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February 13 2014

Humans Account for Less Than 40% of Global Web Traffic

If you own or manage a website, you probably refer to analytics to track performance, and help you strategize. It may surprise you, however, that 61.5% of all web traffic around the world comes from bots — both good and bad.

According to a recent report from Incapsula, a cloud-based application delivery platform, less than 40% of global web traffic comes from humans. In fact, 31% of traffic comes from search engines and other "good bots," while the rest comes from malicious bots.

Created by Statista, the following chart breaks down web traffic by source, including content scrapers, spambots and more. Read more...

More about Spam, Analytics, Bots, Web Traffic, and Tech

January 20 2014

Google Removes 2 Chrome Extensions That Deliver Spam

Google has removed two Chrome extensions that users complained were serving up ads, violating the company's terms of service

The move, reported in The Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica over the weekend, involved the extensions "Add to Feedly" and "Tweet This Page." Users complained that the two prompted ads to appear on any website visited, including Google's famously spare home page

The extensions had a small audience — around 100,000 people, combined — but caused an uproar over the weekend. Google, noting that Add to Feedly and Tweet This Page violated the company's terms of service, has pulled the extensions. Google updated its terms of service in December to require such extensions to have a "single-purpose goal." Read more...

More about Spam, Google Chrome, Business, and Advertising

January 13 2014

Snapchat Apologizes Again, This Time for Spam

Snapchat is getting better at apologizing

Just days after the messaging service finally apologized to users for a massive security breach, Snapchat apologized again, this time for complaints about excessive spam

Hundreds — if not thousands — of users took to Twitter over the weekend to complain about being bombarded with spam chats (or "snaps") following the security breach. More than a few assumed that the breach was the cause ofthe spam, but Snapchat claims that is not the case.

"We’ve heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service," the company wrote in a blog post Monday. "We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue. As far as we know, this is unrelated to the Find Friends issue we experienced over the holidays." Read more...

More about Spam, Business, Apps Software, and Snapchat

November 08 2013

How to Spot a Twitter Spambot

Twitter has spam issue. The social network's "follow anyone" model allows a steady influx of spammers to reach out to many people in a short amount of time, hoping at least one of them will click on a sketchy link.

While a recent glitch preventing users from sending links in direct messages may have been Twitter's latest defense against spam, there's no doubt that it remains a major problem for the platform.

The best way to avoid spam is to follow only people who you know and profiles that have been verified — but we know that that isn't always plausible, so we've made a handy checklist of ways to spot a spambot before you follow them. Read more...

More about Twitter, How To, Social Media, Spam, and Features

October 04 2013

What to Do When You Spam Twitter

Spam — it's annoying, it's potentially dangerous and it's everywhere. Lately, there's been a surge of it on Twitter, clogging up direct message inboxes and feeds

Receiving spam is bad enough, but when you're the one doling it out, it feels even worse. It can cause you to lose followers, infect your friends' accounts or computers and put your own account in danger.

It's important to understand how Twitter spam is generated and what it looks like. The only way your account can generate spam is if it's been hacked. That person or entity then uses your account to send out tweets and DMs with links to spam sites or ads, and those who click may jeopardize their own accounts with hacks or computer malware. Read more...

More about Twitter, Hacking, Security, Social Media, and Spam

September 26 2013

Could Bots and Spam Smother Twitter's IPO?

Twitter is being overwhelmed by spambots that undermine its value to advertisers — and to potential investors in its initial public offering — according to a University of Texas information scientist.

Some 24% of tweets are created by automated bots, according to one study, some of which are spam. Several news media headline feeds are automated (not @bw, though). A handful of bots were programmed to tweet about earthquakes in California. Still others provide useful and weirdly personalized services.

Still, the prevalence of nonpeople is a problem for the business’s revenue model, writes Andrew Whinston, director of the Center for Research in Electronic Commerce at the University of Texas at Austin. Whinston sent a one-page analysis that he co-authored with graduate student Shun-Yang Lee to Bloomberg Businessweek on Tuesday. The short piece isn’t intended for an academic journal. Read more...

More about Twitter, Spam, Bots, Initial Public Offerings, and Business

September 18 2013

Why You Were Added to Twitter Spam Lists

Over the last few days, Twitter spammers have been urging users to find out Louis Tomlinson's phone number, hear a leaked version of One Direction's new album and get a free iPhone.

What's notable is that these spammers weren't sending tweets or direct messages. Instead, they made use of Twitter's list function, adding people to various lists and indirectly pointing thousands of users toward spam sites.

