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Astroturfing 'stand with women in gaming' #NoRoomForAbuse

May 30, 2023, 10:13:36 AM by kat
The 'politics in/of gaming' legacy in three images.

Sky tweet
Image #1 (above) : Sky Inc. is running a new campaign raising awareness of the abuse women and girls face online. The tweet includes a video of a gaming rig in the middle of a room with white, partially transparent, walls. Men's blurred silhouettes can be seen pushing against the walls while the voices of men can be heard reading abusive comments. The intent is to show "what it's really like to be a women in gaming"[1]. For more information the reader is directed to their profile (because they can't link from within a tweet?).

Sky's Twitter profile with disguised link
Image #2 (above) : their Twitter profile repeats some of the tweets content with a link to .find out more, and based on the URL text partially obscured it can be assumed it has something to do with the #NoRoomForAbuse campaign (i.e. Sky.com/broadband/noro... should be Sky.com/broadband/noro[oomforabuse]?).

Sky upselling broadband on the back of online abuse
Image #3 (above) : click that link however, and the visitor is taken to a page on sky.com (sky.com/broadband?DCMP=DMC-OCT10_Broadband_SK_broadband/noroomforabuse) upselling their broadband. Just to be clear, in case it isn't, sky is using online abuse as an avenue to upsell their broadband services, and are likely 'donating' to the #noroomforabuse cause to do so.

What, too, does that say about The Cybersmile Foundation lending their voice and credibility (for whatever that is) to Sky (https://www.cybersmile.org/news/cybersmile-sky-broadband-and-guild-esports-team-up-to-tackle-abuse-of-women-gamers) to enable this form of, what can only be described as, astroturfing (again) [2], to an issue they claims to be of serious concern, all for, probably, a large donation (likely in kind through exposure/reach across Sky's platform).

The cynic might say 'politics' being coercively injected into gaming and online life was never about gaming and online life, and always about money, power and influence, and you're a [pejorative] if you notice or point that out.

1: the reality of "what's it's like to be a women in gaming" is that 50+% of online abuse is perpetrated by women - given how little study has been directed at the type/sort of abuse women and girls perpetrate, that number may very well but much larger, and considering the research that has been done, that men and boys are more likely to receive abuse online, is always framed as "and who is doing that but men and boys".

2: other examples of astroturfing significant campaigns; "Article 13, YouTube (BigTech) & #SaveYourInternet astroturfing" (2018) and "Article 11 ss 15, Article 13 ss 17, EU Copyright Apr 2019 (provisional)" (2019)

SCAM ALERT: Nord VPN Brand Ambassadorship Inquiry

April 22, 2023, 02:20:03 PM by kat
Similar to the previous Nike brand/sponsorship scam, another one addressed to YouTube creators, claims to be from Nord VPN Technology brand ambassador program. Sender is a throwaway GMX (German) account/address with no other Corporate or individual identifiers. Needless to say if the message doesn't come from the nordvpn.com domain it's a scam.

Dear YouTuber,
I hope you're having a great day today. We at Nord VPN Technology are impressed by the quality of content on your YouTube channel, and we think that a joint venture between our brands could be beneficial for all parties involved.
As a well-established software company in the industry, we are always looking for novel ways to engage with our target audience. Your YouTube channel has caught our attention due to the imaginative content you produce.
We are excited about collaborating with you to promote Nord VPN products to your subscribers. We have a collection of materials available for your use which contains comprehensive information about our products and services.
You can gain access to this compilation by using the password: [password]
Web Link: [URL to anonymous file sharing dropbox]
If you are available, we would be delighted to discuss this opportunity further with you. We're eager to hear your feedback, and we can't wait to receive you in the near future.
Nord VPN Systems

SCAM ALERT: Medical Exploitation Bitcoin Scam

April 19, 2023, 01:17:17 PM by kat
Capitalising on people's sense of charity and generosity, especially when it involves matters of health, is another avenue for scammers to bait their targets into handing over cash in the form of bitcoins. No details, other than the use of a throw-away email address, so there's absolutely no way to verify the claims made.

Given that there are a number of services available for eBegging, it goes without saying that receiving an email requesting financial aid to cover medical or surgery costs, should be deleted without response as a scam (notwithstanding the same email will be received from multiple email addresses being an obvious clue as to the nature of any messages).

Hello, I apologize for bothering you,
but I'm not sure how to get out of the difficult situation I'm in.

Maybe you could help me. I need an urgent liver transplantation,
and the surgery costs a lot of money for me.
To be precise, I need [amount needed].

I would greatly appreciate any amount you can contribute.
If you're unable to help, I apologize once again.

