Not Always As It Seems? – The Modern Online ‘Scam’

Many, if not all, of us will be familiar with online scams.  From the ‘you’ve won the lottery scams’ right through to the fact that Gadaffi’s fortunes have been left in the hands of a solicitor who wants to give you $20 million just because he’s a nice kind of guy.  E-mail scams have been going on for a long, long time.  But is there a new way that we are getting scammed online?  A way that we don’t realise we are getting scammed?

Well unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes.  And most of the time we might not be aware that we are getting scammed.  It can often go undetected due to the fact that they aren’t targeting our money – rather they are targeting our time (to get others money ultimately).  Let’s explain…..

The Traditional Online Scam

The traditional online scam.  To all intents and purposes, it is as old as the Internet itself.  With e-mail scanning becoming more prevalent and online users becoming more wary, scammers are needing to stay ahead of the game.  After traditional online scams have been exploited for over two decades they are bar far less effective than they used to be.  And the future looks like the success of these traditional scams will likely to continue to decrease.

But scammers still need to scam – it’s what they do.  So what they need is a new scam…..

The Modern Online Scam

That brings us on to the modern online scam.  A scam which isn’t really covered anywhere else and isn’t widely known about.  Dare I say, very few people will probably be aware of it (to its full extent).

A major flaw of the traditional online scam is that sooner or later it becomes obvious that financially, you’ve lost out – whether it be cloned cards used for fake withdrawals or fraudulent online transactions.  Ultimately, quite detectable.

So logic would dictate that to make the crime less, or undetectable, we remove the missing money element.  However, then how would the scammer gain from the scam?

If there was some way that they could leave the person ‘scammed’ with their finances intact but indirectly use them to obtain money for the scammer from third parties.  An ingenius theory – but how to pull it off?  In the offline world, something like this would be impossible to pull off.  But as many people learn on a daily basis, pretty much anything is possible online.

How Does It Work?

Right, lets get to the nitty gritty of how this works.  The people being ‘scammed’ = Internet users – however these aren’t the ones who financially lose out.  The Internet users are in effect being used to scam third parties, usually affiliate advertising programs, of their money without the knowledge of the user.  In essence its all legitimate – I guess it would come down to how you define ‘scam’ as to whether you class it as a scam, dishonesty or just plain immoral.

Let’s explain with a simple example.

In our theoretical world DPS Computing launches ‘DPS Keyboards’.  Now these aren’t just any keyboards – they are the most amazing keyboards in the world…. ever!  Not only do they work in the way that a traditional keyboard works but they also many other special things that makes them completely irresistible.  Needless to say that everybody in the world wants a DPS Keyboard – priced at £99.99 (told you it was amazing!).

Now, in our theoretical world their is a scammer, called Bob.  Bob wants to make money online.  Bob notices that there is loads of media attention surrounding DPS Keyboards and that everyone in the world wants one.  Bob capitalises on this.  He sets up a website.  The topic of his website?  Well, that’d be ‘COMPLETELY FREE DPS Keyboards’.  Wow, Bob must be rich……..

Bob sets up his ‘COMPLETELY FREE DPS Keyboards’ website and places loads of affiliate ads all over the pages from many different ad providers (Adsense for example).

Everyone all over the world is searching for DPS Keyboards, and Bobs page, over the course of a few weeks, quickly rises to the top of the search rankings – who wouldn’t be interested in a £99.99 amazing keyboard for free?

Everyone goes on Bobs website, registers for their free keyboards, looks at other pages on there, maybe even clicks on an ad or two.

Everyone excitedly waits for their free DPS Keyboard.  It doesn’t turn up.

So back to Bobs website, have a browse, try to contact him, find an e-mail address, contact him and while on Bobs site have a little more browsing for answers (again viewing more ads and clicking on a couple).

Fast forward a year….. and no one has their free DPS Keyboards.  However, Bob has been making a nice little earning on the side from all the extra revenue he has created.  But how?  He was giving the keyboards away for free – he wasn’t getting any card details.

