Spam senders aren't just a slimy bunch, they're apparently a busy bunch, too. So much so that spam now accounts for 92 percent of all email messages, according to a new study by Symantec. Let that sink in for a moment. Less than one out of every 10 messages you receive is legit.
That's up from last year when spam accounted for 89 percent of all email. At this rate, in a little over two years, only about 1 percent of all email will be legit.
Spam isn't just annoying, it also poses a security threat. These messages often contain links to malicious downloads and URLs, and according to Symantec, a new type of attack that spoofs an e-commerce site's "live chat" feature is making the rounds.
"The phishing site involved bogus chat sessions to help the page look more authentic, trying to give cutomers the impression that the phishing website was interactive," Symantec said.
Looking for a sliver lining? You won't find much of one, though Symantec did say that the amount of spam containing a phishing attack decreased by 5 percent from June to July of this year.
Who said the Internet is for porn? According to a recent study conducted by the Nielsen Company, nowadays the Internet is predominately used for two things: social networking and gaming.
Unsurprisingly, a whopping 22.7 percent of online time is spent on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, which actually sounds like a bit of a conservative estimate to us, seeing as the magic of cell phone technology means that – for us, at least – Facebook is always only one five-second stretch of boredom away.
Online games, meanwhile, snagged a silver medal in the time-devouring contest with 10.2 percent, catapulting them ahead of email's 8.3 percent.
Interesting stuff, huh? What we're wondering, though, is how long it'll be before all our web activities are rolled into one writhing, Katamari-like conglomerate. After all, tools like Facebook are already replacing email, and games like Farmville encourage you to bug your buddies until they embark on an addiction-based journey of equal parts self-loathing and rural discovery, all so you can have your crops fertilized one time. It's a big loop. Games are becoming more social, and social networks are becoming more game-like. Meanwhile, everything else that Nielsen listed – instant messaging, email, videos, etc. – is getting gobbled up by social media's giant, unhinged jaw.
And that's just the present. It's all at once exciting and utterly terrifying to imagine what our media-centric, almost-disturbingly interconnected future holds if things continue at their current pace. Or, you know, you could just read Snow Crash.
Google pulled off a coup last year when it was awarded a contract worth $7.25 million by the City of Los Angeles to move 30,000 employees to its cloud-based email solution. It was a huge triumph not only because CSC’s (Computer Sciences Corporation) proposal for Google Apps – both companies have joined forces for this project – was picked from 15 proposals but also due to the fact that Microsoft was among those snubbed. This was seen as an alarming development for Microsoft’s popular Office productivity suite.
Google and CSC’s victory celebrations are long over and the June 30 deadline history, but so far only 10,000 city employees have been moved to Google apps while the rest, including 13,000 L.A.P.D members, are still stuck with a traditional email solution provided by Novell. The delay stems from the security concerns raised by the Los Angeles Police Department, which is particularly worried about data encryption.
"We've had a lot of technical issues, some we've created and some we haven't," said Los Angeles CTO Randi Levin. "We underestimated the amount of time it was going to take." According to a MarketWatch report, the two companies have agreed to compensate the city for all costs it incurs during the course of the delay.
Windows Live Essentials 2011, now available in a public beta, is the local client component of Microsoft Windows Live, a collection of programs and web services. WLE 2011’s components include photo editing and organization (WL Photo Gallery), video editing (WL Movie Maker), email and calendar (WL Mail), instant messaging and social media (WL Messenger), blogging (WL Writer), cross-platform file synchronization and Windows remote access (WL Sync), and web and IM filtering (WL Family Safety). Before the public beta was released in late June, Windows Live Essentials 2011 was known as Windows Live Essentials Wave 4. In this article, you’ll learn what new and improved features the latest WLE wave brings with it.
Adding insult to injury, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) inadvertently shared potentially thousands of emails from gamers who wrote to complain about Blizzard's short lived policy of requiring its forum members use their real names. Oops!
Yesterday we sent an e-mail to a number of consumers who wrote to us in recent days expressing their concern with respect to Blizzard's Real ID program. Given the large number of messages we received, we decided to respond with a mass e-mail so those who'd written us would receive our response as quickly as possible - rather than responding to each message individually, as is our usual practice.
Through an unfortunate error by one of our employees, some recipients were able to see the e-mail addresses of others who wrote on the same issue. Needless to say, it was never our intention to reveal this information and for that we are genuinely sorry. Those who write to ESRB to express their views expect and deserve to have their contact and personal information protected. In this case, we failed to do so and are doing everything we can to ensure it will not happen again in the future.
The fact that our message addressed individuals' concerns with respect to their privacy underscores how truly disappointing a mistake this was on our part. We work with companies to ensure they are handling people's private information with confidentiality, care and respect. It is only right that we set a good example and do no less ourselves.
We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by this error and appreciate their understanding.
Every now and then, I'm reminded of the Internet's power to really screw things up.
As I go about my normal day as a technology journalist, half of the stories I catch across the wire are usually something related to the unfolding social landscape of the Web 2.0. Google's catching Facebook; Facebook's catching Google; Someone is making a new way to interact with Twitter (oh joy!) I find this relatively disinteresting, save for the fact that each new announcement heralds in just one more way by which every action in our lives is transforming into an accessible, traceable record for all to see.
One of my friends unfortunately learned this lesson a little too well this past week. It cost him a pretty solid gig at the ol' Washington Post, and now has me forever wondering if my "Apple Rules, Woo" comments throughout Maximum PC's various articles might, too, have gone a step too far...
But I don't blame me; I blame our growing culture of online social oversharing. And with new products and linked networks coming in on a near-weekly basis, at what point do we stand up and wrest our digital lives back from everyone else's radars? Is it already too late?
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.