A Look at Email and General Online Communication Security

We held our second Digital Media and Marketing Community Study Group on January 30 2016. We had twelve participants attend the Email and Internet Security discussion and a couple of short demonstrations.

Email Communication and Internet Security Study Group

In opening, we thanked the Salish people for use of this beautiful land.

The session started off with a “In the News” item. Seems like Canada’s spy agencies are not only saving meta data but also sharing it with other spy agencies around the world. Amanda Connolly writes in ipolitics.ca “…a pair of reports that slammed the Communications Security Establishment for breaking the law and sharing Canadians’ metadata …” We talked about this for a few minutes and generally agreed that the spy agency’s claims that they never shared the actual content of Canadians’ emails but only shared the meta data was completely ludicrous.

We were supposed to get a presentation from Mike. He’s a DTES techie type that offers a $150 Smartphone with free telephone service for life. As this seemed too good to be true we invited him to give us the presentation but he failed to show up. The facilitator said he would try to coax the free-from-the-telephone-companies guy into coming back to the shark tank so we could tear his scam apart. That could be interesting.

We had a brief summary of last session’s main topics and then started into Internet Security stuff.

We talked about the panhandler from Los Angeles who started accepting credit cards swipes on his Smartphone as a measure to counteract passersby’s claims to only carry plastic. It’s a free app, why not. It’s just a matter of time when someone will figure out how to capture your credit card data with a swipe app and then industrious homeless people will be out of luck with this innovation.

One of the participants was asking about the various types of Internet marketing methods that are currently being deployed. We narrowed it down to search engine marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing and email marketing. This study group will only focus on the search engine and social media marketing options as the other two are becoming more obsolete each year.

We did talk a moment about robo-calling. This can be an effective means of communication and marketing however it comes with risks. We learned that in Google Hangouts, users can place telephone calls anywhere across Canada for free. The process of making Skype or G+ Hangout telephone calls could be automated, we concluded giving a bit of validity to our free-phone elixir salesman.

We had a demonstration on what was meta data in both an email message and in an HTML page. One identifies locators and users while the other is used to give the search engine or the Internet browser instructions. We looked at the HTML Title tag situated in the <HEAD> and was instructed that in fact this could be the most important tag in your entire web document.

We talked about how the search engine, the operating system and some software programs are design to collect intelligence from its users. This data was suggested to not only be used for security reasons but was likely for sale to advertisers in order to better target ad delivery.

We looked at how easy it was to place search engine ads on our own web pages and to generate residual income from web traffic that choose to go elsewhere. It was surmised that click-through fraud could easily be perpetrated by encourage others to click ads. We examined several ways in which web pages are intended to trick visitors into clicking through ads. We talked about “Internet visitors”, a new IT position that was created to exclusively go to web pages and click through advertisement. It was mentioned that most of these fraudsters have their operations overseas but do have satellite centres clustered throughput North America in order to appear to be more local. Unfortunately some Internet marketers take advantage of slave and even child labour in order to profit from click-through revenue generation.

We went through various functions of the <HEAD> and the <BODY> sections of web pages, looking particularly at meta, title, link, image, paragraph and heading tags.

We talked about Google's "engineering glitch" that caused its Google Mobile to capture household wireless network passwords while in the process of simply taking pictures of houses on the street. Fred concurred that if Streetview had this technology then what the heck was the Google mobile doing in our Parliament buildings? Fred also made us aware of the revelations that Edward Snowden (NSA whistleblower) leaked regarding tech companies including Google, Yahoo and Facebook that were working closely with American spy agencies by allowing unfeathered access to their servers.

Wil gave a very brief glimpse into his understanding of cyber culture and its impact on contemporary society. It was a good enough tease for his upcoming presentation on this topic February 27, 2016.

There was a brief discussion on how the search engine now uses localization and personalization to offer a more accurate search result for its users.

Finally, we examined a couple of the more traditional ways that people attempt to scam others out of money using the Internet.

The module closed with a draw for two free meals at the Evelyn Saller Centre.

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