My bitcoin wallet: [bitcoin address]

You can buy bitcoin here [bitcoin vendor]
or choose another payment service (google search phrase "buy bitcoin")

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this,
and please take care of yourself and your loved ones, especially your family...

Scam Bitcoin Addresses
  • bc1qdnjffh9tpmphuex2pknqg3yeq4g0xvfm2ag53w

SCAM ALERT: Nike YouTube Creator Sponsorship

April 15, 2023, 10:04:49 AM by kat
Not quite sure what a Nike sponsorship of a Blender 3D content creator channel is all about except perhaps Nike taking the creators word for it they're wearing their branded clothing and footwear, even though it's never shown on-screen; "yes Nike, totes wearing the clothing and footwear rite niow!".

Were this a legitimate request, the Creator would be mentioned by name (if publicly available) or at the very least, referred to by their YouTube Channel name and come from an email that doesn't terminate in a domain name that cannot be found.

Sender: *@nikepr.store (dead).

Dear YouTube creator,

We hope this message has caught you in good health. We are writing to you on behalf of Nike, one of the world's leading clothing and footwear companies. Our team has been impressed with the excellence and engagement of your YouTube channel, and we would like to offer you an advertising partnership with us.

We believe that your channel fits our guidelines and desired audience, and we are interested in presenting our products and services to your subscribers.

We have prepared a sample ad to show what kind of content we want to present to your audience.
The ad talks about some of the features of our latest clothing and footwear collections and how they might appeal to almost everyone on the globe. We believe that our partnership will be mutually beneficial, as we can benefit your viewers and draw attention to our brand at the same time.

We are willing to discuss advertising compensation because we understand the importance of fair compensation for content creators. Our team is available to answer any questions you may have about the proposal, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your time and attention. We appreciate your work and look forward to working with you in the future.

Our best wishes to you,

On behalf of Nike

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SCAM ALERT: Bug/Vulnerability Bounty Blackmail (Beg Bounty)

April 05, 2023, 03:46:28 PM by kat
Unsolicited Bug Bounty Blackmail

There's another relatively new fear marketing [1]/blackmail email scam doing that rounds in which someone claiming to be an *cough*ethical white-hat hacker*cough* sends an unsolicited report, from an anonymous email account, stating they've found "critical" website or email service bug(s) or vulnerability(ies) and wants a reward for bringing them to the victim's attention (essentially exploiting legitimate 'bug bounty' schemes with what is euphemistically referred to as a 'beg bounty').

Initially reports tend to relate to common website iframe (x-frame bypass), or email (DNS service, DMARC, SPF or DKIM) issues that can be discovered using tools freely available online [2], potential misconfigurations that might make it easier to spoof an email or gain unauthorised third-party [3] use of, or access to, services or content they wouldn't ordinarily be able to; malicious users (re)hosting webpage content within an iframe plastered with adverts from which they earn click-revenue (click-jacking) for example, or email spammers able to access mail servers to send unsolicited junk or mass-mailings from an address they don't actually control, often without the service owner's knowledge.

While these can be legitimate concerns they can thankfully be dealt with in any number of more fruitful ways than the type of unsolicited Bug Bounty Blackmail (beg bounty) that typically escalates in severity once the scammer knows they have a responsive target or victim; over time the scammer reports more bugs alleged to be increasingly severe, that only they can fix or provide information for, while demanding greater and larger rewards, or else [4].

Messages like this are a 'crap-shoot' for their authors however, as they are often little more than edited copy/paste boiler-plate texts or templates downloaded from internet, modified with the victim's details swapped in using a script that pulls the information from a scraped of harvested mailing list.

Needless to say, if there are concerns about the veracity of the bug or vulnerability disclosed, the best course of action is to get in touch with a business or professional that can check what's reported, and advise or action it appropriately.

In other words, a genuine, professional, security consultant wouldn't send a poorly written email, from an anonymous Gmail, Hotmail or other throwaway account, absent contact and/or business information, demanding payment for something, never mind a response.


1: Fear marketing or fear appeal is a form of manipulative marketing that uses fear as a means of persuading the target into taking action they might not otherwise engage in, the blackmail then being the threat of consequence if a 'reward' or payment for action/disclosure is not paid.

2: For more on x-frame bypass see here https://www.google.com/search?q=X-Frame-Bypass+check, for more on SPF, DKIM, DMARC configurations check here https://www.google.com/search?q=spf+dkim+dmarc+check

3: Spoofing email addresses does not require unauthorised service access; the address emails appear to be from, the 'From' address or identifier displayed in an email's header, is just a text string that can be an email address, a person's name or other label, and can be altered in Outlook or other email client.

4: Unless a server or service is significantly compromised scammers are not 'hacking' services but instead taking advantage of knowledge deficits and 'social engineering' techniques to coerce compliance from the victim.