The Weekly HELO – February 7th

Is the internet the 11th Plague or the Great Democratizer — or are those the same thing? Also: ARIN whoIS improved, Google traps Bing, spam goes bung, and stealing Zynga’s chips.

Welcome to the second edition of Return Path’s new feature, The Weekly HELO! Each week, Melinda Plemel synopsizes some of the most interesting current happenings in email technology and messaging abuse.

Close Your Eyes by joshwept on Flickr

Some restrictions apply, void were prohibited.

Like most of the world, I’ve been watching the events in Egypt unfold. One piece that was the most interesting for me was the shutdown of the internet. Shutting down communication to the outside world was the first reaction by the government so the world couldn’t watch the events unfold. But there are definite ramifications of this happening — once the internet shut down, all hell broke loose. Not only did it create a much higher level of angry, but it also has an economic impact. And the news got out anyway.

“For Egypt, according to a top Western think tank, they believe Mubarak’s rash actions against his country’s anti-government protests will cost Egypt a minimum of $90 million.” –InventorSpot

“By cutting off the Internet, the Egyptian government caused grave damage to the Egyptian economy.” –eWeek

China is another country that has tried from time to time to ban the outside world from influencing their people. We all read and know about China’s various attempts to ban or censor Google, but they are now targeting Skype too.

The internet and social media have changed the world — it’s made events that are happening thousands of miles away very real to every home. Knowing that the internet is a powerful tool for people “wanting to world to see”, it definitely has me thinking if it’s possible in other parts of the world, could it be possible in the U.S.? I must not be the only one wondering, since there are quite a few articles that have recently touched on the subject — including this from CNN.

Seems that it might be unlikely that there’ll be a “kill switch” in the United States, for both technical and political reasons — but the discussion continues.

In the meantime, there seem to be some lessons we can learn from this and if you are an IT professional it might be a good time to take note and make sure your systems are prepared for regional network outages.

All of this makes me feel better.

Staying one step ahead

Our partner and good friend Udeme Ukutt, postmaster at Synacor, recently wrote an article about new enhancements with ARIN’s whoIS-RWS service.

According to Udeme’s insight, a couple enhancements have been implemented:

1. Search by CIDR matching

2. Search by IP addresses, organizations, ASNs

This should make investigators’ lives much easier.

World Domination

It seems that Google is playing the iSpy with Bing…well, Bing doesn’t know that they are playing, but according to this article in tech.blorge Google has suspected that Bing has been coping their search results, so they set a trap, and they caught Bing in the act. Words to live by: if you say you’re not doing something, make sure the memo goes out to everyone that you really shouldn’t be doing it.

Spam Does Kill

We’ve all heard how mobile spam is exploding, but this mobile spam message literally exploded.

“The incident raises some interesting questions,” writes AllSpammedUp. “How can a simple text message be used to set off a bomb and how can cell phone makers and providers block such functionality? Could spam messages actually prove useful in thwarting attacks?”

I guess this is the only time some people appreciated spam being sent — though still not the recipient.

Ocean’s Online, all the chips are down.

Online games — and particularly Facebook games — are huge. I personally haven’t gotten into some of the social games that are out there, but I do know how serious these folks take their Farms.

Well one British gentleman just wasn’t winning enough at the table, so he decided to steal poker chips from Zynga.

Sophos’ Naked Security tells us “29-year-old Ashley Mitchell, from Paignton, Devon, admitted hacking into Zynga Poker’s servers and transferring the online poker chips to fake Facebook accounts he had created. The chips were then sold to other online gamblers, for a discounted price.”

I’m sure the Motorcycle Bandit is a bit disappointed he went old school getting his chips.

Image by joshwept on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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