Are You in the 14 Percent Club?

Forty years after the first spam email was sent, it is still the favorite tool of crooks and criminals online. A new report from the Finnish security group, F-Secure, reports that spam is the most common method used to distribute malware, malicious URLs, scams, and other bad news. Read on to see if you’re in the ’14 percent club’ and some of the tell-tale indicators of malicious emails…

Spam: Still Number One With Crooks

You’ve got software to protect your computer from viruses, spyware, ransomware, and rogue websites. You’re careful to keep all your software up to date. Your identity theft spider sense tingles with every suspicious phone call. But then that innocent-looking email pops into your inbox. It appears to be from your friend, your bank, or your favorite online store.

You click, and you’ve been had. Spam is still the most effective attack vector for hackers and online criminals, according to new research from F-Secure and MWR Info Security finds.

“Of the spam samples we’ve seen over spring of 2018, 46% are dating scams, 23% are emails with malicious attachments, and 31% contain links to malicious websites,” says Päivi Tynninen, Threat Intelligence Researcher at F-Secure. As usual, cyber-criminals are taking their cue from water — traveling along the path of least resistance.

As software vulnerabilities are closed and anti-malware suites grow more capable, spam becomes relatively more effective compared to hacking and exploitation of software vulnerabilities. Spam still is infinitely scalable, too; it costs nearly nothing to blast out millions of spam emails from a compromised machine, and spam-bot networks of thousands of slave machines are commonplace.

While success still depends on spewing out millions of spam emails to get a handful of “bites,” spammers are constantly refining their techniques and improving their batting averages.

Spam Click Rates are Increasing

“Spam is becoming an increasingly successful attack vector, with click rates rising from 13.4% in the second half of 2017 to 14.2% in 2018,” says Adam Sheehan, Behavioral Science Lead at MWR Info Security. His firm, which was acquired by F-secure in June, 2018, develops a site called phishd that helps businesses audit and improve their anti-phishing efforts.

Among the insights that MWR provides are clues to what makes phishing spam successful:

  • The probability of a recipient opening an email increases 12% if the email claims to come from a known individual
  • Having a subject line free from errors improves spam’s success rate by 4.5%
  • A phishing email that explicitly states in its call to action that it is very urgent gets less traction than when the urgency is implied

Most users have finally learned not to click on email attachments sent by strangers, or any attachment that comes unexpectedly. So more phishing emails include URLs instead; people are still conditioned to click on links to see where they go, especially if the link says “click on this link…”

The link often does not lead directly to a malicious site, but to an innocuous site that redirects traffic to a malicious site. That way, the bad guy avoids detection by automated analysis software that previews links and compares them to known malicious URLs.

F-secure includes these and other tips for security-conscious people in its latest podcast entitled, “Ransomware Out, Cryptojacking In?” Other trends the company notes include:

Ransomware is down substantially as an attack vector. The demise of Adobe Flash is echoed in declines of malicious drive-by downloads. And exploit kits, bundles of malicious programs that work together to test and penetrate a company or home network, are also on a decline.

The good news is that with education and software, we have eliminated or limited many malware attack options to spam. The bad news is that spam still works. My best advice: Think twice before you click.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands

 

UPDATED: More Details on the Upcoming Ability to Change Your User Name in Second Life

Credit

Patch Linden added a bit more information to the recent announcement that Linden Lab was going to allow Second Life users to change their last names. He said, in a thread on the official Second Life user forums, that you would be able to change both first and last names:

It will be complete and total name changes, both first and surname.  Just to set expectations on this, it is a later this year item.

When asked if the change would be available to everyone, or just those with the Resident last name, he added:

It will be available to everyone.  ;)

And, in answer to yet another question about whether or not you could hide your name:

No hiding of names.  First name and surname combos will have to be unique like they are today.  A couple of other questions that came up – no re-use of retired names, once a name has been used, it belongs to that account forever.  We keep a transnational name change history.  Only standard English characters will be permitted.

