Ro’bots’ Are So Yesterday–It’s Just ‘Bots’ Now

Want some scary statistics for Halloween? In the first six months of 2005, the average number of “phishing” e-mails went from about 3 million to more than 5½ million, according to the Symantec, distributor and licensor, among other things, of firewall and virus protection software. Phishing, in case you’ve missed the news, is a scam which uses e-mail to spoof legitimate businesses such as banks and airlines, and attempts to entice you to enter personal data which can then be used by criminals. “Update your account” or “Your Security May Have Been Compromised and We Need You to Verify Your Password” are typical messages, often accompanied by logos and names that appear to be all too real.

Symantec also discovered 1,862 new software vulnerabilities, over the six month period—almost all moderate to high security threats and 60 percent were in Web-based applications. Symantec also found that the average number of denial-of-service attacks jumped from 119 to 927 a day during the first half of 2005. Why the increase? Personal computers are being overwhelmed with “bots”—penetrating vulnerabilities in personal computer software that allow the hackers—online criminals—to remotely control home computers. Not convinced? By monitoring customers and their networks the numbers of active bots more than doubled from 4,348 to 10,352 bot computers. The SANS Internet Storm Center, a not-for-profit organization that tracks hacking trends, detects an average of 260,000 bots each day that are out there looking for computers that are vulnerable to attack. No longer limited to “denial of service” attacks by triggering junk data to attack—and ultimately overwhelm—a legitimate website, these bots now are beginning to be used to generate SPAM and malicious code.

100% Legal = 100% Deceptive

What if you offer a tutorial service that teaches how to use peer-to-peer file-sharing programs and refers members to P2P networks but doesn’t actually license file-sharing programs, and doesn’t operate a file-sharing network itself? Sounds like it would be tough to prove copyright infringement—the Grokster case notwithstanding.

But what if you advertise that by becoming a member, subscribing and paying a fee, your P2P file-sharing is legal. “PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING SUED FOR USING OUR SOFTWARE. YES! IT IS 100% LEGAL,” or “Rest assured that File-Sharing is 100% legal.” What if customers are deceived into thinking that by becoming a member, P2P file-sharing is legal? Remember, when anyone uses a P2P file-sharing program to download copyrighted material, or to make that material available to others without the copyright owner’s permission, it’s copyright infringement. Well the FTC has charged Cashier Myricks Jr., doing business as, with deceptive advertising by falsely claiming that membership in the service makes P2P file-sharing legal; and acting on the FTC’s action, a U.S. District Court judge has stopped the deceptive ads. The FTC is seeking to make the ban permanent.

Want to know more? The FTC has published “P2P File Sharing: Evaluating the Risks.” Oh, and you should also probably call Rimon…after all, we know advertising, marketing and promotion like nobody else.

KISS Technology–Don’t Just Keep It Simple, Keep It Really Simple

Did you think you just caught up to the clever marketing professionals that use search engines, click-throughs and product placement on reality TV or interactive gaming to stimulate your buying juices. Just hearing about “buzz” of viral marketing. Talk about being behind the times. A relatively new technology known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication—probably named by the same people who gave us KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid) is beginning to attract some clever marketing professionals to the web. While the technology is in its relative infancy (about five or so years old) in Internet time, adolescence—and therefore a bit of rebellion and wild times—are just ahead. RSS feeds allow individuals to aggregate information updates from web sites and blogs so they can review headlines and often a synopsis of them on a single site. You might know these programs as “news readers” or aggregators, because news and media companies already use RSS feeds to distribute summaries for their readers. Why the excitement? Well, you already know that “per-click” advertising allows advertisers to match spending with the numbers of consumers that are attracted to the advertisement—to some extent, a real-time metric of the effectiveness of any particular marketing campaign on the Internet.

What if you could more effectively target your advertising to a tailor-made-market–consumers who have expressed an interest in particular subjects. Imagine putting advertising for cameras onto an RSS web feed from a camera or lens manufacturer’s site. What if you use RSS technology to keep up to date on the latest entries in the automotive marketplace—and an advertiser puts auto advertising on the feeds. Not only is RSS feed advertising cheaper, but marketers can also target precisely those consumers who may be predisposed—or have expressed an interest—in the market for those products or services!

While RSS technology is still to be refined, consumers who are overwhelmed with the volume of data floating around the Internet have turned to more refined search engines and tools which help them self-select what they do and do not see. RSS technology is a natural outgrowth of that need, and as programs become more user-friendly, the marketing community is beginning to take notice. Did you really think you could rest easy having mastered ad-ware, spy ware, phishing, SPAM, cookies and banners, and such arcane terms that hearken back to the Jurassic age? The times they are always a’ changing. Keep an eye out for RSS—it’s coming to a news feed near you.