The Weekly HELO – March 7th

This week: secret meetings, secret tapes, secrets of the Great Firewall, and secrets stolen right out of your pockets.

Welcome to the fifth 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.

Sorry for missing last week, but I’m back from MAAWG and ready to get back to the news.

Let’s Take Over the World

We discussed the AOL/HuffPo acquisition last month, and there have been a few interesting articles that have focused on what that means. One source is declaring it just the next step toward World Domination! We know that it’s unheard of when Companies and Executives have ‘secret’ meetings…the horror!

I wonder if Tim and Arianna discussed how to keep charging for dial-up? “The company still gets eighty percent of its profits from subscribers, many of whom are older people who have cable or DSL service but don’t realize that they need not pay an additional twenty-five dollars a month to get online and check their e-mail. “The dirty little secret,” a former AOL executive says, “is that seventy-five percent of the people who subscribe to AOL’s dial-up service don’t need it.”

I’m sure Arianna did mention it, since HuffPo did break this story back in January.

Some Things Never Go Out of Style

Most of you probably read about the Google bug that caused several thousand Gmail accounts to disappear. Google reacted very quickly and was able to get many of those accounts back within moments of the issue. I’m sure you, like many, wonder “how is this even possible, and how did they recover these accounts so quickly?” CNN posted a good response to those burning questions, explaining that “Google says it lost the e-mails because of a glitch in a software update that it was in the process of installing across its computer servers.”

The really interesting part is that Google backs up everything on tape. Yes, that’s correct, tape. According to Google, tape has an advantage: “Since the tapes are offline, they’re protected from such software bugs. But restoring data from them also takes longer than transferring your requests to another data center, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the e-mail back instead of milliseconds.”

Good thing I’m still holding on to those bootleg cassettes, they may come in handy in the future.

The Great Firewall of China

The most recent casualty of the Great Firewall of China is LinkedIn, joining a growing list of sites that China has tried to keep from their people. In November China blocked access to WikiLeaks, and last year we saw Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook blocked soon after the riots in Xinjiang.

The other interesting fact is China has now fallen behind Spain as a source of spam. “Once the largest source of the world’s spam, China has been gradually fading off the list of the world’s top spam-producers. Right now Cisco Systems’ IronPort group ranks it at number 18 in terms of spam-producing countries. That’s a big drop from two years ago, when it consistently ranked in the top five.”

I guess blocking inbound is helping them block outbound? Or maybe they finished implementing MAAWG’s advice already? China is a mystery for sure.

Smart Phones are Easy

Hackers are now targeting smart phones as a way to spread malware. “As smart phones and tablet computers have grown in popularity with consumers they offer cyber criminals an opportunity to make a big impact with a small effort.”

More and more people have a smart phone, and the portable tablets are growing in numbers. We love the apps that are offered. That seems to be the opening for these hackers, to trick people into downloading apps that trick people into giving their bank information, or even giving the spammer the ability to spy on calls and text messages. Word of advice: make sure to do some thorough research on any app — not only reading the reviews in the store, but also do a web search to see if anyone has put up a red flag.

See you again next week.

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