Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is the Twitter spam invasion? And how can you prevent it?

Here's a release sent to me recently! Reproduced here for readers.

UK: With the popularity of social networking platforms such as Twitter on the rise, cyber criminals have found an easy target among unsuspecting users. BitDefender offers advice on how Twitter users can avoid falling prey to some of the most common tricks regularly employed by hackers.

One of the biggest spam related security problems facing Twitter are the many link-shortening services utilized for hyperlink posting. Users are limited to 140 characters per tweet; these URL-shortening services allow tweeters to post a longer link under such tight character limitations.

Hackers use these link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Some infections could be easily prevented by allowing users to see the real URL before clicking on it.

BitDefender’s senior antispam researcher Catalin Cosoi says, “Another big problem is the fact that search engines, such as Google, index Twitter profiles. This allows malicious pages that are built and marketed with good social engineering tactics to end up high in the rankings. Additionally, because Twitter messages are so short lived, users could unknowingly send spam messages without having the opportunity to notice that someone else is using their account.”

Some of the common types of Twitter spam include:
1. Tweet spam: Tweet spam comes from someone a user is currently following and everyone following that user will see the tweet.

2. Direct Message: A direct message comes from someone a user is currently following and only the user will see the message.

3. ReTweet Spam: ReTweet spam searches for legitimate tweets and reposts them in the system but with a different, malicious URL.

4. Trending Subjects Spam: Trending subjects spam searches for hot topics on Twitter (like Michael Jackson’s death) and posts similar tweets with different, malicious URLs.

5. Following Spam: Following spam happens when a user’s profile receives a lot of followers he/she doesn’t know. If the user does not start following them back within a week, they stop following the user.

Statistics show that one in two users will follow back. Usually, these profiles are bots which are programmed to acquire as many followers as possible before they can start broadcasting spam.

Fortunately, Twitter users can protect themselves from falling into spam traps by following five tips:

1. Install a comprehensive security solution on your computer - preferably a suite containing antivirus, firewall and a phishing filter.

2. Follow the spam profile on Twitter: Users can find good advice here. For example, a recent post states: "If you gave your login and password info to TwitViewer, we strongly suggest you change your password now. Thanks!"

3. Don’t click on all the links you receive.

4. Disable the "auto followback" option. This will allow you to pick and chose who you want to follow.

5. Make sure you know who you are following.

Cosoi adds: “By following these simple tips, users of social networking sites like Twitter can protect themselves from spammers and other cyber criminals.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blogger turns 10! Many happy returns of the day!!

Last week, Google's well known Blogger platform turned 10! Many happy returns of the day!

How did I learn of this? From a follower on Twitter, named TechPupil. Apologies, I can't paste that particular story link here, lest that link turn into a malware host or some bad link later on! :) So, please search for this site, and the post on Blogger turning 10!

I may have been having some tough times in the recent weeks with Blogger -- first with it marking my blog -- Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog -- as having malware, and later, removing the site, and later, it also blocked five of my other blogs -- on electronic components, electronics, semiconductors, solar/PV and telecom -- as spam blogs, only to release it later, on request.

My troubles apart, I am the first to admit to being a massive fan of blogger, and find it a great, very user friendly platform with super features. Hey, those are the very reasons that I've so many blogs on Blogger in the first place!

Would definitely hate to leave Blogger, some day! I personally share an emotional history with it -- as this very blogging platform also won me a best blogger's world title in early December 2008, and another, in February 2009 -- for Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog.

Am quite sure that Blogger has made a mistake somewhere regarding my blog and sincerely hope that sooner or later, it will be returned to me. If, for some reason, it remains unreturned, let that famous and well known blog rest in peace!

And well, as I've told a couple of friends, if I can write that particular blog, I can very well write other such blogs quite easily, especially on semiconductors and telecom! Besides, my identity starts and ends with me, and not with that particular blog, or any other, for that matter.

Till this last week, I've never had any problems with the Blogger platform and in fact, have recommended it to several of my friends and colleagues. Keeping with its trend, it is quite certain that Blogger will be introducing great features in the future for bloggers such as you and me!

Keep up the good work, Blogger (and Google)!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Google blocked my blog! So, I moved to another URL!!

Wonder why Google has done so! A few days ago, I kept receiving messages that there was some malware within my blog -- Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog -- with the url

The next thing I know late evening is -- this blog is first blocked and then it disappears!

Since then, I've received lots of messages from friends and people from far away, who've been searching for my blog and blog posts. Thanks a lot for your support, guys!

I've sent requests to Google to return my blog, but till now, no reply has come from them!

Nevertheless, within one hour of this event, I changed to a new blog address, which is:! Yes, I've finally moved this blog out of Blogger, even though I didn't want to! I've been literally forced to do so!

I'd added a new site --, only for that too to be blocked for malware. I've no idea what's happened, and now, I have stopped bothering.

I have added a site with the same blog posts -- -- but I don't know how long it will be before this gets blocked for malware.

I wonder why Google said I had malware on my blog, when I only blog about technology related subjects, and especially, semiconductors and telecom. There's no post on sleaze or pornography or sex! Even then?

I didn't know that semicon and telecom were just some other bad words! Apologies!!

Well, most importantly, why on earth will I promote spam or malware? And, how am I to supposed to know what links will later go on to become malware or spam? And even if some links did become like those, isn't it Google's job to protect bloggers like us? They are the online experts, and not I!

How can blogging ever be safe, when the leading global company promoting a blogging platform can't protect itself, leave alone bloggers!