Lists are typically used to organize Twitter users into more distinct groups. You might have separate lists for celebrities, colleagues and friends, which allows you to monitor several different streams at the same time through tools like TweetDeck. A few months back, Twitter increased the number of lists each user can have from 20 to 1,000 and the maximum number of accounts in each list from 500 to 5,000. Read more...

More about Twitter, Spam, Spammers, Twitter Lists, and Twitter Spam

August 10 2013

More Than 70% of Email Is Spam

If you've noticed more spam in your email inbox lately, you aren't alone

A recent study by IT Security company Kaspersky Lab found that more than 70% of email sent in Q2 was actually spam, an increase of more than 4% over Q1 totals. This ratio may seem high, but it's not unheard of; spam totals were actually higher in Q2 last year, about 74% of all emails sent. The study did not define what it considers to be spam, but the United States Department of Justice classifies spam as "unsolicited commercial email."

An increase in spam was not the study's only interesting finding. Malicious email attachments slightly declined, but the they are becoming increasingly harder to spot Read more...

More about Email, Ecards, Spam, Phishing, and Kaspersky Lab

August 05 2013

The Future Will Be Filled With Hot Sex Robots

Your future is pretty unpredictable. Even if you had a fairy friend to tell you what the future held, you can't necessarily be sure of the outcome

In the comic below, John Kovalic of Dork Tower reminds us to not get too excited about any futuristic sex robot technology — it's probably not what you expected


Comic illustration by John Kovalic, Dork Tower. Published with permission; all rights reserved. Read more...

More about Comic, Comics, Spam, Humor, and Dork Tower

August 28 2012

Watch Out for This Sneaky Facebook Scam Disguised as a Photo Notification

The next time Facebook sends you an email about a friend tagging you in a new picture, be cautious -- it could be a trap.

A new strain of malware identified by security firm Sophos as Troj/Agent-XNN has been circulating the social networking site, encouraging members to view photos as an attachment. After clicking on the infected link -- which is disguised as a Facebook notification email -- a ZIP file containing malware allows hackers to gain control over Windows-operated computers.

Although Facebook email notifications typically tell you which friends tagged you in a picture, this malware campaign states "one of your friends added a new photo with you to the album." Here is a lo…
Continue reading...

More About: Facebook, Social Media, hackers, security, spam

August 22 2012

January 28 2012

Before IPO, Facebook Takes the Fight Against Clickjacking to the Courts

Facebook is turning to the courts to fight the “clickjacking” scourge which sometimes plagues the social networking site. The news comes as rumors are circulating that Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO) could be happening as early as this week, with a possible offering of up to $10 billion in shares.

If you’ve ever clicked on a Facebook link only to have that same link get instantly (and seemingly magically) sent out to your entire network of friends without your approval, you have been clickjacked.

Facebook’s finally saying “enough is enough.” It’s accusing Washington-based marketing company Adscend Media of the unwanted spam-causing practice in a lawsuit announced Thursday.

“Security is an arms race,” said Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot said in a post on the site. “And that’s why Facebook is committed to constantly improving our consumer safeguards while pursuing and supporting civil and criminal consequences for bad actors.”

The Attorney General of Washington state filed a separate lawsuit, also accusing Adscend Media of clickjacking.

“We don’t ‘like’ schemes that illegally trick Facebook users into giving up personal information or paying for unwanted subscription services through spam,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna with a nod to one of Facebook’s most well-known features. “We applaud Facebook for devoting significant technical and legal resources to finding and stopping scams as soon as possible, and often before they even start. We’re proud to join forces in order to protect Washington consumers.”

In a clickjacking, users are presented with some kind of enticing material, such as a too-good-to-be-true promotion. The clickjackers add code to these links that hide the “like” button in the link itself. Once a user clicks the clickjacking link, it’s too late — the material’s already been “liked” and shared to the user’s entire social network.

The Washington Attorney General’s Consumer High-Tech Protection unit alleged that Adscend’s clickjacking practices netted the company up to $1.2 millon each month.

Adscend Media denies the claims.

“At no time did we engage in the activity alleged in the complaints,” said the ad company in a statement released Friday.

“Adscend Media will provide a vigorous defense against these false claims. Adscend Media strictly complies with its legal obligations under federal and state law. We are undertaking an investigation to determine whether any of Adscend Media’s affiliates engaged in the activity alleged by the Attorney General’s office and Facebook. If they did, we are fully certain that the activity was conducted without the company’s knowledge.”

Does this lawsuit have anything to do with Facebook’s maybe-soon IPO? Perhaps. After all, too much spam could cause Facebook’s value to drop.

