Archive | September 2010

I was nearly a victim of a battle.net email phishing scam.

Yesterday I very nearly became the victim of an email phishing scam that attempted to steal my battle.net account. If it had succeeded, the fraudsters would not only have gained control of my account, but they would have had access to personal details such as my date of birth and home address, and possibly even my credit card payment details.

The thing is, I never expected to be one of those people who get taken in by these things. I’ve received fraudulent emails before, but they were always obvious, full of errors in spelling and grammar, and just sounding, well, dodgy. So it alarmed me how easily I was nearly fooled this time.

Here is how it worked:

I received an email, appearing to come from from Blizzard, informing me that they had ‘strong evidence’ my account was being illegally traded. It went on, using legalistic terms, to explain that my account was being investigated and might be closed. I would have to take action by logging into my account to verify that I am, indeed, the owner.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have been taken in by this if I hadn’t recently had difficulty accessing my account. I had tried to log in the day before using an iPad app but could only access limited areas. As a result I already had concerns which leant credibility to the scam.

I followed the link and was just about to log in to battle.net when I (thankfully) became suspicious. First I decided to log into battle.net through my favorites rather than the site I was directed to by the link. The site looked almost exactly the same. There were some additional links and icons on the genuine one. The URLs were also subtly different – battrd.net rather than battle.net – but you would only spot this if you were looking carefully.

At this point I examined the email more closely. Now that my suspicions were raised, I could see obvious flaws. For a start, the subject line was”battle.net survey”. This clearly had nothing to do with the serious nature of the contents. While it appeared to have been sent  from noreply@blizzard.com, a quick check at the top of the message, where the source is displayed in Outlook Express, showed that it was in fact sent from a a hotmail account behalf of   noreply@blizzard.com. Unfortunately, when I originally opened the message, I was using my iPad – which doesn’t appear to have an option for displaying the source information.

How to avoid being scammed.

A quick check at of the blizzard website revealed that this is a common scam. They recommend a number of measures to take to avoid becoming a victim. A useful article about how to identify a phishing scam is here.

Blizzard also recommend a few security measures. The most basic is to ensure that the phishing filter in your internet browser is switched on. I assumed mine would be by default; however when I checked, it turned out it was switched off.

To activate the filter in IE8 go to Tools. Select Smart Screen Filter then Turn on Smart Screen Filter. After doing this, I returned to the site the email directed me to, and the filter immediately popped up a bright red warning.

The second measure they recommend is to protect battle.net accounts by using an authenticator. This adds an extra layer of security as you have to enter a code, randomly generated by the authenticator, every time you log in. You can mail order an authenticator from Blizzard or download a free app from ITunes.

Further advice from Blizzard around account security can be found here.

However, the main reason I nearly fell for this scam was complacency. I’ve become so comfortable in the environment that I don’t take nearly as much care around security as I did when I started functioning in this online world. Once I started looking carefully, it became obvious the email was a fraud. For me this experience has been a useful wake-up call.

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Loving the iPad

Yesterday I bought an iPad. The security guard who checked my bags as I left JB HiFi commented that it was an ” extravagant” purchase, and he was right. I really cannot justify spending money on this, except for the fact that I earned it and therefore can spend it how I please. And so, for the last 24 hours, I’ve been making the most of it.

The main application I thought I would use it for was as an ereader, but since I’ve had the iPad at home, I’ve been impressed by it’s potential in other areas. I DO use my phone to browse the net a lot at home. The computer is great, but I don’t always want to be sitting in front of it. The last two evenings I’ve enjoyed being able to just sit in front of the television, while following twitter feeds or checking imdb to find out what some of the actors who I recognize but cannot name may have done previously.

The case (purchased separately) enables the iPad to sit comfortably on my knees or the coffee table at a comfortable angle for browsing or typing.

Today I downloaded Pages and was so impressed by the interface that the iPad may well become my primary device for creating documents. The touch screen made the experience feel much more immediate, like writing on paper. There is no intermediary between me a the written product. I loved it’s tactile nature and the ease with which images and tables can be dragged around, resized or rotated using just one or two fingers. It was very Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

Some commentators complain about the onscreen keyboard. To be honest, for most applications I don’t think it is problematic; however, inputing a lot of text, as I am doing now, is certainly clumsier. I may be tempted to buy a wireless keyboard if I continue to write a lot.

