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Technological Deceit - A Moral Issue


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#1 Guest_PhoenixRisen_*

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 04:44 PM

I received an email offering services that seem to me unnecessary. Why would one need to forward anonymously to make it appear that the email originated in a foreign country?

 

Deceit is deceit. I was surprised that my spam filter did not catch it. I have been considering changing to a new email provider for a simpler interface. Part of the terms of Agreement with my current email provider allows them to use content to provide ads they deem appropriate to my interest That is another reason for wanting to change

 

This is a question of morality. My position is that there is no need to deceive. Discussion and reasoned, respectful  debate are welcome.



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#2 Animal

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 05:39 PM

Two words, Multi-national businesses. Three words if you want to be specific.

Possible Scenario: Headquarters that generates distribution content in one country. But wants to send correspondence to clients, customers in another country. They have a presence in that country but not administrative. Make the email appear that it was generated in the country with the clients to be more consumer/client friendly.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
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#3 Guest_PhoenixRisen_*

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 06:26 PM

Having a few health issues I, less than intelligently, opened it. The preview caught my eye with a message about a new medical discovery RE: Osteoarthritis. It was a foreign country offering any drugs I might want at low prices; your pain will disappear.

 

There was a caveat that one must be able to say they over 18. Caveat emptor, in my opinion, is an effort to dodge responsibility. 

 

It is my understanding that these hidden IP private email forwarding accounts are frequently a way to circumvent the law. My opinion is that the effort to be consumer friendly is overridden by the need to protect the weak from experimentation. 

 

Note: The phrase "less than intelligently" may well qualify for a Gold Medal in the Understatement Olympics.



#4 Animal

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 08:10 PM

Much like any 'tool' there is the opportunity for it to be misused. While still maintaining a perfectly useful and valid purpose when it was created.

My analogy is a knife in a hands of a chef or surgeon is a good thing. In the hands of a criminal, something entirely different. It's all about what your intentions are with the 'tool'.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
Andrew Brown (1938-1994)


A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." Douglas Adams (1952-2001)


"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


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#5 rp88

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 10:52 PM

The wish for proof of age isn't about dodging responsibility, it's about getting the receiver of the email to send proof which can then be used to steal their identity. The act of opening the scam/spam email shouldn't have done any harm unless you then opened an attachment, the fact you saw images in the email means it is possible, depending how certain servers operate, that the scammer could detect that someone viewed those images and hence he would know that your email address is actively in use. If that is the case, expect more spam soon. For scammers i guess that there are areas which have built up reputations over time of having a high concentration of online con-men, hiding the ip address and routing through another country might allow the scammers to make people believe them who would not have believed them if they used the real ip, but anyone with the technical skills to recognise an ip wouldn't fall for such a scam anyway, so routing the email via another country is a bit pointless for the crooks.

 

Actually i'm surprised by crooks continuing to try and make even semi legit looking/sounding emails, since only the most gullible will fall for most such scams one would imagine scammers would move to making emails that actually looked like scams, so when they got any "tug of a fish on the line" for one of the emails they sent out they would know the person replying was very gullible and hence would probably fall for the scam all the way.that way they would only have to put time and effort into the final persuasion of the most gullible to part with their money, whilst if they sent a more legit looking email as the first lure(remember sending out the initial emails costs them nothing at all) they would have more responders to try and finish tricking, most of whom would gradually realise someone was trying to scam them and back out within a few message exchanges.

 

Also maybe if it was chance and the spam email went out to thousands, but if you have a disease/condition and the scam specifically aimed at sufferers of your disease/condition then it seems probable that the scammers have already got some kind of details about you.


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#6 ElfBane

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 04:10 AM

@PhoenixRisen,

 

Here's the deal, if you use a free email client, then you WILL be bombed banner/sidebar ads... period. Consider going to a paid service. But even a paid service's spam filter may not catch everything, caveat emptor.

 

If you have a PC and surf the Interwebs, then assume your data is being gathered, stolen, archived (whatever term you wish to use). If you wish absolute privacy, then cut-the-cord,,, Ethernet cord, that is.

 

Remember, just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean the aren't out to get you



#7 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 07:11 PM

rp88 has a point, but the marginal cost of sending one more spam e-mail is essentially zero, so even a very low response rate can be cost effective from the spammer's point of view

 

As Elfbane said, it is impossible to use the internet without leaving information here and there - registration information, log-in details, casually dropped personal info such as gender, age, marital and family status, and so on and so on.

