Godin and/or isn’t stupid enough to burn a bridge with a high profile marketing guy sitting in his backyard; 2) guru Ed Dale isn’t selling many get-rich-quick interrrrrrrrrrnet marketing programs; 3) Google has only gotten around to hitting Squidoo because the site just so happened to be next in line…a very very long and growing line; and 4) very few people have any good ideas while a lot gain self-worth primarily by kicking other folks when they’re down.

Number four seems to be the flavor of the day, and I’m curious to see what people are going to say when those presently winning the high school popularity contest (Facebook and Bebo) get caught in the same rut. Meanwhile, I am giving a thumbs up to Calacanis and Godin. Jason gets a brownie button for opening up regarding the situation yet still having enough class to point out when Squidoo was doing something right. And Seth gets a gold star for keeping quiet, head down, making an effort to solve a problem while faced with obvious adversity.

I hope Squidoo gets the situation straightened out and continues its climb on a cleaner slate, if for no other reason than to hear the deafening silence created by feet in mouths.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION:

1) I did not drop my Squidoo lense because of any negative opinion regarding the service – in fact, I pointed out that the site would be well suited for soccer moms. If you can win them, you can win period, which is more than I can say for a lot of services that are, shall we say, less user friendly. I dropped out because I was a little miffed. It was an emotional and probably somewhat juvenile reaction – so be it.

2) I don’t hold grudges – in fact I practice flushing the memory of unpleasant experiences the moment I’ve garnered a lesson from them. I did not point out the issue I had with Mr. Godin because I hold a grudge; I pointed it out so there would be no question as to where a “spam-hater” such as myself stood, prior to commenting positively on Squidoo and the actions it was taking to right itself (particularly in the face of the bandwagon attempting to push Squidoo through the glue factory door).

On a final note: I like trends – trends are your friends. Betting on winners and shorting losers is fun and profitable. I also believe that information flow serves a valuable purpose, particularly in the case of public companies where the sting of a negative event should rightfully be publicized. Leave investors to digest and take action on that information as they see fit. It’s what makes markets such beautiful things.

Clubbing a private, closely held company does not, however, seem particularly useful to me.

What Google should really do with Postini

Google bought another: first FeedBurner, and now Postini. I say another because these are both Mobius/Foundry Group/Brad Feld/Ryan McIntyre related companies – and congratulations are surely well deserved. I won’t comment on what Google should do with Postini – Fred Wilson has already done that, and I’m not particularly “spam inclined”. But I will say some of Fred’s comments are spot on, while others could use a little work:

  • False positives on validation emails are a big problem. But that’s really an issue for those sending the email.
  • Valid items in the spam folder are only a problem if you receive such enormous volumes of email from such a wide array of senders at a single email address that you are 1) certain something really important is falling through the cracks, and 2) rarely bother to clean it out your spam folder the first place.
  • Reputation will remain a problem until 1) the powers that be agree on a open, royalty free, inter-operable standard, or 2) Google listens to Fred while everyone on the planet simultaneously switches to Gmail.

The perception seems to be there is only one box. The real winner is going to be the one that thinks outside of it, and convinces the casual email user to follow suit.

UPDATE: More background on Postini, from Ryan.

Experts predict spam for Christmas – spend time with family instead, please

Experts are predicting a spam flood for Christmas, and I think “experts” are just experiencing the holiday blues and looking for some attention.

After the fall flood, most would agree than things have slowed considerably. I for one haven’t received any spam in days, and the rate has been nominal since the middle of November. Christmas is only days away.

Even spammers need a break, and I think they are taking it right now. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: An email security vendor reported a 35% jump in spam during November. Sorry I missed it.

If you think Viagra and stock spam are bad…

How about being pretty certain that each day you will receive several email messages containing malware? If you live and work in India, that’s exactly what you face.

Someone really hard pressed to put the breaks on the tech outsourcing craze or what?