Is your Gmail account spamming you?

By Annie Palmer for Daily Mail

A new spam attack is tricking a wave of Gmail users into thinking their account has been hacked.

Numerous users have reported that their inboxes were flooded with spam emails titled things like ‘growth supplements’.

However, in a bizarre twist, the ads appeared to have been sent from their own accounts.

Reports of the spam campaign began to trickle out on Saturday and Google has since confirmed the issue.

Users posted in Gmail’s help forum that they’d been hit by the spam attack despite having two-factor authentication and worried that their accounts were hacked.

“My email account has sent out 3 spam emails in the past hour to a list of about 10 addresses that I don’t recognize,” one user posted on Google’s help forum.

“I changed my password immediately after the first one, but then it happened two more times. The subject of the emails is weight loss and growth supplements for men advertisements. I have reported them as spam. Please help, what else can I do to ensure my account isn’t compromised?”

As it turns out, spammers figured out a way to bypass Gmail’s spam filters by using forged headers that make it look like Gmail users’ own e-mail addresses.

Because the messages seemed to be sent by the account owner, Gmail mistakenly filed them to the users’ sent folder.

The forged e-mail headers also appeared to have been sent “via telus.com”.

However, Canadian telecom firm Telus denied that the emails had come from its servers.

Google said users don’t need to worry that their accounts were compromised by the incident.

“We are aware of a spam campaign impacting a small subset of Gmail users and have taken measures to protect against it,” the firm told Mashable.

“This attempt involved forged email headers that made it appear as if users were receiving emails from themselves, which also led those messages to erroneously appear in the Sent folder.

“We have identified and are reclassifying all offending emails as spam, and have no reason to believe any accounts were compromised as part of this incident. If you happen to notice a suspicious email, we encourage you to report it as a scam,” the firm added.

How to check your account

A new spam attack is tricking a wave of Gmail users into thinking their account has been hacked.

Numerous users have reported that their inboxes were flooded with spam emails titled things like “growth supplements”.

However, in a bizarre twist, the ads appeared to have been sent from their own accounts.

The easiest way to check if you’ve been hit by the scam is to check your “sent” folder.

From there, check if any emails are listed as being sent by “via telus.com”.

If you find any, be sure to mark them as ‘spam’ so that they appear in the designated folder.

You can also report an email as a phishing scam by clicking on the dropdown menu, marked by an arrow, in the righthand corner.

Clicking this will give you the option to report an email as a phishing attempt.

Google said that the latest spamming attack hasn’t compromised any user accounts, so there’s no reason to believe your Gmail has been hacked.

Google employee Seth Vargo also addressed the spam attack in a tweet, saying that the firm’s “engineering teams are aware of this and are working on a resolution”.

The firm has developed sophisticated artificial intelligence that is capable of spotting fraudulent emails.

But it seems that this latest attack appears to be more alarming, as it was able to trick Gmail’s own spam filters, making it look like spammers hacked your account.

However, as Google pointed out, the spam attack isn’t a security issue because it doesn’t compromise the integrity of users’ data.

By Chris Merriman for The Inquirer 

We’re not ones to tattle. But it seems that Apple has a tattling problem and it’s manifesting in an email about tattling.

Let’s put it another way, a leaker within the Apple business has leaked a memo warning people to stop leaking things or they might lose their jobs and gain a reputation as a leaking son-of-a-gun.

In a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg that had been published on the supposedly internal-only employee blog, the innovating-Windows-hating company warned that it had ‘caught 29 leakers’ in 2017 of which 12 were arrested.

“These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere,” it warns.

Amongst the leaks were details about the iPhone X and Apple Watch that were hidden inside software, and the internal announcement about iPhone feature delays that was later plastered all over the tech press.

“We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else,” it warns.

Of course, audiences love the rumours, and we love being a part of that process, so we don’t necessarily agree with these sentiments, especially as they come from a leak about a leak, which is just so precious we could melt (with laughter).

The tech companies tell us that rumours reduce sales of the finished product and give intelligence to rivals in a cut-throat market.

From our direct experience over the past 20ish years, rumours about much-anticipated handsets are some of the most popular and engaged with articles we write, and a fair few of them come with record sales in tow, so we’re not convinced that it’s all bad.