 

Most spam is not targeted specifically. Since it is so cheap to generate, send out 100k e-mails on the probability of getting a catch - that will pay for it and show a profit. Spam that is targeted is much more dangerous, but requires the expenditure of more effort to accumulate the data to create the targets. Ask Lockheed, Boeing and the Iranian nuclear industry.

 

Yes it's deceitful, but all forms of con trick are. And I don't think spam filters to filter spam 100% with no false positives exist. You have to use a bit of commonsense in self defence. If you don't know who an e-mail is from, don't open it, just delete it. Never ever click on a link in an e-mail unless you are certain you know who it is from.

 

Having said all that, I must admit a certain fondness for the 419 scam e-mails that float around. I quite enjoy being addressed as 'My dear One' and the language in some is a thing to be admired !

 

Chris Cosgrove



#8 rp88

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 07:51 PM

To explain my point about scams trying to look legit, and how trying to do so isn't always the scammers plan i'll put it slightly differently. The whole idea with a deliberately scammy looking scam email is so only the easily fooled reply, sending out the emails is free and effortless for the crooks but to actually get money from someone their victim needs to "bite on the line" and respond, the more emails are used to "reel them in" until they give out sensitive data. If a scammer sends out legit looking emails he's going to get a higher number of responses per million he sends, but then most of those who responded to the first email will realise it is a scam when the scammer replies again to them. The replying again bit takes effort, the scammer can only (for time constraint reasons) reply to a given number of emails but he can send an infinite number out.

 

So if the scammer makes the scam emails look like scams in the first place then he will get less initial responses per million addresses spammed but the fact that people responded to these really scammy looking emails he sent indicates those few he has "hooked" are more gullible. That way when the effort bit, of replying to the victims first reply, comes round the scammer knows that at this stage he has a more gullible group of people than a legit looking email would get, so he knows spending time working on these people will more likely pay off for him than spending time trying to convince average responders. by making the email look scammy he has pre-selected  so that his responders will be more gullible than if his email had looked legit.

 

Ofcourse that pre-selection business doesn't work with scammers who send infected attachments rather than try and con people into giving them financial info. Because attacking someone with an attachment doesn't need them to respond and be "reeled in", but where a victim requires some persuasion between the "millionaire prince" telling him he is a distant relation and the moment he lets the "prince" have his money the scammer would end up making more money per unit effort (not per email sent but they are free anyway) if he pre-selected so only really gullible people (rather than merely plain gullible)  would even make a first reply. It's a logical argument i read somewhere, years ago, for why so many scams actually start " Dear valued friend i am writing to you from (insert scam source nation) about a large some (and they do have deliberate spelling errors) of money which appears to belong to you...". If you treat the "cost" of the initial email being zero, but the "cost" of effort and time for the scammer to reply to his victim's reply is non-zero then making the emails look as ridiculous as possible in the first place turns out to be the crook's easiest strategy. 

 

AS for info internet users leave behind, individually any piece means nothing but it is scary to think how much can be deduced from combining stuff. If someone trying to spy on a user finds the right links between different content the user has made they could probably trace a lot of real info about them very quickly.

 

Spam filters can never truly filter all spam, for mass messages they have to have a few get into some people's accounts before they (the email service provider) realise a message is sent out in large numbers, or they have to have multiple receivers report a sending address as spam before they block that address, and searching for keywords isn't very reliable. In most cases it is harmless to open the email (unless your email account is set to display images) but all attachments from addresses you have not seen before should be considered infected, all attachments from people you know which you had no reason to expect (and the message content doesn't sound like them and provide a reason they should be sending an attachment) should be considered infected (your friends account could be compromised), any emails referring to you by "valued friend" "customer" "user" "account holder" rather than a name or pseudonym you use should be considered unworthy of reply even if you know they are legit (if someone can't be bothered to know who you are, you can't be bothered to respond) they are also almost always scams, no links in emails should be followed unless you know the sender well, he has a good reason to send you a link and he sounds like himself in the message.


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#9 Guest_PhoenixRisen_*

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 06:15 PM

My delay in responding is caused by an insanely busy schedule. That, plus the fact that the analogy from Animal is tough to rebut.



