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.


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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October 5, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, security | , , , , | 11 Comments