I've tried to do work as honestly as possible. Even then, if I am penalized for no fault of mine, there's nothing much I can do!

About a month ago, Google found my Electronics blog a spam blog! Why will I spam anyone, when I don't even have a newsletter? Nor have I told anyone to spam my posts. It is up to readers to visit that particular blog and read what they wish!

Today, I receive another mail from Google, saying my Solar PV blog is a spam blog!

Come on guys! This is just too much!!

Coming back to my main blog, I have a dedicated follower of readers -- who visit Pradeep Chakraborty's Blog to read that content. If I were, some day, to stop blogging -- because of Google's actions -- please don't blame me!

Or, perhaps, I should move over to Wordpress, or some other blogging platform, where I don't have to break my head over being a spam blog or an attack site, etc. etc.! Nor do I wish to make scores of backups for my blogs! Or, to change URLs. Where's the need? There's much more to life beyond all of this!

Really, this is extremely irritating and frustrating! So much for blogging!!

Maybe, next time this happens, I'll have to bid goodbye to Blogger.

Am also very sure that the semiconductor and telecom worlds can find much better bloggers...

P.S.: Well, after locking three other blogs -- solar, telecom and later, semiconductors, Google unlocked those. Thanks a lot, Google.

Update: August 24 -- Now, Google has blocked my Electronic Components blog! This, after removing my main blog, and then blocking (and later releasing) Solar, Telecom and Semiconductor blogs... and earlier, Electronics! Just don't know what to make of all these...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thanks to Maxitweet, 140 characters no longer Twitter limit!

A new service, called Maxitweet, seems to have found a way to extend the limit of your tweets to beyond 140 characters. Read on...

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: Type "140 characters" into Twitter's search box and the resulting tweets come flooding in -- predictably the majority of them lamenting this constraint. A new Twitter service, has found a way around the restriction by clever use of letter-like symbols called Unicode characters.

"Maxitweets" are up to 200 characters long, an increase of nearly 50 percent, and have opened up new possibilities for the fast growing Twitter communications platform.

For example, tweeted recipes ("twecipes") are easier to read with the extra space available. A number of poets have also responded enthusiastically. A limerick aficionado, who had given up on trying to tweet the humorous five-liners because they tend to be around 180 characters long, now posts them several times a day as @limerik. And breaking news services -- among the more prominent users of Twitter -- are able to tweet the news item, rather than just a link to it.

How does it work?
Twitter caters for users in many countries and therefore transmits in a universal font language called "Unicode." It contains over 100,000 glyphs in hundreds of languages. Maxitweet was the first to realize that glyphs resembling two or more normal letters can help to transmit text more efficiently.

In the word "lions," for example, two characters are saved by replacing the vowels with a Cyrillic letter resembling "io," followed by the Unicode symbol for nanosecond "ns."

"We spent weeks combing through thousands of glyphs in many languages -- Cyrillic, Thai, Arabic, Hiragana," says Wytze Hoekstra, project manager at FrisianStyle Productions, which runs "We then wrote a javascript engine that compresses text in the background and delivers a user-friendly experience."

Will the new limit improve the Twitter experience? Even though 140 was enough to produce many memorable tweets, like those collected by -- "Museum for the Art of Micro-Elegance" -- it remains to be seen whether the expanded limit will take Twitter to new heights. Some say 140 characters is too many. "I'd only call about 30 of them 'characters.' The other 110 are quite boring." -- Aimee Brock (@Aimee_B_Loved on Twitter).

Perhaps, the argument is best summed up by Jason Shellen (@shellen): "When people ask me about the brevity of Twitter I always tell them 'You can really say a lot in just 140 characters. More than you would th '."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is Twitter hyped? Research indicates otherwise!

UK: Underneath all the hype about Twitter, evidence is emerging that it can bring genuine value when used in the business environment, particularly for the younger generation.

Business-to-business industry researcher AIIM found that 27 percent of 18-30 year-olds agree that Twitter is an important rapid-feedback tool for business use, compared to only 7 percent of those over 45.

Users feel it gives them unprecedented access to answers from experts, and they find it useful for running mini polls, sharing opinions during conferences and events, and making contacts whilst travelling. In total, 34 percent of the survey population has a Twitter account.

The survey also found that business users of Twitter are much more engaged than personal users, with half of the business users actively contributing and posting, rather than merely following.

As regards following, 55 percent of users feel it has given them a useful insight into other professional's lives and businesses. However, even among committed users, there is a concern that Twitter might steal too much of their time, with 74 percent using it during working hours.

“We’ve been tracking the rapid growth of Enterprise 2.0 -- the business use of social media - for a couple of years,” comments Atle Skjekkeland, VP of AIIM, “but Twitter has grown much faster than anything we’ve seen before. It seems to me that Twitter brings back such quick answers from any expert community that it cannot fail to have a lasting place within the general business toolbox.”

The AIIM survey, which polled 788 respondents, indicates that LinkedIn is twice as popular as Facebook for business networking, with over 50 percent of participants having an account.

Two thirds feel that professional networking on the web is vital to their career progression –- even more so in the current difficult times. Pressure is growing on IT departments to replicate social networking tools within the work environment, with a third expecting to use the same type of networking tools with their business colleagues as they do with friends and family, and 71 percent finding it easier to locate knowledge on the web than it is to find it on internal systems.

The AIIM research report is entitled “Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0: work meets play or the future of business?” Part of the AIIM Industry Watch series, the report is free to download from the AIIM website, It is underwritten by Allyis, Ektron, EMC Corporation and