Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Analyzing A YouTube Emergency (and some Friday Fun too)

YouTube notified me by email this morning that I had an emergency situation (shown below).

Fortunately for me, there were several clues that quickly allowed me to calm my panic, and get back to breathing normally again.

1) The first clue was that “YouTube Service” had also sent me two other – much happier – messages. (Imagine how proud and joyous I was to learn I was in the Top 10!!!! People pay big money to get their videos up that high, and it’s an elite club to belong to.)

2) The second clue was the fact that I simply am one of those few, extremely rare people who have never, ever, “uploaded” home movies to YouTube for the whole world to see. (Because I am a dinosaur.)

So let’s put on our thinking caps, and dissect what is going on here, and why these three emails are addressed to me. Please humor me and play along. It’s kind of important, and I’ll try not to speak Geek.

How did this happen and what’s going on?

* The first step in the chain of events is some skuzbucket used a program to cull the Internet for email addresses, and generated a “mailing list”. Which he/she uses as targets for their email scams, and which he/she sold to other skuzbuckets on the underground skuzball blackmarket for a quick dollar or two (more like 5¢).

* Next, this skuzbucket sat down and thought long and hard about composing a “letter” to send to all the people on his/her list — and here is where their knowledge of human psychology comes into play. The first thing one does when composing a scam letter to be sent to strangers is try to think of some way to get the recipient to even open the letter — and for this you need a COMPELLING subject line! (aka “the bait“)

History teaches that: “You Have Won Huge Money!” (aka “greed”) works well, as does “There Is A Problem” (curiosity, fear), and “I Saw Your Photo” (sex) type things often work too.

* Now all the skuzbucket has to do is email their compelling scam letter to the thousands and thousands and thousands of email addresses on their list, and hope that one or two-dozen recipients will be stupid and naive enough to REACT to the psychologically compelling Subject line, and open the email, AND hope that of those two-dozen or so stupid and naive people, one or two will be SO stupid and naive that they will respond to the scam.
Are there one or two people THAT stupid and naive?
Um.. let me answer this way: how many scam emails have you seen?

* Fortunately for the skuzbucket, mass-mailing millions of emails is not a problem or a challenge. See, there are other skuzbuckets whose full time job is to write viruses, and set up special websites to distribute these viruses, which creates a vast network of infected machines that they can control without the real owners’ knowledge, and do what they want with them — like mail out a million scam emails. (These skuzballs are called “bot masters” or “bot herders” by us Über Geeks.)
So the “spammer” skuzbucket contracts a “mailing” from the “bot master” skuzball. For, like, 5¢ per million emails.

Conclusions:

1) The reason we are seeing those psychologically compelling scam emails is the result of a Skuzbucket Conspiracy.

2) That conspiracy is carefully constructed and crafted to leverage basic human characteristics into finding the stupid and naive.

3) This conspiracy is effective and PROFITABLE. Why else would scam emails make up 90% of all Internet “traffic” and do so for decades.

4) The name of this money game is “phishing”.

(For two reasons: one, it’s really Geeky to spell “f” sounds with a “ph”; and, two, the skuzball(s) is “casting a net”, hoping to “catch” (aka “hook”) a sucker/rube/victim (aka “stupid and naive person”). Just like fishing, but for sucker fish.)

The best defense: Why, it’s simple! And odds are you have heard it before! Never Open Email From Strangers. (And don’t really trust those saying they came from someone you know/are related to either. The skuzballs know how to make email look like it came from people you know, too [called “address spoofing“].)

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Friday Fun. I gotta run. TGIF! (If you’re looking for a video, see the Comment section [below]).

Today’s quote:Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ~ William Shakespeare

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

October 5, 2012 - Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, security | , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. I am looking for the “Friday Fun…. Must be blind…or I still have my “flash” stuff disabled..

    In the meantime, let’s start a rumour.

    Star Trek is going to sue Apple….