In fact, a lot of rumours are started by the companies themselves. We suspect that at least one upcoming handset we can think of has been massively hyped by the company itself dropping tidbits.

And no, we’re not going to tell you which One. Plus we suspect Apple has done it too, on more than one occasion.

By Thandi Skade for Destiny Connect

FNB has announced the launch eWallet eXtra, a mobile offering that enables unbanked South Africans to open a bank account remotely via their cellphones.

The service, which is scheduled for launch in June, will enable consumers to open a bank account without ever having to walk into a branch and without having to submit any paperwork.

The entire process of opening an account is done digitally and the only details you would have to input on your phone is your name, surname and ID number.

“eWallet eXtra will enable users to send or receive deposits from individuals and other banks, store funds for an unlimited period, pay accounts and also buy prepaid products like airtime, data and electricity. Users can also on send to other recipients and withdraw at any FNB ATM or at tills across participating Spar stores, which also allow for over-the-counter purchases. The daily spend limit is R3 000,” says Gugu Zikhali, FNB Head of Transaction Products: Mass Market.

Account holders will also be able to check their bank account balance and transaction history and similar to any bank account, you’ll need to generate a PIN in order to access the account.

The idea was born out of the need to bring the gap between banked and unbanked consumers, while also servicing the needs of irregular income earners like season workers who don’t always necessarily need all the services offered with a traditional bank account.

“This is why we have integrated some eWallet functionality into the eWallet eXtra mobile bank account. After an in-depth assessment of eWallet user patterns, we realised that in excess of one million users have been effectively using it as a bank account despite the fact that the solution was designed as a remittance service,” says Pieter Woodhatch, FNB Easy CEO.

There are no monthly banking fees attached to eWallet eXtra and it doesn’t accept debit orders.

“We believe that eWallet eXtra is the ideal solution to address this important gap and based on the analysis of our customer base and research on financial inclusion, we estimate the size of this market to be in excess of 11 million,” he adds.

You need to be over the age of 16 to use the offering.

Image credit: Memeburn

Netflix subscriber count hits 125-million

Netflix’s first quarterly report for the 2018 financial year shows that after notching its most subscriber additions in Q4 2017 (8.33 million) it barely slowed down.

Over the last three months, it added another 7.4 million subscribers (1.96 million of them in the US), its second-biggest quarter ever and enough to hit 125 million subscribers on the dot. The ongoing flood of new content certainly helps, including stunts like its Super Bowl Sunday release of The Cloverfield Paradox.

Despite the response from critics Netflix still said: “the event showcased how a big branded film can be marketed and delivered to consumers instantaneously across the globe without a wait for the theatrical window.” Meanwhile, the Spanish series Money Heist became its “most-watched non-English series on Netflix ever.”

While confirming that it will spend between $7.5 and $8 billion this year on content, there isn’t much new to announce. Netflix touched on its expanded agreement with Comcast briefly, and while it didn’t reveal bundle prices it said “We believe that the lower churn in these bundles offsets the lower Netflix ASP.”

Source: Engadget 

By Jason Del Rey for Recode

With a stock price that has increased 135% over the last five years, Home Depot remains one of the few giant brick-and-mortar retailers to find success in the age of Amazon.

Now, the $200 billion home improvement retailer is going on the biggest technology hiring spree in its history to try to maintain that edge.

Home Depot plans to add more than 1 000 new hires to its technology teams in 2018, the company will announce on Wednesday, to support an $11 billion multi-year investment plan to extend its lead in brick-and-mortar retail over competitors like Lowe’s and fend off increased competition from Amazon and other online players. The company has approximately 2,800 employees in technology roles today.

The hires will span roles such as software engineering, user experience design, network engineering and product management, and be located predominately in the company’s Atlanta, Austin and Dallas technology offices, the company said.

They mark the onset of an $11.1 billion strategic plan, first announced in December, designed to improve Home Depot’s online shopping experience, expand its warehouse footprint to speed up deliveries, and make improvements to its stores to help customers find items quicker and check out faster. Recode reported in December that Home Depot had weighed an acquisition bid for the $9 billion logistics company XPO to beef up its shipping and delivery capabilities.

