Engineer internet spam

Spam 2.0

I don’t know about you but I have started getting spam through Facebook. So far it isn’t the classical type of spam selling viagra etc.  I have however been getting friend requests from attractive young ladies with exotic names. 

I also seem to be inundated with notifications of rubbish that I have no interest in checking out.

I was discussing this with Dave Ward, one of our Tech Consultants, who mentioned that Fortinet have now brought out Spam2.0 filters for their firewalls.  Social Networking sites have started having their vulnerabilities exploited. 

People are getting spammed with direct messages, apparently from friends.  Facebook chat, for example, is one way used to insert worms onto someone’s PC and thence onto your network.

Fortinet has an application that allows companies to let employees access Facebook whilst blocking access to applications such as chat known to be vunerable.  Screenshot below. You might need to click a couple of times on the picture to get it to a viewable size/quality.  Also check out the recent Wikipedia article on Social Networking Spam.


PS Don’t get me wrong here.  I am a happily married man and whilst I’m sure I quite like being chatted up by nice young ladies one has to ask why complete strangers, whose interests seem to be dating and meeting members of the opposite sex, would want to approach me…

End User fun stuff

Encarta – the passing of an era

Microsoft is closing down Encarta, its paid-for online encyclopedia.  It now holds such a small market share, 1.27% according to The Register,  that it is no longer viable.

I imagine few tears will be shed.  It is worth noting though that this really does represent the passing of an era.  Not “the Encarta era” but the era represented by the likes of Encycopedia Brittanica of which Encarta was just one of the last in the line.

In its time Encarta represented a big change in the market.  Up until then Encyclopedia Brittanica was sold mostly by door to door salesmen and came in around 30 large bound volumes.  As a kid I would have loved to have had a set but it was also impractically expensive for my parents.  I imagine that salesman only needed one sale to live off for a week. 

The word encyclopedia will probably now disappear into the history books having been replaced by wikipedia.

End User social networking

Friday the 13th February 2009 – an unique time in history

Unix Time reaches a milestone in history next week as it hits 1,234,567,890. For those millions of readers of this blog who don’t know what I am talking about (ie most of them I’m sure) Unix Time started at midnight on January 1st 1970 and represents the number of seconds since then.

Unix Time is a way of storing time information on a computer. It isn’t without its issues. For example back in 1970 the boffins chose 32bits as a size of number to represent Unix time in machine code. Unfortunately this means that Unix Time hits the ceiling, ie runs out, in 2038.

This could well lead to another bout of hysteria akin to Y2K with many Unix computers expected to run into problems.

Anyway the point of this blog post is not to worry you too much about what will happen 29 years hence but to celebrate the number. Party animals can join in the fun at the Event on Facebook . Pseudo geeks amongst us can read more here.  Real geeks will already know all they need to know. 

I was originally going to post this on Friday 13th but I figured some of you would want to know in advance.

Business internet

IWF Wikipedia Update

The IWF has reversed its position on the wikipedia article reported yesterday. Its statement can be found here. It’s best you read the statement than I replicate it here.

Business internet

IWF Blocking Access To Wikipedia Article

There’s been a lot in the news over the weekend regarding IWF blocking access to an article  Wikipedia. I recently covered the IWF in this blog. Now it has hit the heights of the news this morning on BBC Radio 4.

The IWF provides blacklists to ISPs of www links that they consider to have child pornography content and this is what it has done in this case with Wikipedia (link to Wikipedia article here).

Consumer ISPs block these links by using proxy servers as filters. However in doing so they are channelling all traffic to Wikipedia through a small number of IP addresses. This in turn causes problems for users of Wikipedia because the website occasionally blocks the ip addresses of abusive users to prevent them from editing articles. Because all users are seen as coming from the same IP addresses Wikipedia can’t distinguish between good and bad and this has the knock on effect of blocking many genuine editors.  Around 25% of all English language articles are said to be edited by UK based users.

According to Wikipedia ranks as world’s the 8th most visited website. The IWF statement on the issue can be found here. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem which is very much part of an ongoing debate regarding censorship on the internet.