No, we don’t have guests, these shoes are mine

… is my default answer when new friends come to visit my home and are astonished by my shoe parade. Yes, I’m a shoe addict. I haven’t dared to count my collection, but I must own more than 60 pairs. My shoe cabinets are packed and you will find all colors, brands and styles: high-heels, pumps, sneakers, boots, tip-toes, sandals, trainers, clogs – you name it, I have it. I own 8 pairs alone of classic Chucks of different heights and colors. You may be questioning if this many pairs are really necessary? Oh yes, they are. There is a very particular use for every pair of shoes.

Source: ZU

A passion for shoes can easily ruin your Saturday if you are hunting for a certain pair which you just cannot find in the right size in the shoe shops nearby. And no doubt, the habit can get somewhat expensive. Thank goodness the Internet has become a global shopping mall that is open 24/7 so I can not only save time and my best friend’s nerves, but also get occasional good bargains.

But sometimes shopping for shoes online isn’t much fun. Just recently a batch of poisoned links ruined my shoe shopping experience. I was hunting a pair of black ZU heels and was searching the net for the best price. I typed a search term in Google. The third search result sounded promising and so I clicked on the URL. But I didn’t see any shoes, instead I got a warning:

Hey, this was my internet security in action. Well done! But I still wanted a pair of shoes. So I tried the next link and the same thing happened. I clicked the next link – again a warning. The top search results on the first page were poisoned with some malicious code. Very annoying! No shoes for me that day.

Booby-trapped websites are on the rise and what’s even worse, cyber criminals are successfully fooling users with fake anti-virus software and making them pay for useless applications. Google announced a couple of days ago that they had performed a 13 month analysis of 240 million Web pages and fake anti-virus accounted for 15 percent of the malicious software detected. There wouldn’t be as much of it if this wasn’t a lucrative business for criminals.

So be on the lookout when you go shopping online and are searching for popular items. Here are my personal tips for avoiding bad online (shoe) shopping:

  1. Switch search engines once in a while. Google is the most popular and that’s why the criminals target its search results the most.
  2. Check if your internet security solution protects against malware spread through URLs. In F-Secure Internet Security 2010 this feature is called Browsing Protection. If you don’t know what the feature is called in your internet security product, check the vendors website or ask support.
  3. If you’re not using our software or your solution doesn’t offer a URL check, you can use our Browsing Protection for free at http://browsingprotection.f-secure.com/swp/. Just type in the URL you are worried about and the tool tells you if that site is safe or not.
  4. Think before you buy. No security vendor would use a malware warning for marketing and no ticket service on this planet will sell you cheap tickets for the UEFA Champions League Final 2010 in Madrid.

Do you have shopping tips? Do you know some safety checked shopping sites you would like to share? Just drop us a comment below.

Have a great weekend and happy vappu (May 1st) to all our Finnish readers!

Sandra

More posts from this topic

sign license

POLL – How should we deal with harmful license terms?

