Making the Most of the Internet - Blog


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Barclays Phishing Scams Start Again


It must be hell being the Managing Director of Barclays.

Barclays seems to be attacked all the time by criminals. And much more than other banks. Why? Is the security bad? Or is it so good, they just keep trying to beat it as they've beaten everybody else? Or is it just because they're the largest Internet bank.

I did send a letter to the MD, but he didn't reply. Does it show what he thinks of customers?

Anyway today I've received over 60 phishing e-mails aimed at Barclays. All point at which is based in Russia. Do Barclays have their Internet servers there? I don't think so.

As I've said before don't bank with any Internet bank for which you get phishing attacks. You might just make a mistake.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Are Barclays Phishing Scams Going To Start Again?


I have just received a phishing e-mail purporting to come from Barclays. Incidentally, I haven't received any for some weeks.

It doesn't come from Barclays of course, but it points to a web site called which was registered in Pakistan on the 19th of July.

Now shouldn't Barclays have registered this name themselves.

This is another reason why I son't trust their on-line banking.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Spysoftcentral Fake E-Mails


I received forty e-mail purporting to come from When I receive this number of identical e-mails then I know it's a fake.

The image shows the first part of the e-mail. E-Mail

It is a fake.

A few points :-

1. It has nothing to do with and no money has been removed from your bank account.

2. The attachment of the e-mail is the real problem. It is a virus and opening it will call you damage.

3. One e-mail address received seventeen copies of the e-mail.

4. I got no e-mails to any e-mail addresses I regularly use.

5. The e-mail starts Dear Madame/Sir. Have you ever received a letter from anyone who uses such a greeting? We may not be MCPs, but we do put Sir first!

6. Every e-mail is the same.

7. Etc. etc.

I've just sent a complaint e-mail to It'll be interesting what they say.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Internet Gambling


In the book, I said this about gambling and gaming.

This is becoming one of the largest and most important sections of the Internet. Just look at how many football teams are sponsored by on-line gambling companies!

Some of the sites are also some of the most pointless.

For instance, what sane person would spend hours playing fruit machines on the Internet. We all know that there can only be one winner.

But on the other hand, I do bet on horses using a betting exchange on the Internet. Here you can play punter or bookmaker as you want and you test your judgement against others.

We will see tremendous growth in Internet gambling and gaming over the next few years.

Some like the Americans will try and stop it, mainly to protect their own gambling industry in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They will fail!
Today saw an interesting news story with the arrest of David Carruthers, the CEO of BetOnSports, in Dallas.

This is only a minor skirmish in a war that the Americans will lose.

Large gambling markets will develop outside of the US, just as they are starting to develop in the UK, with the help of a friendly government. Remember that at present only a few percent of gambling is on-line. These companies will become very powerful and and good ones will be respected, offering bets on anything you like anywhere in the world. They will also develop interesting proxy methods so that anybody can gamble from anywhere in the world, just like the Chinese people have, so they can view pornographic web sites like the BBC, which their own government bans.

Suppose the Americans decided to prosecute any employee of an on-line gambling company, who set foot in the US. Or they tried to use the one-way fast-track process to extradite the NatWest 3. It would not be long before, America would be getting more hatred than it currently does now with Iraq, global warming, GM foods, the death penalty and lots of other issues, where it is on the different side of the fence to the rest of the world.

That would not change the minds of the American government.

However, the best casino brands names from Las Vegas, who would see their market shrinking fast, would make sure that mind was changed.

After all how long would some of the on-line gambling companies survive, if they had to compete directly with proven Las Vegas operators?


Kids and the Internet


I'm 60 next year, with three grown-up children and three grandchildren.

The real problem is that people of my age, who are often in positions of responsibility deny what they used to get up to when they were children.

Living in Cockfosters, we all knew then that Hadley Wood was teeming with all sorts of perverts. We all knew which shops to avoid, because the owner would try and trap you behind the counter and only last week I spoke to someone, who remembered all the men in raincoats, who used to turn up and watch the kids play cricket.

So we all have a lot of experience and knowledge! But we don't apply it!

None of us ever told our parents about what went on and today the average ten to fifteen year old will not tell his or her parents anything.

We need to break that taboo!

The best way is that most parents know much less than their kids about the Internet. So if you have say an interest in Aston Villa, then ask your child to help you to find out the latest gossip and perhaps meet sad new friends. All children love teaching their parents and others how to do things. So use their knowledge positively.

Only by exploring the good parts of the Internet together and realising how you can avoid the bad and criminal parts of it, will children be protected from predators, and parents and others from some of the insidious scams, such as phishing and the other frauds.

So do it together!


The World's Least Professional Spam E-Mail


I received this message a few days ago.

World's Least Professional Spam

I think that anybody who bought anything from the site mentioned would need to have their head examined by a psychiatrist.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Is This the End of Bank Phishing E-Mails?


This note is a follow up to my previous note on Bank Phishing scams of the 1st of June. You can see from the graph below, that it appeared that the attacks on Barclays (in blue) and their customers may have stopped.

Bank Phishing E-Mails - Click for large

The graph shows all bank phishing scams I have received from the 5th of May until the 16th of July to about ten different web domain names. The banks shown are in order; Barclays, Co-Operative Bank, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide BS, PayPal, Foreign and Others. Colours are shown in the legend above the graph.

Phishing scams are where you are sent a fake e-mail and asked to enter your username, password and other details into a fake web site. If you do enter your details, your bank account is quickly emptied.

The graph shows some interesting patterns :-

1. Barclays have received the highest number of messages and the fiercest attacks for some time, but I have only had a couple of messages in the last four weeks.

2. There have been significant attacks on the Co-Operative Bank, Nationwide BS and Lloyds TSB. Analysis of these messages shows they could have been sent by the same group.