Matt Carey, Home Depot’s chief information officer, acknowledged in an interview that the hiring numbers might not compare to those of the leader in U.S. online retail, Amazon. But they mark an increase of more than a third for Home Depot’s technology staff, and Carey said he’s confident the company’s current plan is a differentiated one.

“I don’t run their roadmap; I run my roadmap,” he said of Amazon in an interview with Recode. “The roadmap we have is one our customers are encouraging us to go execute on. I’m not limited by anything other than time right now.”

By Alex Hern for The Guardian 

Facebook has started the process of notifying the approximately 87 million users whose data was harvested by the election consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The social network eventually hopes to inform every user who was affected with a warning at the top of their Facebook news feed. For now, however, individuals can check by going to a new help page on the site or searching for “How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?” in Facebook’s help centre.

Most users will see a message saying that “neither you nor your friends logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’”, the personality quiz that Cambridge Analytica used to gather its data.

Around 87 million individuals, including more than 1 million people in the UK, will receive a different response saying “a friend of yours did log in”.

That means that their public profile, page likes, birthday and current city were likely shared with the company, as well as potentially the contents of their news feed at the time.

Around 300,000 people – including 53 people in Australia, 10 people in New Zealand, and an unknown number of users in the UK – will receive a message informing them that they installed the This Is Your Digital Life app.

This means they almost certainly handed over the personal information of all their Facebook friends at the time, as well as formed part of the core group for the psychometric profiling that Cambridge Analytica carried out during the US election campaign.

Facebook has promised widespread changes to its platform to prevent further “abuse” of the sort it attributes to Cambridge Analytica. “These actions would prevent any app like [This Is Your Digital Life] from being able to access so much data today,” the company said in March.

Police take IT supplier to court

By Angelique Serrao for News24

The battle between the police and a supplier that switched off access to critical IT systems last week has hit the courts.

Last week, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), a police supplier which has been accused of corruption, threatened to suspend the police’s Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) and Firearm Permit System (FPS), unless the police and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) pay them.

The company, run by businessman Keith Keating, claimed SITA had not paid them for five months for their services.

The two systems – as well as a system called the VA-Amis proprietary solution – supplied by Keating’s other company Investigative Software Solutions (ISS) – were all switched off, leaving the police’s capacity to handle forensic evidence, firearm controls and their ability to do in-depth investigations stranded.

Police responded publicly to FDA by saying that it was coming up with contingency solutions.

Behind the scenes, in a letter seen by News24, attorneys for the SAPS and SITA wrote to FDA and ISS saying that, in barring the police from accessing the three systems, the companies were acting unlawfully.

They went into detail about each of the three systems and their functions, and stated why they believed FDA could not block them from accessing them.

FPS, they said, was initiated in 2006 to perform critical functions of marking, identifying, issuing and tracking its firearms. It also enables the storage of information regarding the ballistic characteristics of the firearms.

The letter said SAPS was granted a permanent, non-expiring licence to use the FPS and to make sufficient copies for backup purposes. SAPS paid a once-off licence fee of R11.6-million and this meant that, by stopping the police from using the system, the FDA was acting unlawfully, the letter stated.

The PCEM system is used to log evidence and track it throughout the process, ensuring the chain of evidence is not broken.

Lawyers representing SAPS said in the letter that SAPS access to the PCEM system was governed by a written agreement concluded between the police and Unysis Africa in 2010.

“In exchange for the PCEM licence, SAPS was required to pay a once-off licence fee of R35 910 000,” the letter said.

“Notwithstanding, the fact that SAPS paid the full licence fee to Unysis under the PCEM Licence Agreement, FDA has with effect from 5 April 2018, unlawfully prevented SAPS and/or any of its members from accessing the PCEM system.”

The VA-Amis contract, SAPS said, was governed by a written agreement between SITA and ISS concluded in June 2017.

In exchange for the licence and performance of the VA-Amis services, SITA was required to remunerate ISS in the form of service fees which could not exceed R80 954 179, the letter said. This full amount was paid to ISS the SAPS lawyers said.

Police and SITA then threatened to go to court on an urgent basis if the systems were not turned on.

News24 understands that the police were set to approach the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria earlier this week on an urgent basis, but the application was halted after the systems were restored.

The case is set to be heard on Thursday instead.

The State wants the companies to restore the police’s possession of, access to and use of the intellectual property for the three systems.

