Tag Archives: virus

LinkedIn Spamming Strangers in Your Name


Last night, a friend of mine asked me if LinkedIn auto-generated “invitations to connect” to complete strangers that matched their (LinkedIn’s) assessment of connections he might be interested in. I had to admit that this is something I’d never wondered….so I had no answer. However, I have noticed a significant increase in invitations from people I do not know. In my case, I have spent a lot of time on LinkedIn over the past year building a new network. I am changing industries, so all my previous LinkedIn connections were only moderately helpful in making the contacts I need to make. I send out around 100 invitations a month, so when I started receiving random invitations from people in this new industry, I just assumed it was tied to my increased activity.

But here is the piece of the story I did not tell you. My friend, a CEO of a small semiconductor company, just assumed that people wanted to connect to him due to his executive status in the high tech industry. He noticed the increase in random invitations but assumed that it was related to increased job hunting activities, now that the economy has started to pickup. That is, however, until he received an invitation to connect to himself.  It was then that he started to question if he was getting a flurry of requests to connect which were generated by LinkedIn based on his profile and on the profiles of people he was connecting to.

I did a quick Google search on “does linkedin automatically send invitations” to discover a LinkedIn discussion started on February 9 of this year. There was outrage being expressed over LinkedIn doing exactly this. Most of the respondents in this discussion indicated that they were careful about who they sent invitations to and from whom they accepted invitations.

Mystery solved. LinkedIn will generate invitations for you to people they think you might want to be connected to.

I do not have the same concern, as some people do, about connecting to people I may not know. I am essentially in sales, and you are probably not going to make much of a business by only selling to people you know. What concerns me is that LinkedIn has decided to do this without telling us. They are essentially “telemarketing” to LinkedIn members, under our name and LinkedIn profile, without our ever knowing.

Isn’t this what a virus does?

Good luck and Godspeed!


The Palantír

For those of you familiar with Lord of the Rings, you will recall the scene where the always feckless Pippin looks into the “seeing stone”, the Palantir, was transfixed and then rescued by Gandalf.

” ‘So this is the thief!’ said Gandalf. Hastily he cast his cloak over the globe where it lay. ‘But you, Pippin! This is a grievous turn to things!’ He knelt by Pippin’s body; the hobbit was lying on his back, rigid, with unseeing eyes staring up at the sky. ‘The devilry! What mischief has he done – to himself, and to all of us?’ The wizard’s face was drawn and haggard.”

A similar scene played out in my life this week concerning malware and my 91 year old mother. OK, it is not the end of the world as we know it, but the ability of malware to infect computers and wreak havoc can feel that way sometimes.

She received a fairly standard piece of suspicious email (the latest one going around….I see it about twice a day) from a “trusted friend” so she clicked on the link. After that, everyone she has ever emailed received the same email from her computer.

She was astonished that I was not fooled. After all, the email came from my own mother and the message said “wow this is crazy you should give it a look.” The fact that “wow this is crazy” does not sound at all like my 91 year old mother was a clue, however, I get so many of these sorts of emails every week, spotting them has become instinctive. It is probably because my email address is all over the place. I am on dozens of job hunter email lists and I exchange emails with bunches of people I barely know.

My mother asked me how I size up an email as being suspicious, so I sent her the following:

1) Does not call me by name. Just has a call to action such as “You really need to see this”

2) Tone is too familiar from someone I do not know. “Hey, I am rolling on the floor laughing at this picture of you on the internet”

3) Tone is too excited or threatening. It appears that it is trying to get me to click on a link instinctively. “Your email account has been hacked. You must verify your account immediately or we will close it in 24 hours”

4) The email is one sentence pointing me to a web page.

5) There is nothing in the subject line

6) The language is awkward like a non-native English speaker wrote it.”Please to verify your order placed that we are to be shipping soon”

7) I have seen the same email before

Essentially, any time someone sends me a link to a web page or sends me a file to open, I am cautious. If they want me to click on anything, they’d better call me by name and give me a little bit of detail. A short note like “Good article” or “You might find this useful” is not enough.

Make sure you give me enough detail that it shows that you know me. “Good article about what recruiters look for in a resume” is only enough information to motivate me to write you back to verify. “James, If you missed this article on LinkedIn, it is worth reading. A lot of it is what Dirk Spencer already told us, but this adds some details on what recruiters look for in a resume.” That is enough information that I will click the link to read the article.

