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   ISSUE 17

18 December 2012

Article of the Month   Around the World

Chain Mail: To Forward or Not To?


Today 625 million people in the world are using internet and one user will have at least one email address. 417million users have joined at least one social networking website and in order to register with a social networking website, a valid email address is a pre-requisite.

Thus if someone can create a mechanism to send an email to everyone who is in cyberspace that person will be able to communicate with 417million to 625million (500million approx) individuals! Getting access to around 500million people can be very important to many such as governments, politicians, social workers, business entities, NGOs, criminals, plotters� etc.

Have you ever received an email with a message which requests you to forward this particular email to your friends after reading it? Some emails might just be simply requesting you to forward the email to your friends while another email might threaten you to forward it reminding you of consequences if you do not forward it. This is called a chain email. This is a mechanism which can communicate with around 500million users in cyberspace.

A typical chain mail consists of a message that attempts to induce the recipient to make a number of copies of the letter and then forward them on to as many recipients as possible. Common methods used in chain mails include emotionally manipulative stories, get-rich-quick pyramid schemes, and the exploitation of superstition to threaten the recipient with bad luck or even physical violence or death if he or she "breaks the chain" and refuses to adhere to the conditions set out in the mail.

Even though we receive electronic emails such as this, the origin of chain mails goes back to early 1900. One good example is the chain letter started in 1935 from Denver, Colorado, USA called "Send-a-Dime letter". Chain letters and chain mails are illegal in some instances but is a nuisance in many instances. Many schools and military bases screen out chain mail or chain letters as there are regulations passed to authorize the screening of chain mail.

Few famous and commonly seen chain mails (emails) in Sri Lanka are "Bill Gates email"; which states that by forwarding the mail the user will be rewarded by Bill Gates or the Microsoft Corporation, "Katu Lata Kulu email"; which states that the user who breaks the chain will be killed by the spirit, "Hotmail email"; which states that if the mail not forwarded by the hotmail user to other hotmail users the users email account will be disabled. One famous instance of chain mail effecting cyberspace is the Mickey Mouse email which says that if not forwarded to 25 users, the homicidal Mickey Mouse will intrude the domain and kill the user. One user believed this email and took it seriously and ended up taking counseling.

Chain mails have invaded the social networking sites as well. MySpace, Facebook users receive many messages requesting them to forward it to their friends. Even marketing companies carry out their campaigns in such manner especially in social networking sites. Some people even request users to set their FaceBook status to a particular message requesting their friends also to do so. YouTube also has a lot of chain mails in video format.

So now chain mails have become a public nuisance and many people consider this as harassment. Some people consider people who forward emails in such manner to be jobless no matter how close that friend is to us. In many forms chain letters can be illegal. Especially when it comes to chain mails which involve financial aspect, it is considered illegal. For an example in United States it is illegal to send chain mail that involves Pyramid Schemes or other such financial inducements under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.

So next time when you forward a chain mail, just think twice why you are doing it. You may be a victim of a financial fraud or can be a victim who is manipulated emotionally or people might consider you to be jobless!

Rangamini Werawatta

Rangamini employed at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS). He holds a Bachelor Science degree in Information Technology (BSc-IT) from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) and he is a Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS), the Chartered Institute of IT.
He is a columnist and a freelance journalist who contributes to national newspapers and he is the author of the book �Cyber Security: 01 Byte from the Cyberspace�; ISBN: 978-955-658-253-6.








'It is no longer sufficient to react to attacks as they occur. What is important is to be proactive and guard against all likely threats'- Secretary Defence

  Published: 12/6/2012 8:37:44 PM   

'.... 'It is no longer sufficient to react to attacks as they occur. What is important is to be proactive and guard against all likely threats. ICT is a field that is changing very fast, therefore it is very important to remain focused on continuing education about cyber security, and to implement proper safeguards against all significant risks' so said Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa making the keynote address at the 5th Annual National Conference on Cyber Security held this morning (05th December 2012) at Hotel Taj Samudra in Colombo.......'


2013 Mobile Threat Predictions

  By Derek Halliday | December 13, 2012  

' The mobile era is underway, and 2013 will find people more dependent than ever on their mobile devices to control countless aspects of their personal, public and business lives. The possibilities of this trend are exciting, but heavy reliance and a trove of information on devices are enticing to attackers, putting people, businesses and their most sensitive data at risk.......'


Facebook Security, FBI Take Down Butterfly Botnet, Arrest 10

  by Michael Mimoso | December 12, 2012, 12:07PM  

Facebook�s security team is being lauded by the FBI for its role the arrest of 10 individuals accused of spreading banking malware on the social networking site and collecting more than $850 million from fraudulent transactions�..


Month in Brief

Facebook Incidents Reported to Sri Lanka CERT|CC in November 2012


  Fake + Harassment



Statistics - Sri Lanka CERT|CC



Joomla, WordPress Sites Hit by IFrame Injection Attacks
by Michael Mimoso | December 12, 2012, 4:31PM

'....Users of the popular Joomla content management system are being urged by security experts to upgrade to the latest version after reports of exploits being used to compromise websites built on the platform......'

Security Researcher Compromises Cisco VoIP Phones With Vulnerability
  By Brian Prince, Contributing Writer
Dark Reading |
Dec 13, 2012 | 12:39 PM

'....A researcher has demonstrated how Cisco Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones can be hijacked and turned into listening devices......'

  Notice Board
  Training and Awareness Programmes - December 2012  
Date Event Venue
- 10-18 Content Development for Learning Management System Education Leadership Development Center, Meepe  
- 10-12 Refreshment Programme for hardware and network solution team Sreepada National College of Education, Kotagala, Pathana
- 12-14 Refreshment Programme for hardware and network solution team Sreepada National College of Education, Kotagala, Pathana
  20-24 Orientation Programme for newly recruited ICT Graduate Teachers   Ruwanpura National College of Education

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