Sunday, July 23, 2006

The New News Medium

As I (along with most of the world I suspect) sit transfixed on events unfolding in the Middle East and the probable certainity that Israel will enter Lebanon again, a new trend in news and current affairs journalism is becoming very apparent. Time and again during news and feature bulletins, news networks are emphasising "for the latest log on to our website at.....". I typically watch BBC and CNN the most and both constantly refer viewers to their website for further and updated information. Indeed the Internet is fast becoming the "New News Medium". By this I mean the recognition by major news organisations, such as BBC and CNN, that to deliver content, the Internet is now perhaps (increasingly) the more appropriate and shall I say "more flexible" medium. With broadband availability and uptake on the increase, bandwidth to deliver such content to the user is less of an issue. Recently I had a look at CNN's Pipeline feature which provides up to 4 live video streams and I must say its quite impressive. It is not free though (currently USD 2.95/month and not available in all countries yet), but it does come "commercial free" and subscribing also gives access to video archives. The thought I had whilst looking at all this was that offerings such as these are really much like an extension (or expansion) of good old RSS - except that you get live video feeds of events as they unfold (I sound like an advertisement for a major news network) ;-) .....truly this is continued proof of the evolution of the Internet!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Vishing - a twist to phishing

It appears that a new method of phising is beginning to appear on the horizon, and chances are, likely to explode in the coming months.

Internet users are a bit more wary these days of clicking embedded links in emails so these scamming scounderels are beginning to use phone numbers (typically obtained via a VoIP service provider) to provide a level of comfortability for potential victims. Users are being emailed and asked to call a telephone number to "verify their account information" and, according to news reports, another variation is to configure an automatic phone dialler to dial a list of numbers, and if there is an answer, playback a recorded message saying the users cards had been compromised and to call a supplied telephone number. Call this number and you get asked for various personal information to "verify your account information". And there goes your account.......

This twist to phishing has potential to become a major problem. People tend to be more comfortable speaking on the phone than emailing, and this is the incentive behind using voice calls as a medium. VoIP accounts provide cheap calling rates, and some providers eg. in the US, may also provide free or 1cent domestic calls which leads to this being a viable tool for scammers. No point blaming the VoIP providers, as the onus really is on the user to exercise caution. Having said that, it may be time for VoIP providers to ask for suitable identification before allocating phone numbers.