The Curious Case of Automated Instagram Influencer Sponsorship Emails

The Curious Case of Automated Instagram Influencer Sponsorship Emails

If an email sounds too good to be true, we’ve learned to dismiss it as phishing or otherwise fraudulent, even if it managed to evade the email client’s junk filters. However, I’ve seen a rise of new type of automated emails that deserve a closer look, as they behave quite differently from your average spam. These emails are from seemingly legitimate businesses, targeting specific email addresses associated with Instagram Creator accounts, and offering some type of an influencer marketing deal.

Global influencer marketing spend is growing rapidly, and Instagram grabbed a lion share – 8 billion dollars – of it during 2020. So, it’s not out of the question for even smaller Creator accounts to get approached by (smaller) brands, but there’s definitely something fishy about the following emails. Let’s look at some examples.

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Cyber Security in Gaming – Extensive Show Notes for KOVA Podcast X F-Secure

Cyber Security in Gaming – Extensive Show Notes for KOVA Podcast X F-Secure

Recently I was invited to KOVA Esports podcast to talk about cyber security, online privacy and identity management from the perspective of gamers and gaming industry in general. Hosted by KOVA’s General Manager Timo Tarvainen and joined by their streamer Teemu “Spamned” Rissanen, we had a great one-hour long discussion. This post covers my own notes about the things we mentioned, source links included, and further expands on some of the topics. Links to the podcast episode can be found on the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

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YouTube Channel Phishing, Part 2: The Enemy Evolves

YouTube Channel Phishing, Part 2: The Enemy Evolves

Last year I took a first look at a phishing campaign that was interestingly targeting YouTube channel owners’ email addresses. The aim of the campaign was to guide people to fake YouTube sign in page and phish their login credentials. Note, this did not target YouTube accounts in general, but actual channels. These were my main findings:

  • Despite being hilariously obvious, first four of these were not caught by ProtonMail’s spam filter
  • Out of several YouTube channels I manage, only one has been targeted
  • Same email was CC’d to others
  • Unclear where they have found my email address
  • Senders’ email service providers started as Russian. Little to no typosquatting involved.
  • After few iterations, phishing content seems to have reached its final form (for now)

The campaign came in a burst, stopping as suddenly as it had started. Now after a couple of months it has started again, and it’s time to re-examine what has changed.

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Wearables & Privacy – What You Need To Know

Wearables & Privacy – What You Need To Know

Continuing my seemingly never-ending quest of digging through privacy policies, this time I analyzed how the most popular wearables companies handle their customers’ data. Fitbit, Biostrap, Motiv, Oura and Whoop all are on the cutting edge of health technology, but are their privacy practices on par with that or not?

A fellow biohacker Alex Fergus provided me with the opportunity to publish my little research article on his website. Over the years he has published tons of information on fitness, sleep and – of course – health gadgets. Few days ago he published the most comprehensive red light panel comparison I’ve ever seen, analyzing everything from EMF levels to irradiance and LED flicker. Let’s just say he knows his stuff, so I’m excited to try to match his professionalism on that space with mine about privacy.

I believe it’s time for the biohacker community to start valuing their data more. In my guest blog post you’ll learn:

  • What data do these wearables collect?
  • Are they selling or exchanging data with third parties?
  • Data retention – how long are they storing your data?
  • What can you do?
  • And more…

So head over to alexfergus.com and learn everything you need to know about wearables and privacy!

“YouTube channel will be disabled within 24 hours!” Phishing Campaign First Look

“YouTube channel will be disabled within 24 hours!” Phishing Campaign First Look

During past few months I’ve witnessed and been targeted by rather simple, but still interesting phishing campaign. Well, not me personally, but instead a YouTube channel that I run. This campaign has noticeably sped up in November, so I decided to take a closer look at these phishing emails and share with you my findings.

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Freedom of Speech in the Age of Privacy Policies

Freedom of Speech in the Age of Privacy Policies

(I got access to thinkspot beta and this was my first post on that platform. I decided to crosspost it here to increase awareness of thinkspot, and also because the issues I raise here are relevant on other social media platforms as well.)

 

Hi, I’m Joel, and I eat Privacy Policies for breakfast.

I’m thrilled to be among the first users a social platform that encourages free speech and exchange of ideas, driven by the idea of diversity of minds – the true diversity – not the superficial diversity of how we look or where we come from. However, there can be no free speech without privacy. In a similar vein, Snowden famously wrote few years ago that “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” Well I care about both. It makes a lot of sense then for my first contribution on this platform to be an analysis of thinkspot’s Privacy Policy.

All comments are made about Privacy Policy that’s dated to be effective starting August 8, 2019. It seems that they don’t keep an archive of old policies, so I took the liberty to archive this one myself. They do however notify users “in advance of any material updates to this Privacy Policy by providing a notice on the Website or via email”, so that’s a good thing. Here’s some of the most notable parts of the policy.

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