True, true.  However, what he was doing was getting people to his website viewing ads when each page load and also clicking on some of them.  All of this will have been making money for Bob.  That in itself isn’t the ‘scam’ part of it…. that’s completely legitimate.  But for the fact that……

Bob never had any DPS Keyboards.  And he certainly never intended to give any of them away for free.  What he did was pick a popular topic that loads of people were searching for and made an irresistible offer – in this case an expensive item for free.  There was no intention to actually go through with what was on offer – just the intention of having you browse lots of pages and click lots of ads on a website which had lured you there under false pretences.

Now I picked an extreme example here to highlight how it works…. but there are many takes of this scam currently happening on the Internet.

Ever seen ads for ‘paid for blogging’ services?  While some are legitimate, some are just there to perpetrate this type of scam.    Everybody would like to make half a million pounds a year from blogging.  Getting paid to blog about things would be a dream come true for many people.  So, a site will spring up and get you to register with them with the promise that you’ll be sent offers x times a day and you’ll be making hundreds of pounds in no time.  Only, with the scamming sites, when you actually register you don’t receive anything.  The whole idea of the site was to pick a popular subject, lure people in, and hopefully rake in advertising revenues.

Same goes for survey websites offering £7 per survey.  Yes there are some legitimate sites that pay for you to complete surveys…. but remember there are also scam sites set up.  Always use caution and good judgement.

Remember the old saying, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  This applies on the Internet as well – maybe even more so!

Conclusion

Although the person being scammed doesn’t lose out financially, you do lose out on your time.  And if time is money….. it’s just a round about way of getting cash for the scammers.

It always pays to be vigilant on the Internet.  Do your research, know who you’re dealing with.  Look for reviews, past experiences and previous site members.  Don’t get sent down blind alleys that promise you everything and give you nothing!

If you’ve ever registered for an offer/service/competition/part time job etc online that has turned out to be nothing, other than a honeypot to lure you in so they can earn affiliates advertising money, feel free to leave a comment below.  :).  Stay safe everyone!

Does Static Content Have A Future On The Modern WWW?

Static or Dynamic?

Static content.  Once the lifeblood of the World Wide Web.  Amazing.  Now it has been relegated to something of an inconvenience.

Think back to the last truly static page you visited recently – I bet you probably can’t even think of one!  Even pages that appear to be static, generally have at least some dynamic part.

So what’s the difference between static and dynamic.

Static vs Dynamic

Static web pages are, well, static!  (Yes, sorry, I had to state the obvious!).  To go into a bit more detail though, they’re comparable to the digital equivalent of a book.  With a book, you pick it up, you read it – and to all intents and purposes that’s it, you’re done.  You can’t interact via the book with the author.  You can’t leave a comment on a page you don’t like (apart from profanity you might right in pencil on the page if that floats your boat – but that doesn’t count as everyone else with the book can’t see it in their copy!).  You can’t vote on a poll in a book.  It’s static.  Just like a static web page (basically) consists of text and, nowadays, images and multimedia.

Static pages also do include hyperlinks.  Now, some people would argue that these are a dynamic feature – as it is a response to a user action that occurs at a user defined time (i.e. the link is followed when it is clicked).  However, this would be a misconception to think of it this way.  Hyperlinks don’t make a page dynamic – they are still static – think of hyperlinks as the book equivalent of turning the page.

So What Makes a Page Dynamic?

This big questions has quite an easy answer to find.  Look around this post.  At the top right we have a search bar.  The search bar allows you to search the content of this blog.  Let’s say you want to search for cupcakes.  Now, unfortunately, we’re going to have issues here!  Due to the DPS Computing blog only covering technology and computing issues, it is with great sadness that we have to inform you that there hasn’t been any recent technological or computing discoveries due to/because of/including cupcakes (yes, I know, very tragic – we’ll keep our eyes open though! ;)).  If you type cupcakes into the search bar and then search – you get no results.

Use the same search bar to search for something techified……. like OS X – and wham bam – you’ve got results.  Believe it or not, whether you search for cupcakes or OS X the search results page is the same.