#10 Guest_PhoenixRisen_*

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Posted 19 October 2014 - 02:27 PM

The analogy "...a knife in a hands of a chef or surgeon is a good thing. In the hands of a criminal, something entirely different. It's all about what your intentions are with the 'tool'." is far too close to the analogy "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

 

I remain unconvinced that my original premise is correct.



#11 Animal

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 03:19 PM

Guns do kill people and other living things. Thats their basic function. Yes they can be used for target practice too. But that is a secondary activity brought about by the person using the weapon. But a gun lying there untouched by an outside force can't. Same thing with a knife.

It's still intent of the person wielding the tool/weapon. Knives can and do kill but thats not the only purpose for them. Much like torrenting applications. Everyone gets all excited when torrent apps are mentioned. But they have a legitimate purpose. Knives are necessary to be a chef or surgeon or boatswain mate as examples. So there are legitimate uses for knives.

Nearly anything that has powerful implications can be distorted by the person using it. Then turn it into something quite bad, destructive or even lethal.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
Andrew Brown (1938-1994)


A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." Douglas Adams (1952-2001)


"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world." Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


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#12 rp88

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 05:28 PM

Practically every technology has both peaceful and violent potential uses, there is no weapon that can't be used for a civilised purpose, and no peaceful too that can't be repurposed for war. List as many weapons technologies as you like, i can point to civilian tehcnologies that have come from them, list as many peaceful technologies as you like and someone can think of ways to use them maliciously. The people who make the technologies should never be blamed for the uses, even those inventors and scienetists working on things thye know to be weapons have good reason to think either

A ) that the damage the new technology can do as a weapon is outweighed by the good it can do when altered for other applications

or

B ) that the weapon is so terrifying that it should prevent wars by making enemies unwilling to provoke the country, for fear of it being used on them and also prevent wars by making the country developing it too scared to use it upon others


The internet is a technology like everything else, and those who use it use it for their own individual ends. Good people use it to do more good, bad people use it to do more evil, most people use it and don't even consider the full possibilites it opens up(or the skill and genius of those who developed it). That is the human tendency, it has never changed, it will never change. What matters is ensuring the existence of a situation where it is in the interest of all individuals to do good, where the same stratergy that improves things from your perspective also betters the lives of many others. but until such a system can be developed(if it can ever be developed), because it will take hard work to find ways of making humans want to co-operate even when there are things that will always divide them, there will always be those nasty few who exploit recent technologies to harm others.

Edited by rp88, 20 October 2014 - 05:30 PM.

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#13 Guest_PhoenixRisen_*

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 10:42 PM

Animal, the last line of your most recent post is conclusive. 

 

"Nearly anything that has powerful implications can be distorted by the person using it. Then turn it into something quite bad, destructive or even lethal."

 

The words nearly, anything, and something are modifiers that tend to obfuscate. As for distort, how far can one distort?

 

My point is that on ethical or moral issues like the one raised in the initial post, there is no correct position other than the individual right to choose a position.



#14 Animal

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Posted 21 October 2014 - 01:20 PM

"The words nearly, anything, and something are modifiers that tend to obfuscate."

My intent with using those words was not to obfuscate. By using words that do not imply absolutes was intended to mean I don't know everything. It's more than likely there is something I'm unaware of or mistaken about. If I've learned anything it's that there is quite often an exception to every absolute. So I tend to avoid the always and nevers when discussing broad implication topics. Because with as wide of an audience that Bleeping Computer reaches. Someone somewhere will have evidence of an exception to the scenario under discussion if discussed in absolute terms.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
Andrew Brown (1938-1994)


A learning experience is one of those things that say, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that." Douglas Adams (1952-2001)


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#15 buddy215

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 03:03 PM

For what it is worth....I have email accounts....all online.....Yahoo, Hotmail/ Outlook, Gmail

I have no ads in any of them. I simply use Firefox exclusively and set up Adblock Plus and NoScript to block all from installing

and being seen. Blocking Third Party/ Ad/ Tracking cookies probably helps, too.

Of course, I have no control over what ads if any may be displayed on the receiving end. I do have a bright red signature in my

Hotmail/ Outlook warning Do not click on any links below.  Which is what I use primarily for email.

 

It may have already been said but worth repeating....The number one rule is to NEVER open an email if the sender is unknown and

NEVER open an attachment until you have confirmed what the attachment contains and the email has been verified as legit and not

from an obfuscated address.


Edited by buddy215, 27 October 2014 - 03:04 PM.

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”




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