Let's cut right to the chase -- according to security firm Panda Security, the infamous Nigerian scam ranks as the decade's most popular online ploy to swindle victims.
"This was the first type of scam to appear on the Internet and continues to be widely used by cybercriminals today," Panda Security says.
Coming in second are lottery-based scams, in which potential victims receive an email claiming that they won the lottery. The ones that fall for it end up sending out something like $1,000 to supposedly cover bank related fees and other expenses in order to transfer the winnings, only the victim never sees a dime.
"As with all the classic scams that predate the Internet, many of the numerous users that fall for these tricks and lose their money are reticent to report the crime," says Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Labs. "If recovering the stolen money was difficult in the old days, it is even harder now because criminals' tracks are often lost across the Web. The best defense is to learn how to identify these scams an avoid taking the bait."
Twitter sent out an email on Wednesday announcing a couple of upcoming updates, one of which includes automatic t.co link wrapping. In the coming weeks, Twitter's link wrapping service will intercept all URLs posted on the microblogging service and convert them into shorter, easier to read URLs. So what exactly has privacy mavens up in arms? This little tidbit:
"When you click on a wrapped link, your request will pass through the Twitter service to check if the destination site is known to contain malware, and we will then forward you on to the destination URL ... When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click. We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time," the microblogging site said.
Even so, this will come as little consolation to privacy advocates who view this move as a "disgusting data landgrab."
The social networking superstar known as Facebook is taking its business offline and into brick and mortar stores by selling gift cards at Target locations, Reuters reports.
These will come in increments of $15, $25, and $50 and can be used to purchase virtual products for games hosted on the site, which pretty much ensures Zynga will be around for a long, long time.
This could also mean more scams in the making. Beware of upcoming gift card offers that aren't directly affiliated with Facebook or Target. Back in April, The Consumerist reported a fake IKEA gift card scam that was able to attract over 37,000 Facebook users.
One of the world's largest botnets responsible for as much as 10 percent of all spam suffered a temporary setback this week when several ISPs took action by unplugging infected servers, according to security firm M86 Security.
Known as the Pushdo or Cutwail network, this top 5 botnet specialized in sending out spam for fake AV software, designer goods, and pharmaceutical products, said Ed Rowley, product manager for M86 Security. But for the next couple of weeks, you can expect less of these emails in your inbox.
Security experts with the security company LastLine took it upon themselves to start contacting ISPs found to be hosting the command-and-control infrastructure of the botnet. All told, there were about 30 servers at 8 different ISPs keeping the botnet alive, 20 of which have since been taken offline.
According to Rowley, LastLine's efforts "will almost certainly have a positive effect for two to three weeks," but "the spammers will be able to find other hosting providers where they will be able to get their systems up and running."
Maybe sooner. Leaving at least 10 servers online is a major concern, as Pushdo is capable of generating random domain names, which can then be registered and activated.
Good news comes from Verizon for its DSL subscribers today. The ISP is introducing 10-15Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream service to more than 4 million homes and small businesses, more than doubling its previous top tier High Speed Internet service of 4-7Mpbs.
"Consumers and small businesses everywhere have a need for speed," said Shawn Strickland, Verizon's vice president of consumer strategy. "With our new 10-15Mbps speed tier, downloading files, photos, and other content will be faster, plus our High Speed Internet customers will have peace of mind because our service is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee."
In terms of downstream speed, that's as fast as Verizon's entry-level FiOS service, which offers 15Mbps down and 5Mbps up. It's also priced the same at $50/month for residential customers, which also includes voice service (or $60 for those without voice service). Pricing for small businesses starts at $90/month with a two-year service contract, or $100/month sans contract.
Ticketmaster started up a new blog this week and wasted no time getting down to business, jumping straight into the discussion about everyone's least favorite part of ordering tickets online: service fees.
"We get it -- you don't like service fees," the blog begins. "You don't like them mostly because you don't understand what the heck they are for. We'll try to do a better job in this space over the coming months of helping you understand our business, and how our fees compare to others in the industry (both in ticketing and ecommerce in general). But the reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price."