I’ve also enjoyed it’s media applications. We don’t have a radio in our kitchen or bedroom. Today I enjoyed streaming digital radio via Pocket Tunes. I could do this with my iPhone as well, but it’s good to be able to listen without headphones.

I downloaded the iPad version of Words with Friends. It was so much easier to play scrabble on the larger screen, and once again i could do this while lounging on the couch.

Finally, I acquired the ‘WordPress’ app. And here I am in bed, updating my blog.

So, my initial verdict is that it was money well spent. I love to be able to work on the couch or in bed as I am now. I prefer it to a laptop as it is less bulky and more comfortable to engage with.

Twilight – Chapter 2

Synopsis (Spoiler alert)

First, Bella’s mum emails her to find out where her pink blouse is, then Bella discovers that after years of living alone her father can only cook fried eggs. Now I did find that all rather hard to believe. Bella cooked him up a steak the next night which he enjoyed – but come on, really – its not that hard to throw a steak on the grill. Her parents really are useless.

At school Mike follows Bella around like a loyal puppy and it is clear Eric is jealous – though it’s also clear Bella has no interest either of them. She is distracted by the fact that Edward hasn’t returned to school since their unpleasant encounter in biology class and can’t help thinking his absence has somehow been caused by her. But finally, after 4(?) days he returns. He looks different – with more colour in his cheeks.

When they are forced to be lab partners in biology class, he is surprisingly friendly. She ends up telling him why she came to Forks (so her mother could travel with her pro sportsman husband) and he perceives that she is not as happy as she appears on the surface. Bella is amazed at his ability to read her.

Bella also impresses both Edward and her teacher with her knowledge of Science. However just before the end of the lesson Edward starts clenching his fists and leaning away from her again.

So here’s what I think is going on:
Edward wasn’t angry at Bella after all, in Chapter One. He was overcome by bloodlust. He has obviously fed which explains the colour in his cheeks and his ability to be civil. But after an hour in her presence it kicks in again causing him to act as if repulsed.

He does behave like an abusive husband or boyfriend though – one moment cruel and the next moment kind. He will mess with her head if he keeps that up.

Twilight Chapter One

Warning: There will be spoilers here.

The story centres around Bella. We are not sure why she has left Phoenix (sunny) for Forks (wet and rainy). It appears that she has been looking after her loving, but distracted mother for some time and took on the adult role in their relationship. It also appears that her move is a sacrifice she has made to keep her mother happy – the mother appears to be in some new relationship. Bella is moving to stay with her caring but slightly stand-offish father who also happens to be the local police chief.

It is clear Bella has always been a ‘fish-out-of-water’ and she expects this will be even more the case in small town Forks where newcomers are viewed with suspicion and never truly accepted by the community.

She has misgivings about her new life, but the reader is quickly reassured that it won’t be as bad as Bella expects. Her father clearly loves her. He has photographs of her throughout his house and bought her a truck to drive to school which she loves.

Bella’s first day of school goes better than she anticipates. The students are curious about her and she is welcomed by a number of them, notably Eric (dark haired, pimply and overhelpful), Jessica (conventional, friendly) and Mike (attractive, blonde and obviously interested in Bella).

Bella also encounters Edward Cullen. First she spies him in the cafeteria and is taken by his beauty and that of his companions. She is forced to sit next to him in biology class. He has a very hostile reaction to her and spends the entire lesson leaning away from her as if repulsed, and clenching his fists as if angry. Bella is hurt and bewildered by his reaction to her.

What I think:

The symbolism of moving from sunny Phoenix to Gloomy Forks seems quite apparent. Light to dark – life to death – happiness to sadness etc. However, Bella’s pale skin seems to suggest that she may be at home in the dark and gloom even though she thinks she loves the sun. Her quite pessimistic outlook may also imjply this.

Edward and his friends are obviously the vampires. Why is it that so many vampires go to school these days? I imagine they would get very bored considering their no doubt advanced years.

I am wondering why Edward reacted so strongly to Bella. Perhaps she is the image of someone from his past whom it angers him to see.m