Team Develops Accurate Prototype to Detect Fake Sites

Despite the wide use of the internet, there is a surprising lack of awareness amongst most users about fake sites on the net. The number of sites is on the rise and the number of victims is also rising at an accelerating pace. Now a team of researchers from the Arizona Eller College of Management have developed a prototype system that can detect fake websites.

A Phishing attempt

The system can detect fake sites much better than a human can. The article by the team on this development got published in the prestigious journal MIS Quarterly, published by the Management Information Systems Research Center, Carlson School of Management and the University of Minnesota. An MISQ publication is a trophy in one’s research career.


The importance can hardly be over-emphasised. Fake sites are responsible for robbing people of a lot of money or phishing attempts and other such acts of cyber crimes.

Ahmed Abbasi, the lead author of the paper and now a University of Virginia professor of information technology, says:

The problem we’re looking at is quite big. Fake websites constitute much of the Internet fraud’s multi-billion dollar industry, and that is monetary loss…we can’t even quantify the social ramifications. That’s the whole motivation. It is so profitable for fraudsters, and it is slipping through the cracks.

The Methodology

The methodology was two-part.

The first involved checking the easily verifiable information. The prototype checked whether a site’s URL contained http’ instead of an expected https’. Further, it can check when the site was last updated, whether a security key is missing or if the images appear unexpectedly pixelated.

The second part used more hidden information like URL length, number of links and to which sites it is linking to, the character types on the site and how the FAQ section on a site is maintained.

Way forward

Abbasi emphasises the use of great amounts of information for improving the prototype. Fake sites are constantly evolving their look and how they look is not really a criteria any longer, which makes it all the more difficult for a human to detect them. The days of long-held idea of a fake site having a lot of Unicode characters and other unreadable nonsense are gone.

The project is still underway and very much on track. It is, however, a long way from sneaking into our own lives and saving us from a lot of harassment.

Speak Asia – Scam? Bank Accounts Closed

Speak Asia is a Singapore based market research company that organizes online surveys for various products and companies. It launched it’s services in India sometime back and there are a number of ads you see on TV and newspapers. People wonder, how Speak Asia works and how it makes money? Is it real or a scam?

Speak Asia charges Rs.11,000 ($250) to register. Once successfully registered, a set of surveys are provided to answer. For every survey you complete, you get paid Rs. 500 ($11.36)

Speak Asia

Speak Asia currently offers 3 different methods to register.

  1. Email a scanned copy of your income statement which states that you earn over $1000 from one of the top 20 survey companies.
  2. Apply for a test in English. The examination fee is $60. The topics will range from general knowledge to comprehension. You can give test at Mumbai or Singapore.
  3. Pay $120 for 26 issues of online surveys or $220 for 52 issues and get direct entry to Speak Asia.

Here’s the catch. The first two ways of signing up for the program makes some sense as they are accepting quality panelists, but the third way to sign up for the program sounds fishy. Anyone can register by paying the fee and I wonder how they can compromise quality for $220?

Here are some interesting facts and things that have been happening in the last few days.

Speak Asia’s website states that they have their main office in Singapore and do not have an registered office in India yet. Wonder how they’re still offering services in India? The documents listed in Speak Asia’s website are rubbish. No legal documents of the company are available online.

Headline Today conducted a background check on Speak Asia sometime back and found out that the owner of Speak Asia is not based in Singapore and lives in Tax haven of British Virgin Island.

Interestingly, IndiaToday reported that the ownership of Speak Asia conforms to a typical offshore structure where multi-layered waterfall structure is created to hide the actual owner.

On 27th May, United Overseas Bank, based in Singapore has closed all accounts of Speak Asia.

Our bank account in Singapore has not been frozen… we are only moving our company account to another bank. We are approaching and evaluating various other banks in Singapore from where we will soon be able to disburse the payments to all panelists,Speak Asia said in a statement.

Here’s a complete analysis done by Vijay at India Forums. Interesting. Must read!

For over a year, Speak Asia has collected Rs. 11,000 from lakhs of people assuring them of high returns within months, but not sure how far it is true. If you’re planning to register, then I suggest you not to do so. Looking at the analysis, it can be scam. You never know!

Please share this across with all your friends and alert the ones who have already registered.

You won’t beleive what she does!! Facebook Scam

A new like-jacking scam is spreading through Facebook. The scam states: “You won’t beleive what she does!! Omg you have to watch it”. The message contains a YouTube link and when a user clicks on the video link, the scam will be automatically posted on your Facebook wall stating that you “like” the video.

Here’s a screenshot of the scam:

Facebook Scam
You can notice that there’s a typo in the scammer’s message. The word ‘beleive’ has been spelled incorrectly.

Beware, please do not click on the link and remember to ‘Mark as Spam’

Here’s a post written by Cliff on how you can avoid like-jacking scams on Facebook.

Image credits: Facecrooks

Enable ‘Dislike’ Button Scam On Facebook

A new scam, “Enable Dislike Button” is  spreading on Facebook. When I logged in to Facebook today, a friend of mine posted on my wall stating, “I just enabled the new dislike button! Click ‘Enable’ to enable the feature!  Dislike Button enabled by 464,350 users”. At once, I figured out that it is a scam and  searched  on Google to confirm it. Facebook does not have a “dislike” button and might not have as well, so don’t fall for this scam.

Enable 'Dislike' Button Scam

Researchers from Sophos also spotted this scam and quoted,  There is no official dislike button provided by Facebook and there isn’t ever likely to be,.

Clicking on the link, will forward fake messages to your friends and run unwanted JavaScript on your computer.

Avoiding such scams is not an easy task on Facebook. You are always  tempted  to click on such links, but you can always follow caution. Clif had written a nice post on  How to Avoid Facebook LikeJacking Scams, it is definitely a worthwhile read to find and spot such scams.