How To Get A Good Idea Part II

Nowadays I get three days in the office to do part of my job, editing The Asian Wall Street Journal’s print edition of the Personal Journal (great piece in tomorrow’s edition, by the way, on South Korean female blogging by Lina Yoon (I noticed the Sydney Morning Herald also did something on this earlier this month, as observed by Smartmobs’ Jim Downing).)

Anyway, three days in the office, two days doing my column. I’m not an office guy. No great idea ever occurred to me in the office. No great idea ever really occurred to me period, but especially not in the office. For me you’ve got to be outside. You’ve got to walk around, you’ve got to see things, you’ve got to talk to fresh people, observe weirdos doing their thing, be somewhere you can think. But it’s interesting how divided my colleagues are on this. They like to work late, but not take anything home with them. Others are like me, they look like they’re strangers in a cubicle, camping out until there’s a decent opportunity to flee. Others look like they live there. I find the office good for hammering things out, but mine isn’t really a hammering-things-out type job, so maybe it’s all about the kind of job you’re doing. There’s hammering, and there’s getting ideas.

Anyway, roundabout way of saying you can tell what day it is by the number of off-the-wall posts Loose Wire gets. If there are too many, it’s probably Thursday or Friday.

Phishy Behaviour Down Under

I don’t really need to introduce this piece from Sam Varghese of the Sydney Morning Herald. It touches on a theme I’ve harped on before: How banks still don’t understand phishing and how it has changed consumer attitudes, and how it must change the way banks approach the Internet.

Phishy behaviour or harmless spin points to emails sent out by Westpac banks, which contain “four links, none of which goes to a secure link, nor to the main Westpac site.

Asked why the bank still sent emails despite the prevalence of online scams, a Westpac spokesman said the bank thought it was a “good idea.””

Beware Evaman

The Sydney Morning Herald is warning of a new Doomsday with ”a new internet virus is expected to clog mail servers, cause severe slowdown and wreak financial damage as it spreads rapidly around the world when businesses return to work today”.

It is a mass-mailer worm called Evaman, and Symantec is likening it to MyDoom, using a false email address to generate messages with an attachment that carries the virus. By opening the attachment, recipients “unleash the virus onto their computer, where it automatically starts sending out dozens of new messages”.

As with an increasing number of these viruses, the worry is that the infection rate will be worsened because of the weekend factor: Tim Hartman, senior technical director at the security firm Symantec, “estimated the virus would spread at an uncontrollable rate as people returned to work”. He’s quoted as saying: “There’s so many unprotected machines out there that the likelihood that this will spread significantly is quite high. We have to wait until everyone gets back to work from their weekend around the world.”

What’s not quite clear to me is how exactly this works, and for what purpose. Symantec says the worm “generates random queries to email.people.yahoo.com (an email search engine), and collects email addresses from the search results”. It then sends copies of itself to the addresses that it finds with a spoofed From address”. But why?

I can only assume it is trying to verify email addresses in bulk. If so, it’s proof, if it were needed, that spamming and virus writing is all pretty much the same business these days.