Ticketmaster went on to candidly acknowledge that the way these fees are presented in the check out process "is a huge frustration," which ultimately hurts ticket sales. To address this issue, the online ticket vendor said it will start listing actual ticket prices rather than tacking on service fees at the end of the ordering process.
"Over the next few days we are rolling out a new way of presenting pricing and fees on Ticketmaster.com," Ticketmaster explains. "Going forward, just like almost every other business in the world, we'll tell you up front how much you can expect to pay for a certain ticket. We'll still break out the 'face value' from the other fees where required, and we haven't broken down per-order fees yet (although you will begin to see many of our clients move to truly all-in pricing, because they know it sells more tickets and makes you happier). This user experience mirrors what you see across the Web from leaders in their field -- Amazon, Apple, Expedia, Zappos, and more."
Ticketmaster also talked up a new return policy in which anyone who buys a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation now has three days to return it, up until one week before the show.
Does Ticketmaster's upfront pricing model make the service fees a little easier to swallow, or does it not really matter? Hit the jump and sound off!
We're not entirely sure we needed a study to tell us that Internet access leads to romantic hook-ups -- scratch that, we're positive a study wasn't needed -- but a professor at Stanford University went ahead and put in the necessary research, anyway.
"Although prior research on the social impacts of Internet use has been rather ambiguous about the social cost of time spent online, our research suggests that Internet access has an important role to play in helping Americans find mates," said Michael J. Rosenfield, an associate professor of sociology at Standford University and the lead author of the study, "Meeting Online, The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary."
While the premise might not surprise anyone, maybe the actual numbers will. According to Rosenfield and his research team, some 82.2 percent of participants who had Internet access at home also had a spouse or romantic partner. By comparison, the partnership rate for those without online access at home was 62.8 percent.
"With the meteoric rise of the Internet as a way couples have met in the past few years, and the concomitant recent decline in the central role of friends, it is possible that in the next several years the Internet could eclipse friends as the most influential way Americans meet their romantic partners, displacing friends out of the top position for the first time since the early 1940s," Rosenfeld said.
You know that Facebook 'like' button you're seeing everywhere? Well, Twitter is about to follow suit by releasing an official Tweet Button for sharing content you find online. Leaked documents suggest the button could start showing up as soon as Thursday. The button is available in three sizes, with five different display customizations. This single line of code can be added to any page, allowing users to share it over Twitter easily. The button will also be a way to track how many people are retweeting a page.
Tweetmeme is the company currently running most of the twitter button embeds you currently see around. This move from Twitter certainly threatens their business model. That's nothing new for Twitter though. Be it URL shorteners, mobile clients, or buttons, Twitter might make an official option at any time.
Market research firm comScore has released a new report outlining how women are shaping the Internet, and yes folks, that includes gaming.
"Women's high engagement with Games and Online Gaming sites may come as a bit of a surprise," comScore writes. "However, this is indicative of the evolution of the gaming landscape, which has given rise to casual gaming -- an activity that is very popular among women. Women are much more likely to play casual games (i.e. Solitaire, Sudoku, and Scrabble) than action, adventure, and sports games, which are typically favored by young males."
According to comScore, female gamers age 55 and over spend the most time playing games online of any demographic, and other than the 15-24 age bracket, women outpaced men every time.
Casual gaming isn't the only online activity women are drawn towards. Females outpace males in social networking, instant messaging, and emailing. And would you have guessed that women are nearly as likely as men to visit gambling sites? It's true, says comScore, which also points out that over one-third of women visit sex-themed sites, compared to nearly half of all men.
Do we need another gaming service? If OnLive succeeds the way its developers hope, it could be the only service you’ll ever use again. After sampling OnLive over several weeks, we believe in the technology—but we’re not at all sold on the licensing model.
Instead of downloading entire games—a la Steam—or buying discs from an e-tailer or brick-and-mortar store, OnLive streams games instantly. On the upside, the service boasts astonishingly low client-side hardware requirements, because OnLive’s servers execute the game code and stream 1280x720-resolution video to your PC (or Mac). Your computer sends packets containing your in-game actions back up the pipe to OnLive. All you need is a dual-core CPU. We’re talking any dual-core—even Intel’s Atom 330 will do the trick. You don’t need discrete graphics, either.