How can that be?  Well the search results page is dynamic.  So just because the search results page is the same no matter what is searched for, doesn’t mean to say that, on a dynamic page, the content of  search results page has to be the same.

Below each of our posts on DPS Computing there is a ‘comments’ box.  All registered users and visitors can post in there, share discussion and we can all see what each other is saying.  When this post is first posted, the page will load with no comments.  If someone leaves a comment, the page will then load with one comment at the bottom of the post (for everyone).  It’s the same page that has been loaded – just with different content (aka a dynamic page).

Does Static Content Have a Future?

And that introduction brings us quite nicely onto the million dollar question (yes, yes, I know it should be the million pound question but it just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!).

Does static content have a future on the Internet?  Unfortunately there isn’t just a simple yes or no answer to this question.

Static content does have a future on the Internet – but not independently.  Static content on the ‘net used to be the only type of content.  Dynamic content was still a few years off at this time – mainly due to the lack of technologies / languages available for the ‘new’ Internet that supported dynamic content, the relatively low spec of computers and the painfully slow bandwidths of Internet connections generally available (56k anyone?  How about 16.6k? ;)).  At the beginning, even (static) pictures were discouraged due to the technological restrictions.  Static content existed in its own static universe on the Internet – it lived independantly.

As time has gone on things have got more dynamic….. but the static constructs (text and images for example), still form the basic building blocks of all web pages.  But now the static content is surrounded in a dynamic shell.  A blending of the static and dynamic universes has lead to the kind of Internet we have today – useful and resourceful while interesting and interactive.

Interactivity and dynamic features and capabilities of websites are only going to continue to increase – which can only be a good thing for the Internet and its many millions of users.  However, the static features that started it all decades ago will still always form a part of the Internet and modern pages – no matter how much dynamic content grows.  The static components may become comparatively smaller, but they’ll always be there!

FREE Cloud Services for Application Developers

Cloud computing has been around for a little while but has only (relatively) recently started to ‘take off’ and be used by techies and non-techies alike.

Whether its a complex backup solution or your use of Apples iCloud, many computer users out there are now using cloud based services.

In addition, there has been a growth in cloud based services for applications – and the great news is that in line with this, the number of free cloud based services for application developers has increased.

We’ve come across a nice little article that has produced a list, accompanied by a short description, of the free cloud services that are currently available for application developers.

The main categories of cloud services for application developers that are currently available are:

  • Cloud Integrated Development Environments (IDEs).
  • Source Code Management (also known as Version Control and Source Control).
  • Issue Tracking.
  • Databases (including open source databases).
  • Content Management Systems (CMS).
  • Payment Gateways.
  • IaaS/PaaS/Code Hosting.
  • Load Testing.
  • Monitoring.
  • Knowledge Base and Helpdesk (support).
  • Web Analytics.

Although most people are aware of cloud computing, you may struggle to think of many cloud services that you use.  This could be because you are not using many cloud based services or that you are using them – you are just not aware that you are using them.  However, as a general rule, many application developers will be aware of some cloud based services.  To check that you aren’t missing out on any of the useful (and most importantly free!) cloud based services for application developers, XEround.com have produced an article briefly describing the following cloud based services:

  • Koding.
  • Cloud9 IDE.
  • eXo.
  • Codesion.
  • github.
  • bitbucket.
  • Mercurial.
  • Fossil.
  • TrackStudio.
  • YouTrack.
  • Issue Tracking Anywhere.
  • xeround.
  • MySQL.
  • Couch DB.
  • Mongo DB.
  • Cassandra.
  • Neo4j.
  • Hadoop.
  • WordPress.
  • Drupal.
  • Joomla.
  • Quantum Gateway.
  • Fast Charge Payment Gateway.
  • SwissMICSI.
  • Amazon Web Services.
  • CloudBees.
  • Engine Yard.
  • Jelastic.
  • phpfog.
  • Load Storm.
  • SOASTA.
  • Blaze Meter.
  • pingdom.
  • monitor.us.
  • Neuster Web Performance.
  • User Voice.
  • NeuQs.
  • 2help.biz.
  • iHelpDesk.
  • Google Analytics.
  • Woopra.
  • Clicktale.
  • Clicky.