“In the run-up to IPO, we’re sure to see Facebook doing more to present itself as company that is fighting security threats like this,” Internet security firm Sophos told the BBC.

In February of last year, a major clickjacking scam offered free Southwest Airlines tickets to users. Hapless individuals who clicked that link instantly spammed all their friends with the faux-promotion.

According to Facebook, 4% of posts on the social network are spam.

What do you think of Facebook’s efforts to fight against clickjacking? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilbusca

More About: clickjacking, Facebook, spam

January 10 2012

Facebook Spam and Cybercrime on the Rise: How You Can Avoid It [INFOGRAPHIC]

Just how much cybercrime happens on Facebook? About 4 million Facebook users experience spam on a daily basis, 20% of Facebook users have been exposed to malware, and Facebook sees about 600,000 cases of hijacked log-ins every day.

As it stands, there are settings you can change to protect yourself against cybercrime. However, Facebook users aren’t ever totally safe from being scammed and preyed upon as profile information continues to be shared with third parties, malware remains prominent and scammers are still allowed to create fake profiles.

SEE ALSO: 5 URL Expanders to Help You Avoid Spammy Links

Of course, there are a few reminders for staying safe on the world’s largest social network. You can find some of them in the infographic below, by Zone Alarm.

It also shows the breadth of Facebook users around the world. In North America, out of 272 million Internet users, 168 million are surfing the web on Facebook. In Europe, 476 million people are on the Internet and 209 million are on Facebook.

Check the graphic below to see six simple reminders to keep yourself safe on Facebook:

Facebook Safety Infographic by Zone Alarm

Image courtesy of Zone Alarm

More About: cybercrime, Facebook, infographic, malware, safety, Social Media, spam

December 28 2011

New York Times, Not Hackers, Accidentally Spams Its Readers

Regardless of whether you ever subscribed to home delivery of The New York Times, you may have received an email on Wednesday that offered to give you a deal if you re-subscribe.

Although recipients and members of the paper’s staff have suggested that the email was the result of imposters outside of The Times, a spokesperson for the Times said in a statement that it was in fact the result of a simple error.

“An email was sent earlier today from The New York Times in error,” the statement said. “This email should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers, but instead was sent to a vast distribution list made up of people who had previously provided their email address to The New York Times.”

This clashes with a tweet from the New York Times twitter account earlier today, which said, “If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”

Some observant recipients had pointed out that the email header lists as its origin and permitted sender an IP address owned by email marketing firm Epsilon Interactive. Because Hackers stole email addresses from Epsilon back in April, this detail made it seem as though the mass email were a result of a security breach.

At the same time, an internal New York Times email said that the address attached to the special offer, nytimes@email.newyorktimes.com, doesn’t belong to the newspaper, according to the New York Daily News. According to the Times spokesperson, however, the whole debacle was actually the result of an error at The Times.

One Twitter user has reacted to the embarrassing incident with a NYT Spam Twitter account that spouts one-liners such as “Yo, does anyone want, like an iPad? Tooth whitening, maybe?”

In little more than an hour of existence, the account has collected followers who are reporters at The Washington Post, Associated Press, and, yes, The New York Times.

More About: hackers, new york times, spam

For more Business coverage:

July 09 2011

Facebook Scam Pretends to Connect You With Video Calling [WARNING]

Facebook and Skype teamed up to bring you video calling, but at the same time, scammers are teaming up to trick you into spamming all your Facebook friends, using the lure of the new video calling feature. Here’s how to sidestep that scam.

There’s a legitimate way to sign up for Facebook Video Calling, where you’re asked to download a program from here, and then the chat window asks you to configure a few Flash settings.

That looks like the graphic below. While the service is working for some lucky users, as you can see, when I tried it a few minutes ago, it wasn’t working yet for me, notifying me that “video calling will be available soon, please check back later.”

However, the scam comes to you in the form of a wall post, enticing you to “Enable video calls.” Don’t click that link, advises Naked Security, which supplied the graphic below:

If you do click on that bogus message, it asks for access to your basic information, wants to post to your wall, to access your posts in your newsfeed and access your data at any time.

What does it do then? It doesn’t let you video chat at all, but simply tries to get you to fill out surveys so its evil creators can collect referral fees. Worse, it exposes your friends to the same trick.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s Announcements | Facebook Video Chat | Facebook Skype Chat Video | Facebook Group Chat

Don’t click those fake links. If you want the actual Facebook Video Calling, it’s available now for some users but not others, and you haven’t already been granted access, you will be soon.