We blogged last week, once again, about the fact that people fail to read the license terms they approve when installing software. That post was inspired by a Chrome extension that monetized by collecting and selling data about users’ surfing behavior. People found out about this, got mad and called it spyware. Even if the data collection was documented in the privacy policy, and they technically had approved it. But this case is not really the point, it’s just an example of a very common business model on the Internet. The real point is what we should think about this business model. We have been used to free software and services on the net, and there are two major reasons for that. Initially the net was a playground for nerds and almost all services and programs were developed on a hobby or academic basis. The nerds were happy to give them away and all others were happy to get them for free. But businesses run into a problem when they tried to enter the net. There was no reliable payment method. This created the need for compensation models without money. The net of today is to a significant part powered by these moneyless business models. Products using them are often called free, which is incorrect as there usually is some kind of compensation involved. Nowadays we have money-based payment models too, but both our desire to get stuff for free and the moneyless models are still going strong. So what do these moneyless models really mean? Exposing the user to advertising is the best known example. This is a pretty open and honest model. Advertising can’t be hidden as the whole point is to make you see it. But it gets complicated when we start talking targeted advertising. Then someone need to know who you are and what you like, to be able to show you relevant ads. This is where it becomes a privacy issue. Ordinary users have no way to verify what data is collected about them and how it is used. Heck, often they don’t even know under what legislation it is stored and if the vendor respects privacy laws at all. Is this legal? Basically yes. Anyone is free to make agreements that involve submitting private data. But these scenarios can still be problematic in several ways. They may be in conflict with national consumer protection and privacy laws, but the most common complaint is that they aren’t fair. It’s practically impossible for ordinary users to read and understand many pages of legalese for every installed app. And some vendors utilize this by hiding the shady parts of the agreement deep into the mumbo jumbo. This creates a situation where the agreement may give significant rights to the vendor, which the users is totally unaware of. App permissions is nice development that attempts to tackle this problem. Modern operating systems for mobile devices require that apps are granted access to the resources they need. This enables the system to know more about what the app is up to and inform the user. But these rights are just becoming a slightly more advanced version of the license terms. People accept them without thinking about what they mean. This may be legal, but is it right? Personally I think the situation isn’t sustainable and something need to be done. But what? There are several ways to see this problem. What do you think is the best option?   [polldaddy poll=8801974]   The good news is however that you can avoid this problem. You can select to steer clear of “free” offerings and prefer software and services you pay money for. Their business model is simple and transparent, you get stuff and the vendor get money. These vendors do not need to hide scary clauses deep in the agreement document and can instead publish privacy principles like this.   Safe surfing, Micke     Photo by Orin Zebest at Flickr

April 15, 2015
BY 
webpage screenshot TOS

Sad figures about how many read the license terms

Do you remember our stunt in London where we offered free WiFi against getting your firstborn child? No, we have not collected any kids yet. But it sure was a nice demonstration of how careless we have become with user terms of software and service. It has been said that “Yes, I have read then license agreement” is the world’s biggest lie. Spot on! This was proven once again by a recent case where a Chrome extension was dragged into the spotlight accused of spying on users. Let’s first check the background. The “Webpage Screenshot” extension, which has been pulled from the Chrome Web Store, enabled users to conveniently take screenshots of web page content. It was a very popular extension with over 1,2 million users and tons of good reviews. But the problem is that the vendor seemed to get revenues by uploading user behavior, mainly visited web links, and monetizing on that data. The data upload was not very visible in the description, but the extension’s privacy policy did mention it. So the extension seemed to be acting according to what had been documented in the policy. Some people were upset and felt that they had been spied on. They installed the extension and had no clue that a screenshot utility would upload behavior data. And I can certainly understand why. But on the other hand, they did approve the user terms and conditions when installing. So they have technically given their approval to the data collection. Did the Webpage Screenshot users know what they signed up for? Let’s find out. It had 1 224 811 users when I collected this data. The question is how many of them had read the terms. You can pause here and think about it if you want to guess. The right answer follows below.   [caption id="attachment_8032" align="aligncenter" width="681"] Trying to access Webpage Screenshot gave an error in Chrome Web Store on April 7th 2015.[/caption]   The privacy policy was provided as a shortened URL which makes it possible to check its statistics. The link had been opened 146 times during the whole lifetime of the extension, slightly less than a year. Yes, only 146 times for over 1,2 million users! This means that only 0,012 % clicked the link! And the number of users who read all the way down to the data collection paragraph is even smaller. At least 99,988 % installed without reading the terms. So these figures support the claim that “I have read the terms” is the biggest lie. But they also show that “nobody reads the terms” is slightly incorrect.   Safe surfing, Micke   PS. Does F-Secure block this kind of programs? Typically no. They are usually not technically harmful, the user has installed them deliberately and we can’t really know what the user expects them to do. Or not to do. So this is not really a malware problem, it’s a fundamental problem in the business models of Internet.   Images: Screenshots from the Webpage Screenshot homepage and Chrome Web Store    

April 8, 2015
BY