Just to make it clear, this is an upcoming ability to change to the actual avatar name, not the display name. When asked about how this change will affect the display names of avatars (which can be updated once a week):

This has no affect on display names and largely I do not anticipate we will change how display names work.  If anything, it somewhat sunsets the need for them.

So, that makes everything a little clearer! Thanks, Patch! I predict that there will be a land rush on names once this feature is turned on for users. Being able to change both your first AND your last name (as long as somebody else doesn’t already have that combination) is a very nice feature to have!

UPDATE March 23rd: Inara Pey has a very detailed blogpost on this announcement by Linden Lab, with even more details:

The plan is to allow people to change their first and last name whenever they wish.

  • As with the “old” system, users will be able to choose whatever first name they like, then select their last name from a pre-set list of available names.
  • Once a name combination has been created, it is forever tied to that avatar, it cannot be used by anyone else, even if the “owner” later changes their name, or their account is deactivated.
  • Previous names will be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that and get their current name.
  • As with the “old” system, this list of last names will be routinely changed with different names appearing on it.
  • To help keep the available names relatively fresh, the Lab is considering accepting suggestions from users.
  • It has not been determined if someone will be able to switch back to using a name they’ve previously used.
  • Unicode will not be supported when entering a first name.

Thanks, Inara!

SECOND UPDATE April 2nd: Inara Pey has posted more details on the upcoming ability to change your avatar name in her report on the Second Life Web User Group meeting of March 28th:

  • “Original / legacy” last names will not be re-opened for use.
  • New users joining Second Life will still be given the automatic “last name” of “Resident”, but have the option of changing if they wish.
  • The fee for name changes has not been announced, however, at this point the indication is that the fee will be in fiat currency (i.e. US dollars) not Linden Dollars.
  • One of the reasons the return of last names will take time to be implemented is that all of the SL web properties – like the Marketplace – have to be updated to recognise users as they change their names (something which applies across almost all of the SL services when you think about it).

Kim K. Using Second Life Avatars In Her Social Media Postings

Could this be the beginning of a new wave of Second Life users? We shall see.

Kim Kardashian Second Life avatars

From Kardashian’s Instagram feed

Turns out that Kim Kardashian Second Life avatar from last week wasn’t just a one-off to promote her perfume brand — Ms. Kardashian-West just posted this pic above featuring three SL avatars on her social media channels. And so many, many years after any major pop brand has integrated Second Life content into their media, Kim Kardashian remains an outlier. I really can’t think of a precedent to this; I mean, Drew Carey used to talk about his favorite Second Life creators on Twitter, but even Carey would agree that this Kardashian campaign is many multitudes more massive. The mystery is how it came to be.

Kim Kardashian Second Life avatars Instagram KKW perfumeKardashian’s official @kkwfragance perfume brand on Instagram has even more SL pics

I have, of course, reached out to Kardashian’s social media people, and will let readers know when/if I get a reply. By the way, some have speculated that these SL avatars are from her Kimoji mobile app, but having just downloaded it, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Kimoji avatars all appear to be from IMVU — look:

 

Kimoji IMVU avatarsAnd indeed, this was actually announced a couple years ago:

IMVU, the social network with 3D animated avatars, said that it has provided the technology behind a new version of the popular Kimoji paid app created by Kim Kardashian West… “Kanye and I found this amazing social experience company, IMVU, and worked with them on creating some of our latest Kimoji designs and GIFs. They’re such innovators who have helped me really set Kimoji apart,” Kardashian wrote on her site.

So it’s even stranger that she’d switch from IMVU to SL for this new campaign. (Stranger still that her SL avatar looks less like Kim Kardashian and more like Cher, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Update, 4:40pm: Added links and pics to KKW’s perfume brand on Instagram (hat tip: Kirsten Corleone).

SLB15 Meet the Lindens – Follow Up and Summary

Promotional poster for Meet the Lindens at SL15B. Credit: Linden Lab
It was most definitely interesting to sit in and listen to what each Linden who spoke had to say.  From learning about the future of Second Life, to the everyday workings behind the scenes,  I have found an article written by Inara Pey – that summed everything up beautifully- that I would like to take the time to pass on – she is a wonderful source of inspiration and news in second life – give her a follow!

