Twitter being used to distribute Malware and DoS attacks

Sadly it’s no surprise that the ‘Trending Topics’ ranking on Twitter is being used by both spammers and distributors of Malware. Or for instigating DoS attacks:

Malware:

Malware is the catch-all term for software referred to in the mainstream press as ‘virusus’ – technically a virus is a type of Malware.

Luckily the methods being used aren’t particularly sophisticated yet – the scammers are creating fake Twitter accounts to post with #hashtags for trending topics and links to sites which contain the malicious software or scams.

Mashable reports that the most common links at the moment are “Twitterbest (dot) mp” and “Zasaden (dot) mp”. An added sign is that in this case, the url also tends to contain a pornographic term.

The alert from Mashable came via Panda Security who explain that the fake accounts link to a page that prompts you to ‘upgrade your Flash player’ or similar. If you agree to download software, it installs itself, and you’ll get error messages warning you of a virus and that you need to pay $89 for fake software called “Fast Anti-Virus 2009”.

The best tip is to avoid links that look suspicious, or are posted by people you don’t know. And if you do think you need to download a software update, go to the site of the company concerned, rather than installing via a random 3rd party site.

DoS:

The New York Times is reporting that Twitter is being used to instigate Denial of Service attacks against key government officials in Iran;

‘But a still developing and less benign use of Twitter in Iran has been its application in denial-of-service attacks against key government officials, including those affiliated with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

… Tweets have begun circulating that allow users to target a Web site that will eventually be overcome by simply clicking on the embedded URL in the message. As soon as a user hits the page, as many as 24 frames open up simultaneously and refresh continuously, causing a DoS attack against the 24 separate Web sites.’

Woolworths online is a case study in waiting

So Woolworths is going to return as an online-only retailer, having been bought by Shop Direct (which owns Littlewoods and Choice) after going into administration.

Woolworths closes (Pic by osde8info on Flickr)

Woolworths closes (Pic by osde8info on Flickr)

It’s going to be very interesting for a number of reasons.

The first is trying to guess what it will actually sell. It had a music download shop, which closed with the High Street stores, but there’s logical reasoning to suggest digital downloads make a lot of sense. The PaidContent UK article has a quote which claims Woolworths will do entertainment and everything that made it famous on the High Street – but was it really famous for entertainment?

After all, it started by selling children’s clothing, toys and stationary. And Shop Direct might have seen success with Littlewoods, but that’s a name known for catalogue shopping.

And while there’s evidence that ‘bricks and mortar’ shops can do well online, the same evidence lists the top four retailers as Amazon, Argos, Play.com and Tesco.com.

An interesting post on the icrossing blog uses the example of Dixons to show that the move online is the right decision, but mentions how Dixons bought and integrated online photo service Pixmania and the search and affiliate expertise it had.

And that’s where I think Woolworths could very well fall down.

No-one has stated, or even managed to suggest, what the belief will be – and ‘The Bankruptcy of the Non-Descript‘ is what I believe caused the collapse of Woolworths, Zavvi and MFI. (Just realised I’ve restated Mark Earl’s ‘Purpose Idea’ from the other angle.)

Sadly the awesome Brand Tags doesn’t include Woolies. But I doubt entertainment would be first on the list. It’s Pic’n’Mix in both sweets and belief. A ‘five and dime‘ store with sweets, entertainment, furnishings, cookware, pens and paper and other random stuff.

That has a benefit offline, should you need a selection of random stuff, and not want to wander round a larger department store, or go for the clear low cost of Poundland. And if you’re of a certain age, you could meet with your friends and have a cup of coffee.

But online we already have Tesco and Argos. And anything is just a click away.

And in entertainment, Woolies is facing Amazon, iTunes and a music industry that is struggling to workout what it should do to survive.

And those loyal customers who used it as a meeting place are likely to have already found online alternatives – and if they’re not online yet, the prospect of Woolworths won’t make them buy a new PC and broadband.

But maybe there is a loyal niche group who could find a solution – there’s a small group on Facebook discussing it, even if the dreaded brand word crops up too much for my liking.

And I like the fact the Woolworths site is currently displaying a form for comments on the good and bad about the business. Even if the reassurance it’s returning is a bit naff. ‘I haven’t shopped since Woolworths closed’, a man sobbed.

But whether Woolworths becomes something really different and cool with a purpose that makes sense, or collapses for a second time in a supernova of pic’n’mix, it’s going to be fascinating to watch.

How TV companies 2.0 can make money

This all came from two articles by two of my Twitter connections, starting with Charles Arthur writing on the Guardian website about the need for television companies to come to terms with filesharing. In it, he suggested TV media firms could make low quality versions of their shows available as they are broadcast as a way to encourage people to download a high resolution version.

