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My War On ATM Spam and Other Annoyances

By Jeremy Wagstaff (This is a copy of my weekly syndicated column) You really don’t need to thank me, but I think you should know that for the past 10 years I’ve been fighting a lonely battle on your behalf. I’ve been taking on mighty corporations to rid the world of spam. Not the spam you’re familiar with. Email spam is still around, it’s just not in your inbox, for the most part. Filters do a great job of keeping it out. I’m talking about more serious things, like eye spam, cabin spam, hand spam,  counter spam and now, my most recent campaign, ATM spam.Continue readingMy War On ATM Spam and Other Annoyances

Social Engineering, Part XIV

Further to my earlier piece about the scamming potential of Web 2.0, here are a couple more examples of why social engineering is a bigger problem than it might appear. First off, governments and organisations are not as careful with your information as you might expect them to. There are plenty of examples of CD-ROMs and laptops going missing, but often even that doesn’t need to happen. Some governments openly publish such information on the Internet. Indonesia’s minsitry of education, for example, has published the names, addresses, age, date of birth, school and education number of 36 million Indonesian students in easily downloadable XLS format.Continue readingSocial Engineering, Part XIV

Social Networks Aren’t Social

Social networks are not really social—they’re informational. While they may appear to be social, and perhaps we flock to them and participate in them because we feel a need to socially connect, the real currency is information. Whereas we might go to a bar, a cocktail party or a dinner and spend 90% of our time talking about things that are not important to us, just to maintain and keep alive that social ‘space’, and 10% exchanging really usable and useful information, online the percentages are probably inverted. Looking at my Facebook inbox, the last 10 exchanges have been about arranging to meet a professionalContinue readingSocial Networks Aren’t Social

Books. The New Google Juice?

Increasingly I find that if I enter a search on Google for something that I need explaining to me, the first result is a book. Of course, the book is in Google’s Book Search, but chances are the search is in a page that has been scanned and is available without having to buy the book. What I’m not clear about are the implications of this. (The above example is from me finding myself watching a UK quiz show from 2001 on the BBC’s Entertainment Channel, which I noticed is free this month on our local cable network. As a long-term expat I find theseContinue readingBooks. The New Google Juice?

Banks Cross Borders, But Their Service Doesn’t

Banks always talk about being global, and thinking local, and all that tosh. And it is tosh. Really. My bank just called me, for example, to congratulate me for linking my bank accounts in different parts of the world so I can see them from one website. Great idea, weird it hasn’t been possible until now. But I couldn’t help smiling to myself at its limits. The conversation went like this: “Mr Wagstaff Jeremy Rupert John (they seem to call me this, I guess it sounds better), do you have any questions or feedback for us on our service?” “Well, I found I couldn’t rememberContinue readingBanks Cross Borders, But Their Service Doesn’t

Hi, I’m Sheila from Phishers ‘R’ Us

It amuses me that banks talk about security but rarely apply it in a consistent enough way to save people like you and me from getting scammed. Take what just happened to me this morning: My bank rings me up (the number is a private number so doesn’t show up on my screen, but that doesn’t seem to be unusual anymore; nearly half of the people who call me seem to withhold their number these days. In any case, it’s not hard to fake a callerID.) The woman on the phone tells me there’s been a problem with my last phonebanking transaction. Before she canContinue readingHi, I’m Sheila from Phishers ‘R’ Us

Thaksin Needs Your Help

For those of you who thought the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was living it up in Europe buying soccer teams, you’re wrong. He’s having serious financial problems and needs your help, according to this email I just received in his name: Good day. This may appear a bit surprising to you but very sensitive; as a matter of urgency, I am desperately looking for a foreign partner whom I can trust to handle some investment or fund movement under is control for security reasons. I am Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, Former Thailand Prime Minister, I went on exile for some months over allege assassinationContinue readingThaksin Needs Your Help

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