Stupidest Spam of the Week Exotic Seeds

The world of gardening and flower creation can be competitive with people chasing down exotic looking flowers and vegetables and keeping secret anything they do find.

But there are also scammers in this market who create fake photos and videos of exotic looking fruits for example blue strawberries and sell the seeds at a high price.

There are no seeds as the fruit does not exist, but it is a simple game to colour fruit artificially or fake pictures on Photoshop to make plants look strange and then sell ordinary seeds at a very high price to unsuspecting punters.

Most of these fakes come from China and Hong Kong currently.

Don’t buy ridiculous looking fruits, vegetables or other plants. Stick with what you can get in the local garden centre or if on the Internet then only buy from reputable dealers with a long track record of sales and happy customers.

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Grand Committee For Disinformation

Jim Balsillie addressed the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News in Dublin and raised lot of points of concern and some possible solutions.

Jim believes that the current business model of the tech giants Is the root cause of the problem. That the data they have on us gives technology unprecedented power and has serious consequences when improperly used.

Whistle blowers inside platform companies told the committee “the dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will.” That is why we need to outlaw the current business model and re-introduce responsible monetization, such as subscription-based models. Strategic regulations are needed to cut off the head of this snake says Jim.

 

Jim submitted the following six recommendations for consideration by the committee:

  1. Eliminate tax deductibility for personalized online ads: Taxes create powerful incentives. We need to zero in on the core problem: the attention-based advertisement-driven business model. Subscription business models are much less prone to poisonous manipulation, so tax incentives must encourage responsible business models. This approach will weaken the incentive for political leaders to protect social media companies for the purposes of political gain.

 

2. Ban personalized political advertising: Online platforms continue to master behaviour modification. We are dealing with the largest, most centralized form of attention control in human history. This kind of tool for manipulation should not be for sale to the highest bidder during elections.

 

3. Implement strict data governance regulations for political parties: We must apply comprehensive privacy regulations to political parties regarding personally identifiable information. Further, we should require transparency of all commercial and technical relationships between political parties and social media companies.

 

4. Provide effective whistle blower protections: Some of the most valuable information the public has learned about the abuse of data has come from brave whistle blowers. Today’s technology companies are the most secretive businesses in the world with unprecedented and aggressive non-disclosure agreements for their workforce. Make sure whistle blower protection extends to both private sector and governmental activities.

 

5. Add explicit personal liability alongside corporate responsibility to affect executive and board of director decision-making: We must require annual signed certifications from chief executives and board members, similar to what is required for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. This 2002 act was designed to better protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures in the wake of various accounting scandals. When a senior executive or board member must affix their name to a document that has personal liability, this immediately changes behaviour to one of greater prudence and caution. Explicit personal liability will also help with tech executives who lie to or deliberately confuse lawmakers.

 

6. Create a new institution for like-minded nations to address digital cooperation and stability: The data-driven economy’s effects cannot be contained within national borders. New approaches to international coordination and enforcement are critical as policymakers develop new frameworks to preserve competitive markets and democratic systems that evolved over centuries under profoundly different technological conditions. We have arrived at a new Bretton Woods moment. We need new or reformed rules of the road for digitally mediated global commerce — a World Trade Organization 2.0. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Financial Stability Board was created to foster global financial cooperation and stability. A similar global institution, a Digital Stability Board, is needed to deal with the challenges posed by digital transformation.

 

Would these plans create a fairer environment for both online platforms and their customers and not concentrate the power in a few hands?

That’s hard to answer but something needs to be done and quickly.

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Instant Company Rebadged Product

This is about how companies can suddenly appear and have new “fantastic” products at bargain prices.

In the UK as long as you haven’t been banned as a director then it’s an easy, cheap and quick process to register a new company. In some countries it’s even easier and people can churn out new companies as fast as they want.

Making a New Product

Inventors and designers may spend years perfecting their product, but the simple approach is to find a product that already exists, rebadge it in some way – maybe just a different colour scheme. Then you give it a new name and that’s your new product. There are patent protection laws to prevent this but scammers operate quickly and aim to have disappeared before the law catches up with them.

Lots of companies (mostly in China) will manufacture anything you want at very low prices. If it’s an item they already make and you just want a different colour or a version with your logo on – no problem.

Then comes the Marketing. Modern Marketing through email lists, social media etc. can be cheap and quick.

The Reality

The method described above is very simplified of course and it’s not really this simple, but for people who do this regularly it is quick and easy.

Here’s an example.

An email arrived titled ‘Cleaning Scrubber Works for Arthritis”

Then a sales pitch for the Hurricane Spin Scrubber.

It’s a rechargeable device with a rotating head designed to make cleaning bathroom surfaces quicker and with less effort. It comes with an extending arm so the user doesn’t have to bend down – hence the claim that it helps arthritis sufferers.

Sounds good.

Strangely the email is from diabetichlp.bid although this product cannot be considered to be an aid for people with diabetes.

Following up on this shows that the product is real and does work. However, customers complain about faulty items, the difficulty of getting any money back and terrible customer service. The product itself is very cheaply made and generally not very good. The company selling this product only came into existence months ago and if the pattern is followed then is likely to disappear fairly soon, to be replaced by another similar company with a slightly modified version of the device. Then the process starts again.

Buying this kind of product may be right for you, but be aware that if there are problems – you may wish you’d invested in a reputable make with good customer service.

If you’ve purchased this kind of instant product or dealt with such companies – do let me know by email.

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Government Cyber Security Centre

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is part of the United Kingdom Government and provides advice and support for the public and private sector in how to avoid computer security threats. It became operational in October 2016, and its parent organisation is GCHQ.

“Helping to make the UK the safest place to live and work online”.

“NCSC support the most critical organisations in the UK, the wider public sector, industry, SMEs as well as the general public. When incidents do occur, we provide effective incident response to minimise harm to the UK, help with recovery, and learn lessons for the future”.

More specifically, the NCSC:

  • understands cyber security, and distils this knowledge into practical guidance made available to all
  • responds to cyber security incidents to reduce the harm caused to organisations and the wider UK
  • uses industry and academic expertise to nurture the UK’s cyber security capability
  • reduces risks to the UK by securing public and private sector networks

 

Year Three Highlight Statistics

  • Handled 658 incidents
  • Provided support to almost 900 victim organisations
  • Produced 154 threat assessments
  • Took down 177,335 phishing URLs, 62.4% of which were removed within 24 hours
  • 8 million visitors to the NCSC’s website
  • Added more than 5,000 new members onto the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership
  • Produced 108,411 physical items for 170 customers through the UK Key Production Authority
  • Produced 34 pieces of guidance and 69 blogs
  • Awarded 14,234 Cyber
    Essentials certificates
  • Enabled 2,886 small businesses across the UK to do simulated cyber exercising for themselves
  • Challenged 11,802 girls in the 2019 CyberFirst Girls Competition
  • Engaged with 2,614 students on the NCSC’s CyberFirst courses
  • Supported 250 extra teaching hours of computer science across 4 schools through Cyber Schools Hub activities
  • Delivered, along with sector and law enforcement partners, cyber security awareness and training sessions to more than 2,700 charities 20 countries visited by the NCSC Welcomed visiting delegations from 56 countries Hosted 197 events, with more than 9,000 attendees

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