    Brent Spiner claims ‘Star Trek’ invented everything, including the iPad – National Technology | Examiner.com

    Like

    Comment by delenn13 | October 5, 2012 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      He’s right. (“Touchscreen” Tablets were readily visible in Star Trek Enterprise well before the iPad appeared… for just one example.)

      And, no, there’s nothing wrong with your PC or being “blocked”. I took a little “artistic liberty” and called today’s article the “fun”, instead of my usual video. (And I hope it might be for some readers.)(Mostly because I ran out of time.)

      Perhaps a reader will post a “fun video”, and do my legwork for me. We shall see…

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. I will take the bait…

    Here’s the parody.. 2,999,619 hits so far…You should see all the flash mobs, how to’s and parodies of Original on YouTube..

    KLINGON STYLE (Star Trek Parody of PSY – GANGNAM STYLE) – YouTube

    And here’s the original…359,713,166 hits..

    PSY – GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) M/V – YouTube

    Like

    Comment by delenn13 | October 5, 2012 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      360 million, views?

      Wow.

      Not real sure what to say to/about that fact.. (aka “Laugh? Or cry?”)

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 5, 2012 | Reply

      • Not real sure what to say to/about that fact.. (aka “Laugh? Or cry?”)

        Why? Because your video that is in “the Top 10″ didn’t make that? Or just the fact it has almost 359 MILLION hits..period?

        In actuality, I find it interesting. If that song had been released before the internet..or even in early 2000’s, would it be the hit is now? NO! The internet has made it easier for someone from Asia/Korea ..or wherever, to become a overnight sensation all over the world. Can be a good thing..then it could be bad…

        Like

        Comment by delenn13 | October 5, 2012 | Reply

        • Oh and for the record..I got Windows Mail to work in Win7. Now I need to get the Calendar to work…. :)

          Any suggestions for a program to take my email out of Outlook in XP and move it to Windows Mail in Win7 or I am I just tilting at windmills?

          Like

          Comment by delenn13 | October 5, 2012 | Reply

        • delenn13,
          I have mentioned here before that I am a grumpy curmudgeon, so it should not surprise you when I say that my thought was “This is what the ‘net is being used for???” and “Don’t those millions have something better to do?”.

          But then, I know “monkeys throwing poo” did very very well too, so… I guess that music video was “better”.

          No. I have no problem with Good Fortune smiling on people, and them suddenly gaining Fame, Fortune, and Views. But I just don’t “get” some fads — like the Macarena, and pet rocks.
          (And, maybe Andy Warhol was right..)

          Please don’t think I don’t appreciate your posting though (and yes, I liked the Klingon version).

          Like

          Comment by techpaul | October 5, 2012 | Reply

  3. I received one of those “Emergency situation” emails too – my first reaction was to check google search for similar emails, but it was too early for any of them to show up – I must have been one of the first to receive it. So I looked at the source code of the email but there was no obvious clue there. I had actually been wondering whether it was valid because “content verification” is definitely a concern for me but I didn’t risk clicking their links. The main clue was a link to my “inbox” – I opened a new tab and logged into my real youtube account: there was no message relating to the “issue” in my real inbox! So their link to my “inbox” was clearly not going to take me to a valid site. The other clue was that googlemail had identified the email as spam – they would presumably not do that if it was genuine, since Google owns youtube….
    So I left the links unclicked and deleted the email. Glad to find this post a few days later, Paul :-) It shows I was right :-)

    Like

    Comment by David W Solomons | October 8, 2012 | Reply

    • David W Solomons,
      Whether it’s your bank, Amazon, FedEx.. or YouTube, if you are concerned the “notification” might be legit:
      I opened a new tab and logged into my real youtube account: there was no message relating to the “issue” in my real inbox!“.

      Never click the embedded link.

      It was refreshing to read your reaction to the “notification”. It showed the proper “paranoid common sense” one must have when online.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 8, 2012 | Reply

  4. Cheers :-)

    Like

    Comment by David W Solomons | October 8, 2012 | Reply


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