Peeebeee (Peter Bowyer) examined the link Charles had made between music and TV companies and the effect downloads are having, and suggested that the way the music industry can monetise is not necessarily applicable (low quality freebie for driving high quality purchases), mainly because music will be replayed over and over.. .

It’s taken me a while to respond because I wanted to add something to the conversation, and try to hypothesize how I’d monetise online television. (If you think it’s taking me a while, try asking Google about Youtube!) And although I don’t work in television (Aside from the sadly discontinued MCN Daily…*shudders*), my day job consists of working out how it can be possible to fund a large magazine and website company from engaging community.

My theory is that the answer is more obvious than you’d think, because it’s something that film companies have already done, when they sold us on DVDs. Aside from allowing us to posture about the quality on our widescreen television, and pause without burning through a tape, DVDs convinced many people to part with money for the value of the extras which were included – even for films they might already own on video.

So expand the same theory to online. I may already be able to watch a film or TV programme via filesharing or a legitimate streaming channel, but what could be added to a package which would make it worth parting with a small amount of money? Could you include DVD-style extras and outtakes? Could you also include background information? How about putting complete series together online, or the works of a particular writer, director or actor. Which could then be sold on DVD, and as a complete download?

And what about also including all the related links, reading material, and even User Created Content?

Now I could find a lot of this via a fair bit of web searching, but that takes time and effort – and increasingly the exponential growth of material online means people are looking for ways to filter content, and aggregate it efficiently, and are willing to pay for it. As Steve Jobs once pointed out, finding a copy of a song via filesharing can translate into working for less than minimum wage – fine for time-rich teenagers, but not for anyone feeling time-starved.

And providing best-of reading material for certain content would be a incredibly useful for information rich shows. Ironically, while my partner has been watching Hollywood films on DVD over the last two weekends, I’ve had the time to watch the inspirational Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’ by Randy Pausch, and also ‘An anthropological introduction to Youtube‘ by Michael Wesch.

Both times the Youtube video was an hour or more long, which is fine for me, but would be better in DVD format for the non ‘digital natives’ I’d love to shave them with. They both refer to people, places, and reference works which might be useful to have in digital and print form. Both lecturers have previous work which would be useful to have included (not just videos, but written articles and academic works etc). And neither of those works is likely to even appear on a mainstream (Say Freeview for the sake of argument) TV channel in the UK, where we have to make do with a short internet show once a week on the BBC, and the occasional programme discussing the risks of online networks.

Essentially, any content which doesn’t require high budgets and production values is already legally uploaded and available on Youtube. Anything that does incur a huge cost is losing part of it’s audience to filesharing, or is being served online in ways that can be frustrating (You can’t watch a show on BBC iPlayer after seven days, and that’s about the best of the bunch). None of it is giving me a reason to pay a couple of pounds to get extra value, as opposed to the imported DVD boxsets I own, signed by the director, and containing material I wouldn’t have otherwise seen at the time without a lot of hunting around.

It’s not about criminalizing fans who fileshare and promote your product. It’s about making use of the advantages of being large scale content creators and giving those fans reasons why it makes sense for them to spend an amount to invest. iTunes isn’t the best music store in the history of the world, but if you’ve got an iPod it’s easy to go there and spend a few pounds/dollars, rather than sorting out filesharing software and downloads. Despite access to films online, and the Xbox film service permanently attached to my HDTV, I still subscribe to Lovefilm, because it’s easier to get films delivered than order them online legally, due to the shocking state of broadband speeds outside major cities in the UK. And that’s what has cut my DVD purchasing, way more than availability online.

Give me a reason to pay for TV and film which justifies itself in terms of making my life easier, and giving me more than enough value to justify it to myself, and it won’t just be me who will be tempted…

NB: And actually, artists are already pioneering this in the music industry. Just look at the $1619420 Trent Reznor made from the recent Ghosts album.

Coldplay demonstrate the problem with the music industry

It’s not a surprise that Coldplay are top of the UK singles chart (along with the album chart as well). Whatever you think of their music, they’ve got the fanbase and the following to make it as close to a sure thing as could be – despite the fact they got beaten by the Crazy Frog ringtone in 2005!

But what is very interesting is the fact that the official single to be released, Violet Hill, is only at number 11 on the charts. The song at number 1, Viva La Vida, was actually only made available as a download to fans who had pre-ordered the new album,  just three days before the singles chart was compiled.

So the track available as a bonus download for pre-ordered albums beats out a physical copy costing £1.99 by the same band.

For me, this is another sure sign that the singles chart should become purely about downloaded tracks, and that increasing numbers of bands and people are understanding that downloadable music is something which can be enjoyed as an incentive, or as promotional, or a taster – and not necessarily as the end product which supports the music industry.

For a more groundbreaking example, just take a look at what Nine Inch Nails did

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