One of the few things more annoying than having to contend with hundreds, if not thousands of vuvuzelas while trying to watch a World Cup game is putting up with spam. And like the vuvuzela, the World Cup seems to be drawing out these annoyances, with MessageLabs estimating that 25 percent of global spam is related to the event.
"Right now, spammers are reliant on the massive wave of excitement and expectation that typically surrounds an event like the FIFA World Cup," said MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Paul Wood. "Riding this wave, spammers get the attention of their victims by offering products for sale or enticing them to click on a link. It is not uncommon for the event to appear in the subject line of an email but for the body of the same email to be completely unrelated."
With the U.S. out of contention, England falling in controversial fashion, and the World Cup as a whole soon coming to an end, this probably won't be the case for very long, but that doesn't mean there will be a sudden reduction in spam. According to the report, nearly nine out of 10 emails are now spam, and in the U.S., exactly 90 percent of email is spam. Engineering is the highest sector for spamming at 94 percent, while Education is a close second at 89.9 percent followed by Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals at 89.7 percent.
Time Magazine earlier this week ran an interesting piece arguing that email may be hurting our off-line relationships, and before you dismiss the whole idea has hogwash, take a look at some of the studies they've dug up.
Researchers from Duke University, for example, found that from 1985 to 2004, the percentage of people who said they have no one to discuss important matters with tripled, jumping to 25 percent. In the same study, researchers found that Americans had a third fewer friends than two decades ago.
Time Magazine then went on to cite another study, this time by the University of Michigan, in which it was discovered that college students have much less empathy now than in decades past. The reason, Time argues, could be that email and social networking has blunted the practice of building real friendships off-line.
"Technology has made us much more efficient but much less effective," said Gregory Northcraft, a professor of executive leadership at the University of Illinois who specializes in workplace collaboration. "Something is being gained, but something is being lost. The something gained is time, and the something lost is the quality of relationships. And quality of relationships matters."
Read the whole argument here (and there are other studies referenced in Time's write-up), and then hit the jump to sound off.
According to CPP, a U.K. provider of life assistance products and services, digital crooks sent out some 3.7 billion phishing emails during the past 12 months. A little over half of these -- 55 percent -- are fake bank emails designed to lure potential victims into coughing up their credit card numbers and login passwords.
"It seems that not a day goes by without a new case of online fraud hitting the headlines. But what's concerning is that consumers are still falling victim," said Nicole Sanders, an identity fraud expert at CPP. "Fraudsters are becoming ever more skilled in their techniques and tactics. It can be extremely difficult to spot a legitimate email from a scam, so we advise caution at all times when online."
Lottery hoaxes and Nigerian 419 scams remain ever popular, but social networking scams might be the next big thing. Everything from phony Facebook messages to fake Twitter accounts are being used to dupe users, CPP said.
Andrew Auernheimer, a 24-year-old authorities believe is one of the hackers who participated in Goatse Security's shenanigans in which some 114,000 iPad owners' emails were obtained through a security flaw and then posted online for all to see, has been arrested. Want to venture a guess as to why?
If you said "drugs," then you cheated, but you're also correct. By way of an FBI search warranty, Auernheimer, who goes by the name "Escher" and the hacker handle "Weev," had his home raided earlier this week. It's unclear what prompted the warrant, but during the search, authorities claimed to have found drugs.
Auerner faces four felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor possession charge. According to Lt. Anthony Foster of the Washington County Detention Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the drugs included cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and schedule 2 and 3 pharmaceuticals.
What's interesting about all this is there doesn't seem to be any indication that Auernheimer faces charges for the hacking incident, even though he's believed to be a key member of the Goatse Security group that discovered the security flaw in an AT&T website for iPad users. In a letter sent out last week to iPad owners, AT&T said it would assist in the investigation of any illegal activities related to the security breach.
What do you do if a security screw-up leads to over 114,000 email addresses being exposed, including those registered to politicians, celebrities, military personnel, and other prominent figures? You apologize, of course, and take refuge in your exclusivity contract, if you have one (as AT&T does).
"Recently there was an issue that affected some of our customers with AT&T 3G service for iPad resulting in the release of their customer email addresses," AT&T's Dorothy Attwood stated in an email to its customers. "I am writing to let you know that no other information was exposed and the matter has been resolved. We apologize for the incident and any inconvenience it may have caused. Rest assured, you can continue to use your AT&T 3G service on your iPad with confidence."