Keating told News24 that FDA was served with an urgent application on Monday afternoon to restore all the services “due to the fact that SITA and SAPS now suddenly admit that the services are mission critical and of national importance”.

Keating said they agreed to switch on VA-Amis, but “due to SITA legal now playing games around the terms of switching back on, this has still not occurred”.

SITA and SAPS re-established the services for FPS and PCEM illegally, Keating said.

He said that FDA would approach the court on an urgent basis.

By Eric Johnson for Recode 

Starting with its very first episode, the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley” satirized the idea that tech entrepreneurs were “making the world a better place.” But Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said people in his industry really believe that – or, at least, they used to.

“That’s something that I would say most people in Silicon Valley would like to believe,” Stoppelman said on the latest episode of Recode Decode.

“I think we’re waking up to realize a lot of big companies, presumably under pressure to grow and satisfy Wall Street, are focusing more on growth and making money than sticking to some core set of values that are aspirational.”

Stoppelman said the ongoing crisis of techlash is a reflection of some leaders’ inability or unwillingness to commit to corporate values early in their businesses’ existence, although he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook that “not all companies are created equal” in that regard.

“In some ways, Silicon Valley as a whole has lost its purpose,” Stoppelman said. “If its purpose really was, ‘Hey, we’re really trying to have a positive impact,’ just focusing on technology and growth might not be enough. You might actually have to make decisions that hurt growth.”

On the new podcast, Stoppelman also talked about Yelp’s years-long feud with Google. Yelp contends that Google has unfairly favored its own local listings in search results, something Stoppelman said the Google of the past would have criticized.

“The 2004 Google — the Larry Page-Sergey [Brin] Google — would make absolute fun of the search results you see today,” he said. “They pointed at Yahoo and said, ‘Look at Yahoo! They’re trying to trap you in their ecosystem. They don’t want you to get to the best of the web.’”

Scrutiny of big tech, he noted, is one of the few political issues that seems to have bipartisan support in the U.S. right now. But ultimately, despite some welcome regulations in the EU, Stoppelman said Yelp is carrying on with the assumption that the status quo is not about to be upended stateside.

“Obviously, we live in reality, and the government is not the speediest at dealing with these situations,” he said. “So we just find our way.”

The Google Pixel smartphone’s dialler will soon have a spam filtering feature that sends suspected spam callers directly to voicemail.

According to MyBroadband, this is an extension of the app’s existing ability to alert users as to whether it suspects a call of being a “suspected spam caller”.

Instead of a missed call, numbers marked as “spam” or “suspected spam” will be automatically sent to voicemail where they can be listened to at a later date.

This may pose a problem for the traditional telemarketing companies. Once a company has been marked as “spam” by a number of users, it will be “blacklisted” and not appear as a call.

Marketing for large companies is often done by telephone.

SA to get e-visas by March 2019

By Nic Andersen for The South African

Sick of all the paperwork every time you travel to South Africa? Well, e-visas could soon make things a whole lot easier.

The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that phase one of a rollout of electronic visas (e-visas) will begin on 31 March 2019.

While some of the final details are still up in the air, a parliamentary reply from Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba has revealed more about what travellers can expect.

What exactly is an e-visa?
While we’re sure some foreign nationals had hope regarding being free of paperwork, Gigaba says some will still be involved.

“E-visa introduces online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. An application will be captured and submitted online together with the required supporting documents that will be scanned and attached to the application. The applicant will then present himself/herself before a DHA Official for biometric enrollment and verification of the supporting documents.”

Following the verification of those documents, all the relevant forms are electronically routed to the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria for adjudication. For an approved visa/permit, a secure QR-Code is generated for print on the notification notice/letter sent to the applicant. This QR-Code contains the approved visa/permit detail and is maintained and managed by DHA at a “secure web-storage facility”.

That very same QR-Code will then be scanned upon arrival here in SA.

The e-visa rollout plan
Beginning with what the department is calling “Phase one, release one”, applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas and applications for waivers will be done through the new system.

The rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local Home Affairs office yet to be determined.

“This is to ensure system stability. Once table, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online,” Gigaba said

According to DA Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos, these modern-day visas will have big positives for the tourism industry.

“Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure.”

“Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1,4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.”

The new system could see tourists flocking to SA in larger numbers than before.

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