Image courtesy Naked Security

More About: Facebook Video Calling, scams, spam, video chat, warning

For more Social Media coverage:

July 04 2011

Spam Decreased 82.22% Over The Past Year

We have some great news for you: There was a whole lot less spam sent today than there was a year ago. A look at the graphic above puts it in visual terms for you, illustrating how there were more than 225 billion spam emails sent per day in July, 2010, and in June, 2011, that number has dropped to approximately 40 billion. That’s an 82.22% decrease in spam over a year.

What heroes relieved us of much of this scourge? Security journalist and former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs attributes some of the credit to cops and security experts with a lot of help from Internet service providers. The graph (provided by Symantec Intelligence) shows significant drops in spam levels occurred when investigators coordinated their efforts and brought down numerous major spam networks such as “Rustock,” said to be responsible for 40% of all junk email.

That was the good news. Now here’s the bad news: In the place of all those spam networks, there’s a new superbug emerging called TDL-4, and it’s smart enough to remove all the other malware from PCs as it takes over, replacing dozens of viruses with itself. It’s said to have already infected 4.5 million PCs, and according to Krebs, “it uses a custom encryption scheme that makes it difficult for security experts to analyze.”

What’s being done to stop this? In addition to their concerted efforts to stop the spammers, the good guys are following the money. Spammers are stealing hoards of money with click fraud, scareware and credential theft, so law enforcement agencies are going after the financial institutions that are handling the cash for these criminals. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, we’ll stick with using Gmail, which uses crowdsourcing to do a highly effective job of filtering out spam. As a result, I haven’t seen a piece of email spam in months. While there are many other ways to encounter those creepy crawlies, using Gmail is the least we can do to protect ourselves.

What do you do to protect yourself from spam and malware?

More About: Brian Krebs, spam, Symantec, TDL-4, virus

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

May 06 2011

Spam Your Mom This Mother’s Day

It’s basically universally acknowledged: Moms are the biggest spammers out there. From chain letters, to animal videos, to police reports from your local paper, most of us get an inbox attack via Mommy Dearest at least once a day.

If you’re among those mentioned above (to be fair, my Mom sends me awesome articles about David Bowie and old bookstores, so I shouldn’t complain), you should probably check out Mom Spam. It’s basically a website that lets you choose what kind of spam you want to send Ma, and then take aim and fire.

Check out the video above for more info, and let us know how your mom likes those pics of cats taking baths. (They just really hate the water!)

h/t Jessica Amason

Image courtesy of Flickr, Loozrboy

More About: email, humor, mothers day, pop culture, social media, spam, video

For more Social Media coverage:

April 28 2011

Lady Gaga Falls Prey to Rogue Twitter Attack

Beware of any messages and links advertising a so-called “banned” Lady Gaga video spreading across Twitter. The messages are part of a rogue application attack that has quickly spread across the network in the past 24 hours, tricking thousands — if not millions — of users, including Lady Gaga herself.

The vector for the attack is similar to methods frequently used on Facebook. Users follow a link purportedly to a shocking video and upon clicking the “play” button are asked to give an application access to their account. Upon doing this, the rogue application then sends spam messages with the false video link to all of the user’s friends or followers.

In the case of this particular attack, the text of the tweets most frequently contains some variation of:

VIDEO PROHIBIDO LADY GAGA banned [LINK] @Shakira @ladygaga como ganar dinero facil

Clicking on the link takes the user to a fake YouTube page, where clicking the play button asks the user to approve a Twitter application.

What makes this particular attack more interesting — and potentially more dangerous — is that Lady Gaga (or her Twitter handlers) appears to have been taken in by the scam herself. As Sophos’s Graham Cluley points out, Gaga tweeted this message to her nearly 10 million Twitter followers Wednesday:

The offending tweets were deleted from Lady Gaga’s Twitter account. However, Cluley was able to surface cached archives of the tweets, which included the same style of text and offending bit.ly links to the rogue application.

If you did give the rogue application access to your account, here’s what to do to clean up the mess.

  • Go to the Settings section in your Twitter account and click on the “Connections” tab.
  • Revoke access to the rogue application; chances are it will be the first in the list.
  • For the super paranoid, change the password on your Twitter account, as well as any other accounts that use that same password.

It’s easy to fall prey to these types of rogue application attacks — on both Twitter and Facebook. Remember, when in doubt, just say no to granting access. A YouTube page should never require access to a third-party network for playback.

More About: Lady Gaga, security, spam, twitter, twitter attacks

For more Social Media coverage:

March 28 2011

March 09 2011

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