Until next year!

Credits: Inara Pey

Meet the Lindens is now a regular part of the Second Life anniversary landscape. Over the course of the week of celebrations, it gives Second Life users the chance to find out more about the people working at Linden Lab, find out about projects and plans, and the work being carried out on Second Life and Sansar, ask questions about matters of interest / concern to them.

For Meet the Lindens 2018, Saffia Widdershins sat down with six members of the Second Life team, and also with Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg.

The six SL team members attending the sessions were:

  • Xiola Linden (Community team)
  • Brett Linden (Marketing)
  • Keira Linden (Land team) and Patch Linden (Snr Director of Product Operations)
  • Grumpity Linden (Director of Product for Second Life) and Oz Linden (Technical Director for Second Life).

Each of the sessions was recorded by SL4Live and made available through YouTube as a part of the SL15B sessions.

For those who prefer to read about what was said, I have produced this set of summary articles of the different sessions.

Please note that these are not intended as full transcripts; some topics came up more than once through the week, so I have tried to focus on subjects that were answered in the greatest detail within each session.

Audio extracts are included with each summary. These have been edited to remove pauses, repetitions, etc., with care taken to maintain the overall context of comments and answers.

The full video for each session is also embedded with each summary for completeness, and timestamps are included for each of the topics in a summary, and will open the relevant video in a separate browser tab, at the point at which the topic is discussed.

Table of Contents

Please use the links in the contents list to the right to jump to the topic summary that interests you, or to a specific topic within a summary.

ZI Business District Renovations to Begin!

Hello ZoHa Islands Business District Renters,

I’d like to start off by thanking you for being a great addition to the community we have here at ZI over the years. Its been awhile since the Business District has been set, and its time for a makeover! The 12 region estate there will be undergoing some construction, new roads systems, landscaping, teraforming, and completely redone to attract more businesses, homes, etc by giving it more dimension and appeal. In addition to this we will be monitoring the regions for quality builds and ensure the regions maintain a quality standard we envision for our business district with an end product resulting in a place that people want to be, see and explore! …Thus leading more prospective patrons to your establishments.

We would love as we move forward with the project (which is to be completely overhauled by mid July 2018) to see you all get creative and add to the beauty of the project, each location will have foot traffic access and we also have a wonderful array of new exciting projects coming your way. Events, Showcases and other traffic boosting elements will be added in addition to our business directory.

Please note. This will NOT affect any land tiers.

These 12 sims will be included ONLY:
Business District Alpha
Business District Bravo
Business District Charlie
Business District Delta
Business District Echo
Business District Foxtrot
Business District Golf
Business District Hotel
Business District Indigo
Business District Juliet
Business District Kilo
Business District Lima

So please pardon our dust and be patient while we are under construction!

Thank you Kindly!

ZoHa Islands Support

ZoHa Islands – Request Form

Linden Lab 15 Week Gift Hunt/Grab

The Big 15th Birthday Weekly Gift Grab

Credit from Second Life Blog

Fifteen years is a tremendous achievement for any community, and we’ve been hard at work on a fun and interactive gift hunting series to thank our Residents. The Big 15th Birthday Weekly Gift Grab starts today – June 18th, 2018!

For the next 15 weeks, we’ll be releasing a different crystal-themed gift each week. All you have to do is find and collect the gifts. Each fabulous gift is available for one week only, and in one Region only. The Region will change each week, and we’ll be publishing clues each week to help you find the Region to search for that week’s gift – watch the Second Life social media channels and the Blog at for the clues.

How to get started:

  • Visit the Swaginator HUD kiosk here to grab your Swaginator HUD
  • Attach your Swaginator HUD
  • Investigate the clue for the week by checking our Blog or social media channels ( This week’s clue is already up so go check it out now!)
  • Find the Region and start searching

Remember, each gift is available for one week only, and then it’s gone. You can collect as many, or as few gifts as you want, but if you want to collect the final super-special Birthday Gift in the final week you will need to have collected all 14 of the previous gifts.

Don’t forget to check the Blog each week for updates.