In the email, Attwood blamed the incident on malicious hackers who exploited a function designed to make the iPad's log-in process faster by pre-populating an AT&T authentication page with the email address used to register a user's iPad for 3G services.
"AT&T acted quickly to protect your information – and we promise to keep working around the clock to keep your information safe," Attwood continued. "Thank you very much for your understanding, and for being an AT&T customer."
As if those who want to pair Apple's iPad with 3G service have a choice (actually, they do, but it requires jailbreaking, tethering to a smartphone, or using a mobile hotspot device like Verizon's MiFi).
In what's being described as AT&T's worst security breach in recent history, the wireless company went and left sensitive information on 114,067 owners of the iPad 3G exposed on the Web. The subscriber data was obtained by a group calling itself Goatse Security, who then published the personal email addresses of the victims, including military officials, CEOs, prominent politicians, and celebrities.
Users of Google's Postini suite of email security, management ,and archiving services have had to put up with some performance issues as of late, including service disruptions that began Tuesday afternoon and extended into the evening.
According to Google, which acknowledged the problem, "a significant subset of users" were unable to access Postini services, but the problem has since been solved. Mail flow was never affected, Google said, though the Administration Console and Message Center were both inaccessible during the hiccup.
This isn't the first time Postini has been problematic. Performance snags also occurred last Friday when about 10 percent of its users were unable to log into the Admin Console, message Center, and Message Archiving for about 45 minutes. In addition, Google last week announced it was waiving some fees for its App Engine hosted application development before of subpar performance for weeks, InfoWorld reports.
Though Apple's iPad is really the only viable tablet currently on the market, there has been plenty of concern about the security of business apps on the device, and that includes email. That doesn't have to be the case, says IBM, which is offering a free download that lets Lotus Notes customers have secure access to email, calendar, and other other tools on the iPad.
"The iPad is a lot like the iPhone," says Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of messaging and collaboration at IBM. "I think this is a recognition that at least some folks are looking at using the iPad as a convenient business device. Personally, I'm traveling with an iPad and have been using the [Lotus Notes] software as I travel around. It's been working incredibly well."
Called IBM Lotus Notes Traveler, the apps is available now and enables the viewing of encrypted email both the iPad and iPhone. For those interested, you can download the app from here.
It seems that AT&T had to learn the hard way that you simply don't threaten your customers with cease and desist orders for trying to get in contact with the company's CEO via email. In the wake of the media backlash for doing exactly that, Randall Stephenson, the CEO in question, has issued an apology to Giorgio Galante, the subscriber who committed the egregious act of not just sending one email, but TWO emails over the course of two weeks. The nerve!
"We are apologizing to our customer," AT&T said in a statement. "We're working with him today to address his questions and concerns. This is not the way we want to treat customers. From Facebook to significant customer service channels, AT&T strives to provide our customers with easy ways to have their questions addressed. Because of this incident, we are reviewing our entire process to ensure a situation like this does not happen again."
Galante's first email was a request to bump up his iPhone upgrade eligibility and sell him a tethering plan. The following week, Galante send a second email letting the CEO know he wasn't in support of AT&T's new data rates and as a result would be switching to Sprint.
Despite the apology, which Galante says he feels was sincere, he still plans to head over to Sprint and pick up an EVO 4G.
As it turns out, emailing company CEOs is getting to be quite a fad. Apple's Steve jobs has begun responding to emails directly, and that gives regular users hope that they can get some personal attention from those at the helm of companies they do business with. That is apparently not going to fly with AT&T. One customer had the audacity, the AUDACITY, to email AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson twice in two weeks. As a result, AT&T got all lawyer-ish on him.
The customer in question simply asked the company CEO to bump up his iPhone upgrade eligibility and sell him a tethering plan. The second email was to express his displeasure over AT&T's new data plans. All he got was a call back from AT&T's Executive Response Team to "thank" him and warn him that further emails would result in a cease and desist letter. Seriously?
Look, we know that AT&T isn't exactly known for really pleasing their customers, but this seems outlandish to us. If anything, this brash attitude toward customer service makes us think they've got the iPhone locked up for a while yet. This customer, however, is apparently jumping ship to Sprint for the EVO 4G.