3. For the last ten days, there has not been more than a couple of messages each day. Most have been amateurish and aimed at a varied selection of banks.

The question that has to be asked is have we reached the end of this type of phishing scam?

If this is so, where will the criminals attack next?

A note is now available for downloading and distribution which gives full details.

Is This the End of Bank Phishing E-Mails?

Feel free to read and distribute as you require.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Enfield Rolling Mills


This company, often called ERM for short, at Brimsdown on the Lee Valley in Enfield was my father’s biggest customer. Strangely in recent years, we have met, Ray Agnew, one of the people there that dealt with my father. I learned a lot about how my father worked to create sophisticated stationery for unusual applications.

I also worked there during three vacations from school in the electronics and instrument department. It was an interesting grounding for what I have done since. It is rather a pity that kids today don’t get the opportunity as easily as I did all those years ago, as all experience is valuable.

One of the jobs I did at ERM in the mid 1960s, was to investigate the detection of small ferrous inclusions in copper wire. This is important as inclusions damage wire drawing machines and also increase the electrical resistance. I was able to detect micro-gram particles with ease. It surprises me that with more modern techniques, we can’t do better than we do to detect knives and guns!

But then I got the job because my father phoned the excellent and much admired John Grimston and asked! So if you want something for yourself or your family a well structured approach can often get the right results.

This company as the name suggests rolled and formed copper, aluminium, bronze and other non-ferrous metals. To me it was an engineer’s paradise, as I used to walk around fitting instruments on to fearsome machines that squeezed and pressed hot and sometimes cold metal into any number of shapes. I can still see images in my mind of men catching hot copper wire in tongs and turning it on the wiremill. That was extremely skilful and highly dangerous.

Interestingly, that wiremill had been taken from Krupp as reparations after the First World War, to setup ERM. It still had the Krupp symbol of three interlocked railway tyres in the castings that held the rolls. The company logo for ERM was four interlocked rings, so they even took that as well!

But Enfield Rolling Mills was also part of one of my worst gaffs!

Their phone number was Howard 1255 or 1266. (I can’t actually remember which, but the story works both ways!) I was about thirteen and was setting some type for my father. I needed some 5’s so I borrowed them from the Enfield Rolling Mills letterhead that was always setup in a chaise ready for printing. I stupidly replaced them with 6’s. What I should have done was put the 6’s in upside down so the replacement was obvious.

Luckily they were spotted before the letterhead was used again. It was one of the few times my father ever seriously told me off.

I have always been pedantic and very careful since. Perhaps, that is why I have been such a good programmer.


Bank Phishing E-Mails


Keep it quiet, but it does seem that most bank phishing e-mails seem to have stopped.

In the last few days, I have had very few. All seem poor uncoordinated and perhaps one or two at each bank targetted.

Let's hope this is the end of this scam.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Outlook 2003 Junk E-Mail Options


The Junk E-mail filter in Outlook 2003 is very good and works well to cut out most of the junk e-mail you receive. There are various levels that can be set and there are lots of options to both include and exclude certain e-mail addresses, domains, countries and languages.

A Junk E-Mail Options

The image shows the junk e-mail options control in Outlook 2003. It is called from the Junk E-mail command in the Actions menu of the program.

Shown is first set of options, which set the general level of protection against junk e-mail.

Note :-

1. The filter is set to Low which handles most situations successfully.

2. Other settings are much stricter but may cause more problems by classifying real e-mails as junk.

3. ‘Permanently delete suspected junk e-mail’ is not checked, as this allows occasional mistakes to be easily corrected.

4. The last option is checked as this protects against unsafe and fraudulent sites.

Experiment with the settings, so that they give the protection you require.

A Junk E-Mail Options

The second image shows the Safe Senders list, displayed by clicking the appropriate tab.

Note :-

1. This dialog is very comprehensive and you can add, edit and remove e-mail addresses.

2. You can also import and export these addresses to and from file.

3. Check boxes allow your contacts to be treated as safe and to automatically add anybody you e-mail.

Two other tabs, Safe Recipients and Blocked Senders are similar to Safe Senders. The last tab, International, allows blocking of certain countries and language types.

The Junk E-mail Options dialog in Outlook 2003 give a full set of options that in nearly all cases can make sure that your junk e-mail is reduced to a minimum, without any adverse affects.

A note is now available for downloading and distribution which gives full details.

Outlook 2003 Junk E-Mail Options

Feel free to read and distribute as you require.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Letter to Barclays


On the 9th of June I wrote the following letter to John Varley, the Chief Executive of Barclays Bank about the phishing attacks on their bank.

Why I Won’t Use Barclays On-Line Banking

I have been a computer professional for the last forty years and in that time I’ve created two world class businesses.

For the last ten years I’ve been involved with the Internet, in the analysis of its use and misuse, with respect to promotion of companies, development of software, eCommerce and fraud. Since the beginning of 2001, I’ve shown increasing interest in the so-called phishing scams and have collected an extensive database.

All of this knowledge is soon to be published in a book called Making the Most of the Internet. The various frauds and scams form a large part.

Around the 19th of May, I thought that Barclays had finally removed the curse of phishing scams that have affected it for many years. The enclosed chart shows how I used to receive about fifty of these scams every day on the e-mail traps I have set. But since about the 3rd of June they have started again!

It puzzles me why Barclays is being singled out in this way! Is it because they are the largest on-line Bank? Is it because scams against Barclays are more likely to succeed?

I would certainly not bank on-line with any on-line bank that was being attacked in this way.
I have not received a reply.

Perhaps this sums up their attitude to phishing attacks. I shall be moving my Woolwich account elsewhere.

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