Archive for May 8, 2022

WARNING: A New Text Message #SCAM Involving Scotiabank Is Making The Rounds

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

The scumbags that want to use nefarious means to separate you from your money clearly aren’t taking this Mother’s Day off. I say that because I just got this text message on my iPhone:

I have left the phone number in so that if you get this text, you can compare it to my picture. Though the scammers may change this at any time. In any case, it claims to be from Scotiabank, but it’s not really from Scotiabank as the website that the text is asking you to go to is “myscotia-mobilealerts.com” which isn’t a domain that Scotiabank would ever use. In fact, if you do a Whois lookup on the domain, you get this:

The scammer has used a service called Privacy Guardian to hide their identity. Scotiabank (or any other bank, company, etc) would ever do that. That’s a big hint that this domain isn’t legitimate. Also if you look at the creation date, it was created a few days ago. Another big hint that this website isn’t legitimate as companies have domains for years and not days.

Because I like to go down the rabbit hole in order to educate my readers on how to avoid these scams, I clicked on the link, which is something that you should never do, and got this:

This has phishing scam written all over it. As in you put your bank login details into this website and the scammer then uses them to steal everything out of your bank accounts. The questionable grammar is the next big hint that this isn’t legitimate as companies take the time and effort to get that right, and scammers don’t. Take this for example:

Sent to [you]? #Fail.

Going further down the rabbit hole I get this when I click on “Verify Account”:

This is a very, very good replication of the actual Scotiabank login page. You can compare the picture above to the actual Scotiabank login page by clicking here. Clearly this is where the scammers invested their time and effort.

I didn’t go any further as it is clear that this is a phishing scam. As usual, I’ll be alerting Scotiabank to this so that they can take action against the scammers however they can. In the meantime, this is proof positive that you need to have your head in the came by constantly being on the look out for scams like these. Because they can literally come from anywhere and if you’re not careful, it could cost you a pile of money.

Review: Ekster Carbon Fibre Cardholder

Posted in Products with tags on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

Ekster wallets have been my go to cardholder for some time now. First I did a review of their Aluminum Cardholder, which my wife then promptly claimed as her own. Then Ekster was kind enough to send me a second wallet which I then tried out for two weeks and loved so much that it became part of my every day carry. But I wasn’t a fan of the camo look of the wallet. Sure it didn’t affect how the wallet functions, but my personal style is black, matte black, or carbon fibre all the things. So I decided to treat myself to a new Ekster wallet. Specifically their Carbon Fibre Cardholder. Instead of being made of 6061-T6 aluminum, this cardholder is made from 3K carbon fibre. 3K carbon is the workhorse of carbon fiber because it’s light and relatively stiff. 3K has a high threshold before failure and better strength than 6K, 9K or 12K. It is typically used in aviation, industrial purposes, sporting and recreation goods such as bike frames and tennis racquets. In short, this is quality stuff that also looks cool as a side benefit.

So let’s start with the fact that this is a light cardholder. Here’s the weight of the aluminum variant:

Now 77 grams is pretty light. But Here’s what you get for the carbon fibre variant:

It may be hard to read, but it says 62 grams. That’s a 15 gram difference. And surprisingly, I do notice it in my pocket. Plus it feels just as stiff and solid as the aluminum version. As far as I am concerned, that’s a win. And it comes with exactly the same functionality as the aluminum version. Specifically:

The main section of cardholder fans out your cards at the click of a button. This is where you store your less frequently used cards. The cardholder holds a maximum of 6 non-embossed cards, or a combination of 4 – 5 embossed/non-embossed cards (depending on the thickness of each card). You can also shove a couple of bills or something like a proximity card under the strap as well.

The expandable metal backplate (it is a shame that this wasn’t carbon fibre as well) allows you to carry a pair of cards that you frequently access (credit cards for example) while keeping a slim profile. There a notch at the bottom center of this section that helps you to push them out so that you can get to them. Finally, it still has the RFID protection in place.

My only gripe is the cost. This is not cheap as it $103 CDN. It does come in two styles in case you don’t like the carbon fibre weave that you see above. But if you want to add a bit of style your everyday carry, and shave some weight in the process, this is a great, though pricey way to do both.

Musk’s Pitch Deck For His Twitter Takeover Leaks

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

This has to be embarrassing for Elon Musk who at this point is the de facto owner of Twitter. It seems that his pitch deck recently leaked, revealing what Musk wants to do with Twitter beyond just making it “the platform for free speech around the globe”. The New York Times (via Tesla North) has details, but let’s bullet point them right now:

  • Quintuple Revenue to $26.4 Billion by 2028
  • Hit 931 Million Total Users by 2028
  • Job Cuts and Hiring Waves. I spoke about the former here.
  • A secret project of some sort that will launch in 2023 and have 9 million users by the end of year one.