So, as you can see, quite a comprehensive list of free cloud based services for application developers is covered!  If you’re interested in any of the services listed above, then check out the original article for more information!

Image: akakumo

DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE) Launches With First Case Study!

DPS Computing Limited is proud to announce the launch of the brand new (and free!) DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE) package.  The first case study in CSE has gone live this evening.

DPS Drive – Case Study Examples is aimed to complement DPS Drive – Interactive Theory Test (ITT), released this summer by DPS Computing Limited.  While the interactive theory test helps learner drivers get to grips with the driving theory and the types of questions that are asked during a theory test, DPS Drive – CSE puts the questions into a context and format that you can expect to be similar to that faced in the theory test centre.

The first Case Study Example contained in DPS Drive – CSE has been provided and kindly licensed to DPS Computing Limited by the Driving Standards Agency.

DPS Computing Limited is working with fully qualified Advanced Driving Instructors (ADIs) to create more realistic case study examples to enable us to continue releasing more case studies at regular intervals.

DPS Drive – Case Study Examples is the second release by DPS Computing Limited, as well as the second release in the DPS Drive line of products.

While DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE) was initially conceived as a paid for add on to DPS Drive – Interactive Theory Test, the decision was made to release it under a free-to-use model.  There are a number of advantages to this.  Firstly, you get it for no additional cost (always a bonus!).  Secondly, it is accessible to both current DPS Drive – ITT (DPS Computing) customers and non customers alike.  Thirdly, by releasing it under a free-to-use model we can release case studies as and when they are finished and become available.  Under the pay model, we would have had to complete all of the case studies prior to release, thereby delaying the release date.

DPS Drive – Interactive Theory Test (ITT) and DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE) have naturally been designed to complement each other.

You can access DPS Drive – CSE here.

Next Product In DPS Drive Lineup Revealed – FREE Case Studies!

DPS Computing

Following up on the release of DPS Drive – Interactive Theory Test (ITT), DPS Computing Limited is proud to announce the next product in the DPS Drive lineup, named DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE for short!).

DPS Drive – CSE will include case studies that are typically found within the theory test that you take while learning to drive.

DPS Drive - Interactive Theory Test (ITT) - Home Screen / Main MenuThe Driving Standards Agency has produced a short excerpt (shown below) which explains what case studies are and why they have been introduced:

“On 7th May 2008, the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, MP, Secretary of State for Transport launched the Learning to Drive public consultation, setting out proposals to reform the way that people learn to drive and are tested.  The consultation closed on 6th October 2008 with almost 7,000 responses.  The Report on Consultation explained Ministers’ decisions about the package of changes on which we consulted.  There was widespread, strong agreement that the introduction of case studies into the theory test would help to better assess whether learns have understood driving theory.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) therefore introduced case studies into the theory test for car drivers and moped/motorcycle riders from 28th September 2009, and the case study scenarios will be taken from the existing theory test question bank.”

As with the theory test questions featured in the Interactive Theory Test, the DSA no longer release the live question banks that are actually in use.  This is the same for case studies.  The theory test questions and case studies are indicative of the type that you would face in your theory test, but are not the actual questions / case studies – as with all revision materials out there (even the DSA’s own official revision materials).

DPS Drive – CSE will at first include one case study, which has been licensed to DPS Computing Limited by the DSA.

However, DPS Computing Limited is working closely with Advanced Driving Instructors to create more case studies to include in DPS Drive – Case Study Examples.

And the best part?  Well we’ve saved that till last!

DPS Drive – Case Study Examples (CSE) will be available free of charge!  Therefore DPS Drive – CSE will be available to both customers and non-customers, however it is designed to complement DPS Drive – Interactive Theory Test (ITT) and will be geared in a way that complements the Interactive Theory Test software – which we highly recommend for your revision!