In today’s world, you just can not click links or open files that people email you. There are no trusted people. Viruses get on their computer and they will never know it. Or, viruses will get on Tom’s computer, look up people in his email account, then send the email out with Mary’s name on it. Mary’s computer is not infected. Tom’s computer is infected, but the virus makes the email look like it is coming from Mary’s computer. Or, the virus will infect the Yahoo or Gmail computers. Your computer might be clean, but the virus is sending email from the Yahoo computer and making it look like it is coming from your computer.

With social media, the trickery has been going on for a few years.  On LinkedIn, the worst I have seen is simple spam. Some stranger from Bangalore or Shenzhen wants to LinkIn with me. I accept and they start spamming me with various sales pitches. LinkedIn makes it easy to tag the message as spam and that tends to stop it quickly.

On Twitter, I get messages about the funny picture of me on the internet that has some stranger rolling on the floor laughing. A more interesting Twitter ploy is a mention from someone I am not following and who is not following me. Occasionally I click the “@ connect” button to see who has mentioned one of my tweets. About once a month, I see something like “@JSnid fhq4.co.cc/rgm7.” I check the Twitter account of the person mentioning my Twitter handle only to see that they have zero followers and are following zero people. Strange. Don’t click!

I get invitations to connect on Facebook and Google+ from strangers from foreign lands….not interested. Don’t accept.

Frankly, I am real tired of malware.  Am I wrong here? I would love to see the G7 propose a million dollar bounty for the capture and conviction of people who write and release all forms of spyware, viruses, trojans, worms…all malware in general.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama….are you listening? I think we have a real vote getter here.

Good Luck and Godspeed.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

LinkedIn Virus….almost

A person asked me a question today about a LinkedIn invitation. A stranger, who belonged to one of his LinkedIn groups, sent him an invitation to connect. As is usual with LinkedIn invitations, the invitation came to him via email. When he clicked on the “accept” option, he became suspicious that the email was not generated by LinkedIn but was generated by a spammer or some insidious malware. Unfortunately, I had to inform him that his suspicions were correct. His computer has been compromised.

This is a fairly recent development with LinkedIn. I first heard about it about 3 months ago from Jim Frinak, a fellow “Social Media Hands-on Lab” coach. The way to avoid this is pretty straight forward. NEVER accept an invitation via email. ALWAYS log into LinkedIn and check your “Inbox” for invitations. ONLY accept invitations which come from your Inbox on LinkedIn.

These malefactors are always trying to find a way to get to you. You have to keep your guard up. So far, I have not heard about any viruses that snuck into and are being spread by the LinkedIn web site, but it is only a matter of time. Each week I receive spam from gmail accounts and the spam is being generated from viruses on the gmail servers. The spam comes from accounts of people who do not download email to their computers and who scan their computers frequently for viruses. If Google can not keep malware out, do not expect LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or the rest to succeed.

I have seen several articles on this virus, dating from last summer (2010). Here is an example http://www.bnet.com/blog/businesstips/fake-linkedin-requests-how-to-spot-them/8563

The only thing I would disagree with, is his thought about accepting a LinkedIn invitation from someone he does not know. I am in business development (sales). I meet a lot of people each week. I am careful about “linking in” with people, but still accept invitations from strangers. I do a little screening first. For more information on the rules  I follow, here is a post I did on that: Take The Drama Out of LinkedIn Invitations.

James Snider
Business Development Director

Corporate Marketing Department…one hour at a time

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How stupid do you think I am?

OK, I get some spam as a job seeker and as an email user. Some of the spam targeting me as a job seeker is pretty slick. I have become a little harder to fool….but still….some of these shysters are pretty convincing.

However, today I got what must be one of the worst email scams I’ve ever seen.

This is to inform you that we are of current plan to upgrade our Email Account and You have to confirm and upgrade your account by replying to this mail with your user name(…..) and password(…..) for confirmation of account

This came from an email account labeled “Account Update” which shows up as  <e-puentes@sbcglobal.net>. I have to figure that:
a) e-puentes is NOT very gifted in the “scamming” department
b) e-puentes is the victim of a virus using his or her email account to send out this scam

In any event, I am insulted more than irritated. How stupid do they  think I am!?!?!

By the way, anyone else winning 750,000.00 GBP every day? What is a “GBP” anyway?

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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