And if that wasn’t enough, he said this on…. Twitter:

If I’m a Twitter employee, this does not inspire confidence. Especially given that because of the pandemic, companies who want to retain talent are doing everything possible to create a healthy work/life balance for employees. Thus the leaking of this pitch deck might send people running to the exits to so that they can be someplace else when he takes over.

I really don’t see how any of this will be possible. But I am an IT Nerd, not an entrepreneur. Thus I may be missing something. Which will make seeing if Musk can pull this off (or not) something to watch.

Competition Bureau To Rogers And Shaw: That Merger Ain’t Happening On Our Watch

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

Rogers and Shaw apparently got some bad news on Friday night. Apparently the Competition Bureau dialled them up and let them know that their proposed merger was going to be opposed by them. Rogers put out a press release that among other things said this:

Rogers Communications Inc. (“Rogers”) and Shaw Communications Inc. (“Shaw”) were notified this afternoon following the close of trading of the Commissioner of Competition’s intention to file applications to the Competition Tribunal opposing Rogers’ proposed merger with Shaw (the “Transaction”).

Rogers and Shaw remain committed to the Transaction, which is in the best interests of Canada and Canadians because of the significant long-term benefits it will bring for consumers, businesses and the economy. The companies have offered to address concerns regarding the possible impact of the Transaction on Canada’s competitive wireless market by proposing the full divesture of Shaw’s wireless business, Freedom Mobile. Rogers and Shaw are engaged in a process to sell Freedom Mobile, with a view to addressing concerns raised by the Commissioner of Competition and ISED.

Rogers and Shaw will oppose the application to prevent the Transaction to be made by the Commissioner of Competition, while continuing to engage constructively with the Competition Bureau in an effort to bring this matter to a resolution and ensure that the Transaction’s benefits can be realized by all Canadians.

As a result of this news, Rogers and Shaw have pushed the the outside date of the merger to July 31 2022. That way they can “engage” with the Competition Bureau and get them to change their minds. Something that I personally don’t see happening. So I expect this to be in court at some point.

Frankly, i’m not at all surprised by this as there has been healthy opposition to this merger as it is seen as reducing competition rather than increasing it. And frankly, Rogers specifically has larger issues at the moment. While they have made announcements about increasing the speeds of their Internet offering to better compete with Bell and Telus, the facts are that those announcements really won’t make the Internet experience for the majority of their customers any better anytime soon. So if I were Rogers, I’d focus on that rather than reducing competition by buying Shaw.

Guest Post: If You Value Your Privacy – Stop Using Gmail

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 8, 2022 by itnerd

Have you ever considered how much information Google harvests about you?

Google creates ‘shadow profiles’ of every user by tracking, recording and analysing:

  • Every email you send or receive via Gmail
  • Every search you perform on Google search
  • Every video you watch on YouTube
  • Everywhere you go, the route you took and how long you stay – even if you never open the Maps app
  • Your physical location – even if you turn off location services – by using information gathered from Wi-Fi and other wireless signals

Google has admitted to scanning your Gmail messages to compile a list of your purchases and who-knows-what-else. Just think of all the confidential financial, medical and other personal data which you have ever exchanged via email – it’s all being scanned by Google’s AI to build up a ‘shadow profile’ of you and your behaviour.

Google’s Director of Security even admitted that Google allows third party developers to access your Gmail messages if you’ve granted them permission which, since most people don’t change their privacy settings, is likely to include almost all of Gmail’s 1.5 billion users.

“Gmail becomes a window into your entire online life because of how wide and deep their surveillance architecture goes”, says Rowenna Fielding, founder of privacy consultancy Miss IG Geek.

Some people argue in favour of surveillance, after all “if you’ve got nothing to hide, why should you be worried?” Plus, Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil”, right? Wrong. It used to be, but sometime in 2018 Google dropped “Don’t be evil” from its code of conduct, replacing it with Alphabet’s intention to “do the right thing”, which is clearly open to interpretation. Do the right thing for who exactly? The users? The advertisers? Or just for Alphabet inc?

What can you do to minimise the exploitation of your data?

The first thing to do, if you have a Google account, is to manage your profile and set your data collection and storage preferences – but doing so won’t prevent Google exploiting the data they retain about you.

The most important step you can take is to get off Gmail. By sending email through Google’s servers you are knowingly allowing every message you send or receive to be scanned.

What are the alternatives to Gmail?

Thankfully there are alternatives to Gmail, which work just as well and are far more secure.

Open Web Systems is a different kind of email provider. Co-owned by its users, it provides surveillance-free email and document storage, with military-grade security and encryption, powered by 100% renewable energy.

There’s always a cost to send an email – and although your Gmail account doesn’t have a monthly fee you are still paying by allowing Google to store, scan, and monetize your data.

Ultimately the choice is yours, but when the surveillance-free alternatives deliver the same level of usability and functionality as the data-exploiting alternatives for just £4/month, why wouldn’t you pay for privacy?